Opening Remarks of Ambassador Waissi On the Reception for the New Generation of Afghan Scholars

Ambassador Wahidullah Waissi||

Opening Remarks of H. E. Wahidullah Waissi
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Canberra, Australia
On the Reception for the New Generation of Scholars
The Commonwealth Club
6 June 2024

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening and welcome.

I begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra area, and pay my respects to the elders past and present of all Australia's Indigenous peoples.
It is a privilege to stand before such a distinguished group of individuals.

Tonight, we gather not only to enjoy a meal together but also to celebrate and reflect on the significant achievements and ongoing endeavours in the field of international relations, with a particular focus on Afghanistan.
This dinner marks the successful commencement of an important event, the international workshop on "Afghanistan and International Relations," hosted by the Coral Bell School of the Australian National University.

It is a key part of a series of events throughout 2024, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of International Relations at our university.

Our gathering tonight brings together a diverse group of participants: esteemed academics, veterans, diplomats, practitioners, journalists, students, and media professionals.

I would like to acknowledge the presence of our good friend, Commissioner for International Engagement of the Government of the Australian Capital Territory, Mr. Brendan Smyth, and our colleagues from the South and Central Asia Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr. Steven Barraclough, and Ms. Joanne Frederiksen.

I also acknowledge the presence of Mr. Parwiz Kawa, Editor-in-Chief of Hasht e Subh Daily Newspaper (8 AM), Ms. Karen Middleton, Political Editor at Guardian Australia, Ms. Anna Henderson, Chief Political Correspondent and Bureau Chief at SBS, the ACT Branch President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Mr. Heath McMichael, Director at Griffith University’s Defence Network, Prof. Adam Findley AO, and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and scholar from Cornell University, Prof. Paul Lushenko.

I will continue introducing more individuals later, but I would like to acknowledge that among us tonight are 14 PhD scholars from Afghanistan, whose stories of perseverance and resilience inspire us all. Your presence here is a testament to your incredible journey.

I welcome:

  1. Dr Nematullah BIZHAN
  2. Dr Farkhondeh AKBARI
  3. Dr Abbas FARASOO
  4. Mr Ali ADILI
  5. Dr Timor SHARAN
  6. Ms Aryana MOHMOOD
  7. Mr Jawed NADER
  8. Dr Niamatullah IBRAHIMI
  9. Mr Wali YAWARI
  10. Dr Arif SABA
  11. Dr Faisal Ahmed HARIS

These scholars have managed to pursue their studies under extraordinarily challenging circumstances, often as refugees or while in exile.

Their presence here in Canberra underscores the critical role of education and scholarly exchange in fostering a more peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Australia's involvement in Afghanistan over the past two decades has been extensive, encompassing efforts from the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and numerous non-governmental organizations.

Australia's commitment to Afghanistan is also evident on humanitarian resettlement program, which has welcomed a growing number of Afghan nationals to its shores.

The Afghan community in Australia is vibrant and culturally rich, contributing significantly to society through art, music, and intellectual engagement. This relationship is further supported by the ongoing provision of essential consular services by the Embassy of Afghanistan.

Our shared objective and responsibility are clear: to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan, primarily for its people, but also for the preservation of international peace and security. Amid the turbulence that unfolded in Afghanistan, countless individuals watched with heavy hearts as the nation's brightest minds sought refuge in distant lands.

These individuals, embodying the essence of our national spirit and potential, departed our borders, yet within them resides a promise of a brighter future for Afghanistan. While the world may perceive their exodus as a 'brain-drain', I urge you to see it from another perspective: today's diaspora, this movement of our most educated and talented, isn't a loss but a preservation.

These individuals, armed with their knowledge, experiences, and resilience borne out of love for their homeland, are the very seeds that, when the time is right, can be replanted to rejuvenate Afghanistan.
We are fortunate to draw on the expertise of a new generation of Afghan scholars based in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and here in Australia.

These scholars are actively contributing to both Afghanistan and international cultural and academic life, and their insights will be invaluable as we seek to produce an academic study of distinction from this workshop.
This will allow us to celebrate our collective commitment to a free and pluralistic Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude, please allow me to acknowledge the presence of three extraordinary individuals who have had a deep impact on the lives, work, and thoughts of both Afghans and Australians through their contributions to Defence, Diplomacy, and Development.

Their presence tonight will make our gathering more meaningful and powerful.

First, I am honoured to introduce Australia's man of many talents—a former commando, veteran, inspirational speaker, advocate, acclaimed author, accomplished actor, and athlete, whose remarkable journey of resilience and achievement inspires us all. Please welcome Mr. Damien Thomlinson, who will reflect on his journey and engagement in Afghanistan later tonight.

Next, we have a celebrated musician, distinguished diplomat, and acclaimed author. His songs, ranging from witty and humorous to profoundly serious, capture the complexities of his experiences in Afghanistan and rest of the world. His deeply emotional and insightful music has earned him critical acclaim and a loyal following. We will also have the opportunity to hear about his experiences tonight. Please welcome Fred Smith.

Lastly, I come to an individual whose influence is so profound that words often fall short. He is one of Australia’s most acclaimed scholars, a successful author, a guiding thinker, and a mentor to many of us here as we discuss the future of Afghanistan. He is the very reason we are gathered tonight. It is my great honour to introduce Emeritus Professor William Maley, AM. While we will not disclose the specifics now, we will acknowledge his remarkable achievements throughout our event.

Thank you, and please enjoy the dinner.

Last modified on Friday, 14/06/2024

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