The Diplomatic Society

 
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Stabilising Afghanistan - Deputy Minister Zardasht Shams

Interview with Deputy Minister Tourism, Administration & Finance of the Ministry of Information & Culture, Mr. Zardasht Shams  
 

21 August 2015

On Wednesday 19th August, 2015 Afghanistan celebrated 96th years of Independence. Every year since 1919, the national pride of this great nation swells in a patriotic spirit when Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day.  Today Afghanistan is experiencing a new era of political, socio and economic landscape under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and the country, situated on the crossroads of South and Central Asia, looks towards a wealthy future in which a new era of development will play a key role.

Global Editor for Foreign Exchange - The Diplomatic Society (FETDS), Srimal Fernando was pleased to interview Hon. Zardasht Shams, Deputy Minister Tourism, Administration & Finance of the Ministry of Information & Culture Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Srimal Fernando (SF):  Deputy Minister Mr. Zardasht Shams, please  give us a  brief background about yourself and what your role as a Deputy Minister Tourism, Administration & Finance Ministry of Information & Culture Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will be?

Deputy Minister Shams  (DM): Let me extend my sincere gratitude to Foreign Exchange - The Diplomatic Society, particularly Mr. Srimal Fernando for his personal interest in Afghanistan and our ministry.
I was recently appointed as Deputy Minister Tourism, Administration & Finance of the Ministry of Information & Culture Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Prior to this I served the public and international organisations in various capacities such as the United Nations, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), NHK (Japan Broadcasting Organisation) and Afghanistan Embassy in Islamabad.
My responsibility at the Ministry of Information & Culture is to revive and develop our tourism industry and provide support to our other key areas such as pluralistic and free media, preservation of ancient monuments and heritage sites and support our youth to play a productive role in the development of our country.
 
SF :  Can you explain briefly what steps the new Government of Afghanistan undertook to stabilize the socio, economic and political aspects of the civilians living in Afghanistan in the recent years?

DM :  After the withdrawal of most of the international troops last year our national security forces took the responsibility of the security and the fight against terrorism. The new government faced challenges on both the security as well as economic front. Since with the withdrawal of US and other forces the foreign assistance also diminished. Unfortunately, the bulk of our economy was dependent on foreign assistance and the transition was not only in the area of security but the significant transition was the economic one. The government thus focused to enhance trade with neighbours including India, Pakistan, Iran and China. Several rural development projects were launched to improve the livelihoods of the rural population. The leading project in this sector is the National Solidarity Program (NSP) funded by the World Bank. Agriculture, being the backbone of our economy, is a key focus area for our government and the modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture is on the agenda of the current leadership. Afghanistan is a leading producer of fresh and dry fruits in the region. The government is committed to enhance the agricultural production and maximise its export. We have problems in our trade agreements with Pakistan and the government is working to resolve these and to have easy and timely access to other south-Asian states.

SF : From the point of view as the Deputy Minister for Tourism, Administration & Finance, what is your opinion about your Ministry?

DM :   Afghanistan is a country famous for its ancient monuments as well as natural beauties. Situated along the ancient Silk Road, Afghanistan remained a crossroad of civilisations. It was a passage not only for trade, but cultures, ideas and values. Preservation of Afghan culture and restoration of that historical seat is our foremost duty. In addition, free and pluralistic media is the foundation of a democratic society and the ministry is committed to preserve and protect this basic right of our people. The media freedom and development is unprecedented in our country. During Taliban till 2001, only Radio Kabul was functioning and the State TV was banned due to their extreme and false interpretation of religion. Now we have over 50 TV channels, over 100 radio stations and thousands of publications. People are enjoying full freedom of speech and in some cases we are far ahead compared to our neighbours.
 
SF :  What role does your ministry play in the safeguarding of information rights of the  public,  local and foreign journalist  working in Afghanistan ?
 
DM :  Our ministry is fully committed to the rights of people to information. Recently the access to information law was passed by parliament. A Commission was formed to oversee its implementation in the country. Representatives from civil society, media organs and public institutions are members of that Commission.
The ministry also facilitates foreign journalists who want to visit Afghanistan for reporting purposes. Journalist visas are issued in our foreign missions and upon arrival the Ministry of Information facilitates their activities if they need assistance. There are many bureaus of international media outlets such a BBC, Reuters, AP and others in Kabul.

SF: What are the challenges that  the Ministry  is facing at the moment and what steps has the  Ministry taken to improve the facilities, performance and the image of your Ministry?

DM:  Afghanistan is a country with a rich history and each and every part of our country is full of ancient sites and historical monuments. Due to security reasons we are not able to preserve our historical sites which are in danger and might be damaged. Further, our funds to restore and protect these sites are limited. In addition, the skills and capacity is also limited and we are currently working to train experts in the restoration fields.
In the media sector, the unprecedented development has brought some problems too. Although we have many highly capable journalists, many of our journalists and media organisations lack professionalism. They don't follow the code of ethics of journalism and sometimes create problems. Dealing with the private media sector is also challenging as they are antagonistic to the implementation of laws. However, the ministry is working to enhance professionalism in the media sector.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
_________________________________________________

October 2017 Edition

 
 
_________________________________________________

Translater


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Baz-Art graffiti exhibition at the French Residence in Pretoria On Wednesday 4 October 2017, Ambassador of France to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Christophe Farnaud, and NGO BAZ-ART hosted an exhibition... <|> African Union and Germany agree on further cooperation Addis Ababa, 5 October 2017 The annual bilateral consultations on the development Cooperation between the African Union (AU) and Government of... <|> South Africa and Turkey commit to grow trade and investment 6 October 2017 South Africa and Turkey have committed to strengthening trade and economic relations to increase two-way bilateral trade... <|> Tango Spectacular Rodolfo Mederos Trio in South Africa 10 October 2017 Tango legend Rodolfo Mederos from Argentina will be delighting South African music lovers with his trio this month. Mederos... <|> Easing travel regulations between South Africa and Kenya 3 May 2016 South Africa and Kenya have announced measures that will make travelling between the two countries easier. South African Home... <|> AU needs active participation to advance Africa 10 October 2017 The African Union (AU) needs solid support from its member states and organs to help the continent achieve political and economic... <|> Building Bridges between Europe and Asia: Dr Kiril Avramov   2017-10-12 The New Bulgarian University (NBU) is one of Bulgaria’s top-ranked universities at the heart of Bulgaria’s capital,... <|> Russian heroes honoured 12 October 2017 At a ceremony to hand over names of Russians who lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom for South Africa, Ambassador of Russia, HE Mikhael Ivanovich... <|> GHANAFEST SA 2017 - A resounding success 20 October 2017 A bird's eye view of the Magnolia Dell Park in Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday, 7th October 2017, was characterized by the colorful... <|>   Diversity – what? 17 November 2017 I bump into a lot of industry initiatives. Not many of them are noteworthy. This one is! Two years ago, I was invited by a friend to a small... <|>
© copyright 2011-2017| The Diplomatic Society| All Rights Reserved.