Chair’s Statement, 2019 ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing

More than 65 delegations including 23 Ministers, representatives from 15 international bodies including the United Nations, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-Style Regional Bodies, as well as representatives from 28 private sector and not-for-profit organisations met in Melbourne, Australia, on 7–8 November 2019 for the ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing. The 2019 Conference built on the important work of the inaugural ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference in 2018, hosted by France, and its Paris Agenda.

The 2019 Conference assessed the evolving global and Indo-Pacific threat environment; built understanding of the key terrorism financing risks, trends and methods; and highlighted best practice from across the globe, between regions and across the public and private sector.

Consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2462 (2019) and the global standards set by the FATF, participants agreed to promote international and regional cooperation and improve capacity to combat the financing of terrorism.

In their discussions, participants addressed and reinforced their commitment to the five key themes of the Conference as follows:

  1. The evolving terrorist threat
    • Noted that the evolving and significant threat posed by terrorism is global in nature, and the agility and adaptability of terrorists and terrorist organisations to take advantage of emerging situations and weaknesses in counter-terrorism frameworks.
    • Recognised that terrorist organisations rely on funding to sustain their activities and disrupting and preventing financial flows to terrorist is one of the most effective ways to fight terrorism.
    • Recognised that despite the territorial defeat of Daesh (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, its capacity, including hundreds of millions of dollars generated over that time, to radicalise, recruit and carry violent acts remains a significant threat.
    • Recognised that strategies to counter the evolving terrorist threat need to be holistic and based on mutual cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil society.

2. Global responses to kidnap for ransom and terrorism financing

    • Noted that the transnational nature of terrorism and its financing requires a strong and coordinated global response supported by the work of multilateral forums such as the United Nations and the FATF, and underpinned by regional and bilateral partnerships.
    • Recognised that hostage-taking by terrorists to raise funds is a significant source of income for terrorist groups that supports their recruitment and operational capability, and is an incentive for groups to undertake further kidnappings for increased ransoms.
    • Considered international approaches to addressing hostage-taking and underlined the need for information sharing and international cooperation to break the terrorists’ business model.
    • Reaffirmed support for international efforts to prevent terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of the Internet, including through the Christchurch Call to Action.
    • Agreed to seek further opportunities to provide mutual support to address terrorism financing, including through exchange of information and intelligence, and capability building

3. Emerging technologies and terrorism financing risks

    • Noted the positive opportunities for developing countries offered by emerging financial technologies, such as financial inclusion and access to markets.
    • Noted that the opportunities brought by technology may also appeal to terrorists seeking platforms for propaganda, recruitment and raising funds to support malicious activities.
    • Acknowledged the importance of engagement between governments and the private sector to build a shared responsibility to safeguard against abuse by terrorists.
    • Recognised the need to identify emerging risks from new technology platforms and implement effective mitigation measures before widespread use by terrorist actors.
    • Reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the FATF standards and other international requirements in relation to new technologies and virtual assets.

4. Enhancing public-private partnerships to fight terrorism financing

    • Recognised the critical role played by the private sector to detect and prevent misuse of financial systems by terrorists.
    • Highlighted the opportunities offered by partnerships between government and the private sector to share and harness existing information and resources to develop strategies combating terrorism financing and other financial crimes.

5. Preventing the exploitation of not-for-profit organisations for terrorism purposes

    • Recognised the important role of not-for-profit organisations in providing activities and services that aim to improve the lives of individuals and societies.
    • Noted that terrorist organisations seek the same logistical capabilities as not-for-profit organisations, which makes them potentially vulnerable to abuse by terrorists and terrorist networks.
    • Discussed strategies for strengthening not-for-profit sectors against abuse by terrorists, including through conducting regional and national risk assessments, education and outreach.

 

Participants warmly welcomed the offer of India to host the next No Money for Terror conference in 2020 and to continue this important work combating terrorism financing.

Source: Government of Australia. Home Affairs, https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/…/ministerial-conference-sta…

First Afghan Film Festival
15th – 21st November 2019
ANU Kambri Precinct Cultural Centre

Screening program

The First Afghan Film Festival commemorates the 50 Year Anniversary of Afghanistan- Australia relations and the 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence. It also seeks to shed new light on the flourishing cultural dimension of Afghanistan and Australia’s friendly relationship and applaud the contributions of the people of both countries to the arts, sport, security and stability, and social movements.

