Kabul Hosts Fourth International Nowruz Festival

Nowruz, also the first day of the Persian New Year, was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010.


Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon, left, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speak during a press conference in Kabul. Credit: www.whdh.com

The fourth International Nowruz Festival was held Thursday in the Afghan capital Kabul, with the participation of presidents from Iran, Tajikistan and Pakistan as well as high-level officials from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his welcome speech to the foreign guests called Afghanistan “the birthplace of the ancient Nowruz” and thanked Turkmenistan for hosting the last year festival.

“We (the regional countries) are the owners of a great civilization. This common civilization along with geographical commonness in my view can form the foundation of a powerful empathy towards a better future among our countries,” Karzai addressed the festival participants held inside his heavily fortified palace.

He said the future of the region depended on the convergence and cooperation. “Without the regional cooperation and convergence, we can not remove or solve the existing problems.”

The Afghan President said that most of the regional countries were facing problems with terrorism.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Nowruz the day of moderation and asked countries celebrating Nowruz to continue fighting against extremism.

This is Rouhani’s first visit to Afghanistan since he took the office as Iran’s president in August 2013.

“The moderation of nature is lightless without the moderation of politics. We can not speak about the moderation in the region where a number of people are cultivating ignorance and violence,” Rouhani said.

In the meantime, he called Afghanistan an occupied country. “Afghanistan has been twice occupied by the alien forces in the past decades. The invaders brought violence and extremism in this country, harming people’s life,” Rouhani said, referring to the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the US-led NATO invasion that toppled Taliban in 2001.

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Pakistani and Tajik leaders emphasized for a peaceful region. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain said his country would do its best for a peace and coexistence in the region.

The festival was scheduled to be held in a hilltop rebuilt palace some 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Kabul city. But last week, the government announced it would be held inside the presidential palace due to unknown reasons. The Paghman hilltop palace which was destroyed during the civil war (1992-1996), was rebuilt and renovated by a 15 million dollar budget paid by the government.

Analysts believe that the government could not ensure the security of the hilltop palace, and took the ceremony inside compound the presidential palace

Since Wednesday, all the roads to the downtown and presidential palace have been closed to traffic.

Hafiz Ahmadi graduated from Faculty of Journalism, Kabul University in 2001. He has worked with different Afghan and international media in his 10-year career. Hafiz is a correspondent with the German Press Agency (dpa). Read other articles by Hafiz.