Bashardost saving money for his wedding
KABUL (PAN): Dr. Ramazan Bashardost, the French-educated Afghan parliamentarian who once lived in a tent and now has a well-equipped office, says he is saving his salary for his wedding and his children’s future.
An MP from Kabul who calls himself the Afghan Gandhi, Bashardost recently turned 50 and got engaged. He says he is arranging a simple wedding ceremony with his in-laws.
"I once thought that someone waging a political struggle could hardly think of having a wife and children. But I have changed my mind," he says.
Currently he lives with his father in a mud house in the Dashte Barchi area of Kabul, and prepares his own food and does his own laundry. He hopes his wife will do these and other chores for him once he gets married.
He said that until recently, he would give 80 percent of his 131,000 afghani (about $2,800) monthly salary to the poor. But the lawmaker is now saving his pay for his family.
He used to work from a tent in Shahr-i-Naw park and then in front of Parliament. Now he has an office within the Parliament complex, decorated with portraits of renowned Afghans, including Ahmad Shah Baba, Amanullah Khan, Mirwais Khan Hotak, Syed Jamaluddin Afghan and Malalai.
He owns a Suzuki car decorated with the flag of Afghanistan, but mostly commutes to Parliament on foot. He eats lunch in his office with his staff.
Constituents visit him every day – several, including women, were waiting for him when a Pajhwok reporter left his office after an interview. He writes down their problems in a notebook so that he can take them to the relevant authorities. But he maintains he has never used his influence to get a constituent hired for a government job.
He claims that he is the only MP who was elected to the Wolesi Jirga twice with no outside support. He funded the 50,000 afghani (about $1,000) expense of both campaigns by selling posters and CDs.
Ramazan Bashardost was born in the solar year 1340 (1961) in the Qara Bagh district of southern Ghazni province. He was educated in the Maqur and Qara Bagh districts of Ghazni and Faryab province.
Months after the 1978 communist coup, Bashardost left Afghanistan for Iran, where he finished high school before emigrating to Pakistan. In 1983, he left Pakistan for France, where he spent 22 years, completing a master’s degree in diplomacy and a PhD in law, then working for the Afghan Embassy in France. He never received French citizenship.
Upon his return to Afghanistan, he held several posts in Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry and published a book before moving to the Planning Ministry, which he ran briefly between 2004 and 2005.
He said the president had supported him until he dissolved nearly 2,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), a move which the president strongly opposed and in the wake of which Bashardost resigned. He said that all the NGOs the ministry dissolved had come to Afghanistan to steal.
Following his resignation he taught international law at the University of Albironi.
During the first Parliamentary election, he was asked to run from his home district in Ghazni province. He said chose to run in Kabul province because a number of different tribes live there and he wanted to represent all tribes. His candidacy was not affiliated with any political party, he said.
He believes that since the Taliban had been involved in the country’s internal wars, they should have no place in Afghanistan’s political process. He also claims most of the MPs have forgotten their responsibilities and only discuss their personal and party goals during meetings. He said Parliament had not done any work for the people during the past two terms.
He believes that whether the situation in Afghanistan gets better or worse after foreign troops leave is up to the United States. He said the United States did not come to Afghanistan for counterinsurgency but for its own interests in the region.
The MP listens to music, watches movies, and used to play football with his classmates in his youth but no longer plays sports. He likes Indian actors such as Amitabh Bachan, Shahrukh Khan, and Hema Malini, as well as Afghan artists, especially Ahmad Zahir, Naghma, and Nashenas.
During the interview he sang Naghma’s song "Mena Da Khulo Singa Kegi Malah Chal Narazi,” saying it was very meaningful.
He ran for the presidency in 2009. He said that he will soon publish a book about the campaign.
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