Il Fatto Quotidiano, Italy’s seventh largest daily, ran a prominent article Nov. 19 on the Nov. 6-8 Ibn-Sina Center conference on “Creating the Afghan Economic Miracle,” in Kabul, crediting the Schiller Institute as the co-organizer of the event.
The article covers two full pages and is promoted on the front page, with a pun on the word “Taliban,” turned into “Tali-buoni” to indicate a positive evolution of the new generations of Afghani leadership. Author Stefano Citati describes the atmosphere in Kabul outside and inside the conference, writing that there were “few burkas” and many cellphones around. Furthermore, there were many women at the conference, which is a “promise” of women’s emancipation.
“A few days ago, a conference was held in Kabul organized by the Schiller Institute and representatives of the large Afghan community in Germany, which sought to inspire the regime on the priorities, especially economic ones, that can bring the country out of isolation and enable it to lift itself out of endemic poverty. Numerous members of the government showed up with a large female following that crowded the conference hall, taking vexatious selfies with smartphones that no one is deprived of anymore (except retiring at lunchtime to separate rooms).
“English and cell phones: The Taliban 2.0 have realized that it cannot be done without them; therefore, they have retained most of the officials of the previous ‘administration,’ those pulled up in schools where English is learned from the age of 11 and which are currently back to being male-only.”
“But several members of the government are talking openly, though not yet officially, about lifting the ban on female teaching: ‘There would be only four influential religious leaders who would oppose it,’ they say from the government; no one names them, but there is clearly a willingness to show good will to remove the major obstacle preventing relaxed and beneficial relations with the international community.”
After a long introduction on the last 50 years of Afghanistan history, followed by the above remarks, Citati, who accompanied former UN Office of Drugs and Crime director Pino Arlacchi at the event, including Arlacchi’s meetings with government officials, reports about his proposal for a donors’ conference to raise $100 million over five years to ensure that the 500,000 or so farmers could replace growing the profitable opium poppy with other agricultural products met with immediate success. Another issue prominently discussed was the Qosh Tepa canal and participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Finally, Citati concludes with a report on the historic hospital of Alberto Cairo, the Italian physiotherapist who for 30 years had been providing prosthetics and orthotics that enable hundreds of thousands of Afghans to walk and work.