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Queens College alumna Aniqa Islam, a Glen Oaks resident, is taking no backseat when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.
Islam, 21, is currently preparing a report on a conference she organized on Afghanistan that attracted high−profile experts, including a former senior economic adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on the embattled Central Asian country to send to the Obama administration.
Islam hopes the in−depth report, which she will send sometime this summer, will inspire federal officials to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which was invaded by the United States in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We don’t want more Afghan civilians to be killed,” Islam said. “The U.S. cannot sustain its troop level in Afghanistan. It will contribute to more deaths of U.S. troops and Afghan civilians.”
Some 14 panelists spoke at the college’s 2009 Afghanistan Peace and Development Conference at the end of April, including M. Ishaq Nadiri, who served as the senior economic adviser to Karzai from 2005−08 and was a key architect of the 2001 Bonn Agreement that created Afghanistan’s interim government.
Ahmad Dawer Nadi, president of Flushing−based Afghanistan Peace Association and a Queens College alumnus, encouraged conference participants to work toward peace in his home country.
“I believe that if the leaders of a country do not have a vision for peace, their mission is bound to failure and their constituent nations will suffer greatly,” said Nadi, who served as the first president of the Afghan Students Association at Queens College in 1987.
“Tolerance bridges differences anchored on mutual respect for human rights,” he said. “If there is no respect for human rights, there will be no justice, and without justice there can be no genuine peace.”
Queens College President James Muyskens said it was “ideal” to hold the conference at the school because Flushing has the largest Afghan diaspora in the city and the second−largest in the country, according to the U.S. Census. More than 30,000 Afghans live in Flushing, second only to the 43,000 Afghans living in the San Francisco area.
“Important discussions such as these should not be confined within the halls of only Congress or Washington policy think−tanks, but must be shared with the general public who have an important state on the outcome of such policies,” Muyskens said of the conference.
Islam, who lived in Bangladesh, Germany and South Africa before moving to Queens, said she also wanted to engage Afghans in policy−making.
“U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan for seven years, but the economic developments in the country are so bad,” said Islam, who double−majored in political science and economics. “What has all the money gone into? Schools and health facilities need to be built.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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