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Interview: Rejected Afghan Culture Minister Tells What's Next

The Afghan parliament in session in March (epa) Afghan lawmakers have refused to let two sitting cabinet ministers return to their posts. Parliamentarians voted to reject President Hamid Karzai's nomination of Economy Minister Amin Farhang and Information and Culture Minister Sayyed Makhdum Rahin to hold the same posts in the country's new cabinet. Both men have served in Karzai's cabinet for about three years. Earlier, proposed Foreign Minister Dadfar Rangin Espanta and Defense Minister Abdulrahim Vardak were approved. However many other proposed ministers, such as the women's affairs, transport, and commerce ministers, were also rejected. RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent Darius Rajabian today asked Makhdum Rahin how he felt after his candidacy was rejected by parliamentarians.

Makhdum Rahin: I have to tell you that regardless of the vote of the friends [members of parliament], I feel proud of my very valuable service to Afghanistan's mass media, culture, and art.

RFE/RL: So, why did the lawmakers refuse to allow you back to your office? Do you have some shortcoming?

Rahin: I think all tribal and nontribal extremists from different ethnic groups probably do not agree with me because I took a very sober yet strict path regarding all ethnic and religious issues.

RFE/RL: Could you recall the successful things you accomplished during your ministerial term?

Rahin: I will summarize my activities in one sentence: the things that occurred during the last four and a half years in the Afghan Information and Culture Ministry are unprecedented in the last half a century.

RFE/RL: What exactly have you done?

Rahin: To be precise, I have to tell you that the steps taken by the ministry towards the freedom of expression and its institutionalization -- even if we had to take some risky moves -- are unprecedented for this country.

RFE/RL: What are your plans for the future now that you are no longer a minister?

Rahin: I teach at Kabul University and will keep working there. And my cultural and media activities will not be interrupted as they have been ongoing for the last 20 years.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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