Afghans pay tributes to UAE on their Independence Day

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Afghans pay tributes to UAE on their Independence Day
An Afghan expat celebrates the Afghanistan Independence Day celebration held at the embassy in Abu Dhabi. - Photo By Ryan Lim

Abu Dhabi - The 120,000-strong Afghan community in the UAE have been key in rebuilding a nation that was ravaged by war for the last 35 years


Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sat 19 Aug 2017, 10:08 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Aug 2017, 11:54 AM

The UAE's humanitarian aid and Afgani expats' foreign remittances have boosted Afghanistan's efforts in rebuilding the war-ravaged country, the Afghan envoy has said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the occasion of the 98th Independence Day celebrations of Afghanistan, ambassador Abdul Farid Zikria said the UAE's contribution to the major development projects in Afghanistan has crossed $700 million since 2002.
"We owe a lot to the UAE leadership and its people. The humanitarian aid we have received over the years from the UAE is immense. The emirate has built schools, clinics, hospitals, universities as well as mosques in Afghanistan. Recently, the UAE has also completed a project of building 3,300 apartments in the city of Kabul with a budget of $200 million," said Zikria.
Members of the Afghan community thronged the embassy premises on Saturday morning to celebrate their nation's Independence Day. Ambassador Zikria hoisted the national flag as the community members sang the national anthem.
"The 120,000-strong Afghan community in the UAE, and their contributions in terms of foreign exchange have been key in rebuilding a nation that was ravaged by war for the last 35 years.
Zikria said the foreign remittances by the Afghan community, including its business community of 1,500 people, touches anything between $150,000 to $200,000 every year.
"Some cities of Afghanistan like Khost has been transformed from one of the poorest to the most progressive, thanks to the foreign remittances wired by Afghani expats in the UAE."
Paying tribute to the UAE's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Zikria said his people are ever so grateful to the UAE leadership for supporting Afghan people throughout their crisis and allowing Afghans to take refuge in the emirate during the war against the Soviet Union," said the ambassador.
Though diplomatic relations between the UAE and Afghanistan was established in 1993, he said relations between the people existed well before that. Zikria was sent as the first Afghanistan ambassador to the UAE in 2004, and this is his second tenure. "Our brotherly relations got better with the appointment of a full-fledged ambassador. The UAE has always played a crucial role in supporting Afghanistan since the time of the Soviet invasion in the 80s, till today.
"Currently, we are discussing investment opportunities from private and public entities in the UAE, to support Afghanistan's energy and agricultural sector, and bolster food security and water resources."
Life under Taliban
Speaking about Afghanistan's current state of affairs, the envoy said the world owes it to Afghanistan for stopping the menace of the Red army, and hence the international community should support the country's fight against terrorism.
"We have sacrificed a lot. As part of our struggle against the Soviet Union, we lost 1.5 million people. My own father was killed by the Soviets. We not only managed to free ourselves from the menace of communism, we also helped other nations from the onslaught of the Red army. Now, when we are fighting another crucial war against terrorism, the international community has to stand with us and support us," said Zikria.
On fears of a Taliban resurgence in the country, Zikria said the people of Afghanistan have endured life under Taliban, and do not want to go back to that. "The problem does not lie on our soil. Taliban has sanctuaries outside our country. They are being supported and funded by outside forces."
Zikria said Afghanistan is hopeful that the new US government under Donald Trump will prove beneficial to Afghanistan, and tighten the noose on countries that fund terrorists.

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