The inaugural AFF is a testimony to the resilience of Afghan people and their dedication to telling the stories of their country, and a celebration of the triumph of Afghan cinema over the forces of extremism, which had once attempted to silence it.

All screenings are open to all and free-of-charge. For more information and regular updates please visit www.anufg.org.au/afghan2019 and follow #FAFF2019 on our social media platforms.

 

HAVA, MARYAMMV5BNjk1ZjNiODAtM2EyYS00MjYzLTllZjQtMWQxODY4NWEyZWQ2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjkxOTM4ODY. V1 SY1000 SX1500 AL  AND AYESHA

2019, 150 minutes, 15+

Director: Sahraa Karimi

Screening: Friday 15th November, 7:30pm

Set in Kabul, Hava, Maryam and Ayesha follows the lives of three Afghan women who represent different social backgrounds, each attempting to navigate big changes. Hava is a traditional woman who is invisible to the world and finds her only joy in talking to the baby in her belly. Maryam, an educated TV news reporter, is seeking a divorce from her unfaithful husband when she discovers she is pregnant. And 18-year-old Ayesha agrees to marry her cousin after her boyfriend disappears upon hearing the news of her pregnancy. Afghan entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards. Play Trailer.

 

BeganaBEGANA 

1986, 45 minutes

Director: Siddiq Barmak

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 4:00pm

A favourite of Afghan cinema and a nostalgia-inducing pick, Begana is a riveting tale directed by Golden Globe-winning Afghan director, Siddiq Barmak, and features Salam Sangi in the lead role; Afghan cinema’s answer to Amitabh Bachchan and one of its greatest stars. In this classic, Sangi plays a farmer working for a feudal landlord, who finds himself dishonoured by the landlord’s son and must seek his revenge. This screening will be opened by Salam Sangi and offers the exclusive opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with him and gain a rare insight to the world of Afghan cinema. 

 

Cameleers.jpgAFGHAN CAMELEERS IN AUSTRALIA

2014, 55 minutes, documentary

Director: Fahim Hashimy

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 5:00pm

By the turn of the nineteenth century, more than 3000 men from Afghanistan had made the long and harrowing voyage out to Australia to drive the camel trains in the country’s earliest colonial exploration, and to contribute to the development of trade and transportation througout Outback Australia. A significant number married Aboriginal or European wives and formed small settlements called ‘Ghan towns’. This screening features a panel discussion with Fahim Hashimy and Dr Mike Smith, academic and expert on Australia’s Afghan cameleers. Play Trailer.

 

 Osama_still_2.jpgOSAMA

2004, 83 minutes

Director: Siddiq Barmak

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 7:30pm

A 12-year-old Afghan girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion." With her husband and brother dead, killed in battle, the mother is left with nowhere to turn. Feeling that she has no other choice, she disguises her daughter as a boy. Now called 'Osama,' the girl embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she tries to hide her true identity. Inspired by a true story, the film is directed by the country’s much-celebrated Siddiq Barmak. Osama was the Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film and for the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Play Trailer.

 

Pamir

WHAT I SAW ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 

2019, 48 min, documentary

Director: Parwiz Shamal

Screening: Sunday 17th November, 4:00pm

The Pamir region is aptly known as the ‘Roof of the World’; typifying Afghanistan’s famous mountainous landscape. Lying at the confluence of some of the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the peaks of this part of Afghanistan reach to 4000 metres above sea-level, where the cold and wind mean that even trees cannot grow. It is this environment which the Pamir’s residents must compete with to survive. Directed, produced and filmed by Afghan news channel TOLO’s Parwiz Shamal, based on his own travels, What I Saw on the Roof of the World offers a rare glimpse at how Afghan Pamiris have kept some signs of their culture alive despite their isolation and lack of access to basic services and facilities. The screening will be opened by Parwiz Shamal, who will be travelling from Kabul to participate in the Film Festival and offer an exciting Q&A session on experiences in the Pamir and his travels throughout Afghanistan. Play Trailer.

 

Orphanage.jpgTHE ORPHANAGE

2019, 90 minutes

Director: Shahrbanoo Sadat

Screening: Sunday 17th November, 6:00pm

It is 1989 and 15-year-old orphan Qodrat daydreams about Bollywood as he scrapes a living scalping tickets on the streets of Kabul. The police arrest him and send him to a Soviet orphanage, and after Islamist forces take over the government, he and his fellow orphans find themselves defending their new home. The Orphanage is beautifully photographed portrait of Kabul in 1989 that blends gritty realism with folklore and bursts of Bollywood musical. It was written and directed by emerging Afghan film-maker Shahrbanoo Sadat, whose debut was the acclaimed Wolf and Sheep in 2016. It had its worldwide premiere at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019. Play Trailer.

