A Call for Help

Not for me, for Dr. Ramazan Bashardost.

As a former cabinet minister and presidential candidate and current MP from Kabul (elected with most votes), Dr. Bashardost is that rarity in Afghanistan: a career politician, and one with a conscience. He has clearly devoted his life to the public and is bent on raising important issues for national debate. This is reflected in his numerous tirades in the parliament against corrupt and incapable officials and the government. One could argue that he is playing the role of a legislator meant to balance the excesses of the executive most dutifully. While many people feel that he is too argumentative and tactless, I rarely see this as a shortcoming. Beyond the possibility that it may cost him dearly in terms of personal safety, what he is doing is a challenging the political culture in Afghanistan of appearances, falsities, and niceties, and debating important issues.

However, he has some real difficulty in raising his voice of dissent. He has been educated in France and his knowledge of English is wanting. Consider the following taken from a letter entitled “Letter of Dr. Bashardost to the Position of the Best Justice,” on his website:

It is a law full and nation that attribution job of home sick Afghan.

I proud that this formal document of ministry of ruler and rehabilitation development put authority as lawful position that follow the crime and violation.

Ministery ruler and rehabilitation development that in the end of year 1382their minister made a consensus financially to worth of more than 300 million USD they resaved from this money missionary 64 million in year 1382 spend to the project of development. In the report of Miss Noorzai consistory document number 227 Date 1383/10/17 question is this where is remind money? It means where is 236 million USD ministery ruler and rehabilitation development is count high than low they didn’t help whit control and chin of the Best Justice document (No27Date 83/5/11 No 28 Date of 83/7/10 No 32 Date of 84/10/12 No 46 Date of 83/12 and No 47 Date of 83/10/7).”

The letter concludes:

“I aspect from position of Best low should follow this document serums sin document (2272) date 84/10/7 Mrs. Noorza’s cohistang the chief of improve of capacity.”

It is clear beyond doubt that Dr. Bashardost has something important to say. It is far from clear, however, that anyone can understand the incoherent English that his views are conveyed in. I am not sure whether he is writing the statements on his website on himself or employing the assistance of an aide with little knowledge of English.

It is important that these views make their way into policy discussions and debates on Afghanistan. Dissent, debate, and argumentation is the essence of democracy, and “The Argumentative Mr. Bashardost” (borrowing a phrase from Amartya Sen) embodies that in Afghanistan. I hope he finds somebody to help get his voice of dissent out. Anyone interested can find Dr. Bashardost’s contact on his website.

(Note: It should be made clear that I am not writing this blog entry on behalf of Dr. Bashardost. I was reading his website and felt the English language deficient, hence this post.)


One Response to A Call for Help

  1. He must be using the online translation services that do a verbatim mapping of words rather than sentences. That’s why, I suspect, the description on the packet of Chinese spices reads remarkably like Mr. Bashardost’s proclamation: “The bag of content make food heavenly and add, whatever.”

    He has become one giant monkey wrench in the system. Though I suspect he has lost touch with the simple fact that whereas in France (and the West in general) the machinery of state is oiled by laws and obligations, in Afghanistan the lubricants are bribes, nepotism and graft. And more seriously, it is not a symptom of the long years of war, as some Afghans pretend, but rather the result of the slash and burn attitude of our ruling classes internalized by many. There were exceptions of course, but in general you always tried to get your brother-in-law hired.

    By protesting too much, he is likely to get himself appointed the marginalized loud mouth, much like Naipul’s “Mystic Maseus” in the book of the same name. One only wishes Afghans had the sense to waltz to technocratic tunes. By all evidence, the “atan” is the best we can do anyway.

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