Shafiq-era water pact with Iran to be enforced: Ghani
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani has called the Helmand River agreement with Iran as one of the important achievements of former prime minister Musa Shafiq, saying it is the responsibility of the current government to implement it.
The president said that Shafiq had been under pressure from critics to cancel the agreement, but the former prime minister believed Afghanistan and its neighbours would understand their interests and treat each others as friends.
Speaking at a seminar on the 90th birth anniversary of Musa Shafiq, Ghani referred to the Helmand River agreement. “Article 5 says Iran has no claim to more water than what has been specified in the accord, even if there is a larger amount of water available in the river.”
Implementation of the agreement was interest of peace and stability in Afghanistan, he believed. “Our priority is implementation of this agreement which is in the interest of the Afghans and peace in their country.”
Shafiq and Iranian counterpart Amir Abbas Hoveyda signed the 12-article agreement and two protocols in Kabul on March 12, 1973. The agreement had specified the amount of water flowing from Helmand River to Iran.
The Iranian parliament approved the pact on September 1, 1973 and ordered the officials concerned to exchange documents, but the coup against Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, prevented review and approval of the deal.
The 1978 coup plunged the country into a civil war and the agreement was not even taken up by parliament during the leadership of former president Hamid Karzai.
About the achievement of Shafiq, Ghani said the former prime minister was a man of pen and action, as well as a great politician. “He was prime minister for a few months and had little time to realise his great dreams. Hut he he was still able to perform vital tasks under his leadership.”
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said the seminar had been arranged in recognition of Musa Shafiq’s services, because knowing him thoroughly could teach essential lessons and one could avail his experience in mapping out future plans.
According to him, this great personality, besides being a writer and poet, was also a committed jurist and intelligent politician. In terms of knowledge and bravery, he was exceptional among his political figures of that era.
He said Shafiq, after the shameful coup d'état by the communists, was martyred along with other academic, national and Muslim figures on April 27, 1978.
He continued Shafiq, in addition to being a political personality, also earned a great place in the history of Afghanistan’s literature by leaving behind fictional works in Dari and Pashto languages.
During his job at the foreign ministry and as prime minister, Shafiq built trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The current government had been trying to turn Afghanistan into a regional intersection, Rabbani added.
Nations who don’t read and criticizes their and others’ past history and don’t learn from previous experiences were always doomed to repeat the bitter historical experiences again and would never find their way to success, he believed.
The ceremony was also attended by high-ranking officials, National Assembly member, Kabul-based diplomats, Shafiq’s relatives and others. A postal stamp was also introduced in the name of Shafiq.
Babrak Daqiq Shafiq, elder grandson of Shafiq, said: “His (grandfather) attitude was neither western nor eastern, but Islamic and Afghani. I hope all Afghans will follow his path and bring stability and peace to their country.”
He also praised the holding of the ceremony, hoping for future programmes aimed at highlighting Shafiq’s services and achievements. Shafiq was King Zahir Shah’s foreign minister before he became prime minister in December 1972.
However, he lost both positions when Zahir Shah was overthrown on July 17, 1973 and was sent to jail. He spent two and a half years in prison. But in 1976, he was freed.
For a second time, he was arrested after the communist coup d'état on April 27, 1978 and executed along with many other anti-communist politicians a year later.
He did an additional master's in international law from Columbia University in New York. He also received a certificate from the Harvard University in international affairs.
As prime minister, Shafiq supported reforms of the largely conservative Afghan society. He also sought closer ties with the United States and promised a crack-down on opium growing and smuggling. He served prime minister for only seven months.
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