Outgoing Afghan ambassador lauds UAE efforts in fight against terrorism.

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Abdul Farid Zikria says he has been able to execute his diplomatic duties well.

Representing a nation that has been at the forefront of the war against terrorism – with men, women and children being killed daily in terror attacks – was among the biggest challenges in the nine-year tenure of the outgoing ambassador of Afghanistan to the UAE.

But with the great support from the UAE government towards Afghanistan in the fight against all forms of terrorism, Abdul Farid Zikria says he has been able to execute his diplomatic duties well. “Today, the good relationship enjoyed by the two nations is at its highest mark ever,” he said. And this is part of his many achievements.

Ambassador Zikria, whose services at the diplomatic mission ends this week, said he’s been honoured to have represented Afghanistan in the UAE during the most important period. “Afghanistan has been facing terrorism over the years and it required joint efforts from across the world to fight these challenges,” said Zikria, who has been Afghanistan ambassador to the UAE for two tenures – from October 2004 to June 2009 and from January 2016 to February 2020.

“I am delighted that during my tenure as head of the mission, there has been great bond and social, political and economic cooperation between the UAE and Afghanistan. The UAE has greatly supported Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism and rebuilding the nation that has been badly destroyed by war and terror activities.”

According to the ambassador, the UAE is among the top 10 donor countries to Afghanistan. “We are so grateful to the UAE and its great leaders for the brotherly relationship and the support extended to the people of Afghanistan over the years,” said Zikria, adding that the UAE recently financed a multi-storey housing project comprising of 3,300 apartments for low-income families in Afghanistan. Construction of the project was completed in 2019. The ambassador said his stay in the UAE, which is home to about 130,000 Afghan expats, has been such a great learning experience and that the UAE can be a model for many nations.

As a diplomat who has been executing his duties in a peaceful nation like the UAE, Zikria said he is bothered whenever he remembers the UAE diplomats killed by terrorists in Kandahar a few years ago. Five Emirati diplomats were killed in a bomb attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in January 2017. Six other people were killed and 18 wounded in the evening attack. The UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan was among the injured. The attack targeted a guesthouse of provincial governor Homayun Azizi, who was also wounded in the incident.

“I was irritated and devastated by that incident. This was the worst moment in my career. It’s something I will never forget,” said 60-year-old Zikria, a nuclear engineer by profession and father of two boys and two girls.

“Not only did the UAE lose some of its best sons, but we lost our best friends. We were equally affected. These diplomats were so close to us as Afghans.”

On the peace settlement between Americans and the Taleban, the ambassador said there have been negotiations between the two sides over the past year and significant progress in the recent days. “We are expecting a peace deal between the Americans and the Taleban in the near future. Probably before end of this month,” said Zikria, adding that though there are still many challenges, he’s hopeful there will be an end to the spate of violence in Afghanistan.