 

ALTTP.jpgA LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

2017, 83 minutes

Director: Roya Sadat

Screening: Monday 18th November, 7:30pm

Soraya works hard to juggle her role as a married mother of two with her job as head of the Kabul Crime Division, which brings her into conflict with her less successful husband Karim. When she has to investigate her father-in-law, Karim attacks her and she accidentally kills him in self-defence. As a result, she is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Her only hope is to write a letter to the president of Afghanistan himself, pleading her case. A Letter to the President was written and directed by Roya Sadat, the first woman director since the Taliban era. It was Afghanistan’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 90th Academy Awards in 2018. "A Letter to the President" is the first Afghan film ever to be debuted at the Venice Film Festival. That is a "first" also for the Afghan film industry. Play Trailer.

 

The Patience StoneTHE PATIENCE STONE

2012, 102 minutes

Director: Atiq Rahimi

Screening: Tuesday 19th November, 7:30pm

In an unspecified war-torn country a woman watches over her husband who has been left in a coma after being shot in the neck. As she sits with him she tells him of her suffering and loneliness over the years, and the dreams she had - all the things she could never say before, although they’d been married for a decade. He thereby becomes her ‘patience stone’ (or syngue sabour) a magic stone which, according to Persian mythology, can shield its user from suffering and hardship. The Patience Stone was directed and co-written by Atiq Rahimi, adapted from his own bestselling novel of the same name. It was Afghanistan’s official entry of to the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards in 2013. Play Trailer.

 

JIRGAJirga

2018, 78 minutes

Director: Benjamin Gilmour

Screening: Wednesday 20th November, 7:30pm

Mike Wheeler, a former Australian soldier returns to Afghanistan to seek forgiveness from the family of a civilian man he accidentally killed during the war. In doing so he puts his life in the hands of the Jirga – the village justice system. Jirga movingly depicts the weight of a soldier's grief and the human capacity for change in the wake of awful tragedy. Written and directed by Benjamin Gilmour, it portrays Afghanistan not as a ravaged battleground but as a place of stark beauty with a rich cultural history. It was Australia’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 91st Academy Awards in 2019. Play Trailer.

 


Unknown.jpeg
ROCKABUL

2018, 90 minutes

Director: Travis Beard

Screening: Thursday 21st November, 7:30pm

This documentary reveals a unique side of modern Afghan culture through the eyes of the Afghan youths who started District Unknown, the country's first metal band. The band is a direct result of vast amounts of non-military aid provided by the U.S government in an attempt to counter conflict with culture. However, their freedom of expression comes at a cost as the band and their followers clash with the conservative elements around them. Directed by Australian journalist and filmmaker Travis Beard, who lived in Kabul for seven years, RocKabul features never before seen footage of Kabul and the underground party scene to show a part of Afghan life that is rarely shown in Western media. Play Trailer.

* * *

For additional information please contact the Embassy at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at +61 2 62827311.

Please find press releases in English, Dari and Pashto.

The Festival Posters are available in English and Dari/Pashto. 

On Sunday the 20th of October the Embassy of the I. R. of Afghanistan welcomed guests and visitors into the Embassy. The Open Day was part of the Windows to the World program; an initiative of the ACT Government to engage participating embassies and high commissions and provide a unique insight to these iconic buildings. 2019 marked the Embassy of Afghanistan’s first time participating in Windows to the World, together with more than 25 other embassies around Canberra. 

The event was a great success and saw over 800 visitors, who were able to enjoy a wide range of activities and gain perspective on Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage. There was live traditional music throughout the day, dry fruits and saffron tea for sampling, delicious traditional food for sale and a range of jewellery, carpets, and clothing on display. There was also an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Afghan-Australia diplomatic relations, alongside traditional artwork and paintings. Guests were also treated to kite-flying and could have their names written in Persian calligraphy, try on samples of national dress and have their photos taken. 

The Embassy wishes to extend its thanks to all volunteers and participants from the Afghan community in Sydney and Canberra for their generous assistance in making the Open Day a success and providing their talents and skills, and to all those visitors who came along to enjoy some of what Afghanistan has to offer. The Embassy looks forward to returning to the Windows to the World program in the future. 

