Afghan Power Women

Two 30-Plus Power Women In Reckoning For Afghan Envoy To U.S.

Amitabh P Revi New Delhi, India 20 September 2018

For the first time in Afghanistan’s diplomatic history, two women in their late 30s are in the reckoning for a key assignment— ambassador to the United States. They are Roya Rahmani, currently Afghanistan’s first woman ambassador to Indonesia and Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, President Ashraf Ghani’s Senior Advisor on UN Affairs.

Highly placed sources in the Afghan Government told SNI exclusively that the Presidential Palace is expected to make a decision in the next few days.

39-year-old Rahmani presented her credentials in Jakarta in June 2016 and is also the first Afghan Ambassador to be accredited to ASEAN. By appointing her, President Ghani was fulfilling a promise to increase the representation of women in Afghan diplomatic missions overseas.

Rahmani is an ethnic Tajik and has been an aid worker, management consultant and software engineer. Before Jakarta, she served in various senior roles in the Foreign Ministry in Kabul.

Photo: Ambassador Roya Rahmani, Afghan Embassy, Indonesia

She has also worked with NATO, the UN, New York City Government, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department and the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Ambassador Rahmani has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from McGill University, Canada. She has a two-year-old daughter.

Photo: @farkhundanaderi

The second woman being considered, sources have told SNI, is 37-year-old Farkhunda Naderi, the President’s current top advisor in Kabul on UN Affairs. An ethnic Hazara Shia, she was a Member of Parliament till 2015. Naderi was educated in Kabul, completed her baccalaureate at Harrow’s, UK and Tashkent in Uzbekistan. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and has been a civil society activist.

Photo: @farkhundanaderi

One of them will replace Hamdullah Mohib as Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Washington at a crucial juncture in America’s longest ever war. 35-year-old Mohib took over as National Security Advisor, replacing the vastly experienced Hanif Atmar on August 29. He is married to an American analyst who is a specialist in Afghan affairs.

Photo: @hmohib

Atmar quit with other senior NSA and spy agency staff last month claiming political differences with President Ghani. He is among the many who are seen as positioning themselves for a shot at the Presidency in 2019.

Photo: @MHaneefAtmar

That top-level diplomatic shuffle was followed by a Presidential decree retiring eight Ambassadors and nearly 50 senior officials, reportedly because of their age. Afghan envoy to Spain Masood Khalili was one of those pensioned off. He served in India from 2001 to 2006 and was among those present when legendary guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated in 2001. Khalili recovered from serious injuries and returned to serve his country.

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