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Reform Association Works With Coalition to Promote Afghan Reconstruction

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2007 – Coalition representatives met Jan. 12 with members of the newly formed Khost Reform Association at a forward base in Khost province, Afghanistan, to discuss the group’s focus on national unity and reconstruction.

The association was formed in November 2006, founded by retired military commanders, university professors and former provincial governor. Its goal is to increase cooperation, education and reconstruction throughout Khost province.

Association officials said the organization will accept people from any religious or ethnic background, as long as they support democracy, desire to help reconstruct Afghanistan and do not participate in terrorist, antigovernment or anti-coalition activities.

“Scholars only join the academic groups. Only mullahs join the mullah groups. The former mujahideen have their groups, but only former mujahideen join,” said Fazil Jan, the association’s chief, former governor of Helmand province and now a university professor. “Anybody can join us; our organization does not have a flavor of politics.”

Coalition officials say they welcome the desire these Afghan citizens have taken to help secure their country’s future.

“The meeting was a productive discussion between a diverse group of people who want to help rebuild Afghanistan,” said Col. Tom Collins, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan spokesman. “These gentlemen offer a clear indication that the Afghan people are willing to put aside differences to work for the future of Afghanistan through education and reconstruction.”

Wazir Badshah, a university professor, noted that democracy in Afghanistan will take time until people are educated enough to defend themselves. He said the people of Khost “are very upset” about suicide bombers being trained to carry out attacks against their citizens. Only education, reconstruction and jobs can counter such extremism, he said.

Yusif Antazar, the group’s education representative, offered his perspective on peace and security for the future of Afghanistan. “Anybody can fight, but no man can bring peace and unity by himself,” Antazar said. “Anyone can work for his own profit; but, to bring unity is hard. We want, through our partnership, to bring great unity. Our wishes cannot succeed until we have unity.”

(Compiled from a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)

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