Transcript of Ambassador Wahidullah Waissi's Speech at the Sydney Opera House
14 October 2019

Her Excellency the Honorable Margaret Beasely,
Air Commodore William Kourelakas, 
Honourable Melanie Gibbon, MP
Ms Julia Finn, MP
Dr Ahmad Sarmast,
Excellencies, Members of Diplomatic and Consular Corps,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Asalam-o-Alaikum, Good Evening,

I am delighted to address this incredible gathering on the occasion of Zohra All Female Orchestra`s debut Australian tour in such an iconic place - one of the worlds’ most distinctive art performing hubs.

I extend my thanks to the Government of the NSW and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for supporting this initiative. I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for making this evening more meaningful by joining and playing together with Zohra Orchestra. 
I appreciate our active Afghan community members for their contribution, dedication and support to this significant gathering.

In celebration of 100 years of Afghanistan's independence and 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Afghanistan, we are honored to present the Afghan National Institute of Music's Zohra all-female orchestra. 

This promises to be an extremely unique musical experience, which simultaneously supports the development of people-to-people and cross-cultural links between Australia and Afghanistan. 
Distinguished Participants,

Beyond our formal bilateral relations, the transnational links and cultural engagement between our two friendly countries can be traced back to more than one and half centuries ago; since the arrival of the first Afghan cameleers, who travelled to Australia, made their homes here, and provided significant contributions to the economic connection and construction of this beautiful continent's outback, particularly in the areas of transportation and telecommunication networks. 

Now, to further contribute to this legacy of connecting the hearts and minds of Aussie - Afghan people, Zohra Orchestra are here with us. 

They will inspire us by sharing their message of hope and by showcasing a new and different face of Afghanistan through music, our powerful and universal language. 

Music has a long and illustrious history in Afghanistan – it is an important part of our civilization which goes beyond thousands of years. From the tea-house music of the north, to the Falak music of the mountainous reaches of Badakhshan, to the Attan of the south and east - music has long been a way of bringing together the many different cultures and languages that Afghanistan is made up of. It draws upon classical and folkloric poetry to tell stories and influences and has been influenced by the surrounding nations. The performance we will hear tonight showcases different ancient traditional instruments, which give sound to this rich and diverse music.

Although this ancient art has suffered and faced challenges in recent decades, there is a surviving legacy which we will witness tonight. From a country where we can find 1500-year-old cave paintings showing female instrumentalists, it is only fitting that the internationally-acclaimed Zohra orchestra is a continuation of this ancient musical tradition. 

These talented young musicians embody the resilience and determination of Afghan youth and women to continue pushing for their rights and carrying their country from ashes and blood towards enlightenment, hope and progress. Their bravery is a role model for a future Afghanistan, where extremism and radicalism will have no place at all. 

My Government pays particular attention to women’s empowerment and youths development both in the public and private sectors. Afghanistan has the largest population of youth in the region and it is necessary to consider their pivotal role in government programs, cultural activities, art, music, and sport, inter Elia, the cricket.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends of Australia, friends of Afghanistan,

Your presence, engagement and support at this concert is very much promising. It is not only worthwhile for our younger generation but for the whole people of Afghanistan as well. Every clap in this concert will be a slap in the ugly face of those who continue to deny fundamental human rights for Afghans, especially for women and girls. 

I would like to conclude by giving two key messages, one to my Afghan fellows and the other for Australian Friends:

پیام فشرده ی من به هموطنان عزیز مقیم آسترالیا اینست، که اراده و شهامت بانوان آرکستر زهره میتواند الگوی خوبی برای همه ما باشد. این دختران هنرمند توانسته اند با بسا مشکلات و ناهنجاری های داخل کشور مقابله کرده و از میان خاک و خون و خاکستر چهره ی مثبت، متفاوت، سازنده و نوید بخش از افغانستان به جهانیان عرضه کنند. اراده قوی و حسن وطن دوستی شان قابل تحسین است. اشتراک امروز شما در حمایت این نو بهاران پیام همدلی و اطمینان برای ایجاد یک جامعه سالم و مرفه برای افغانستان میدهد.

دې مېرمنو لپاره کوم ځانګړی قوم، ژبه، ملیت، او مذهب نه، بلکه د افغانستان نوم او د هغه درې رنګه بیرغ ارزښت درلود او لري یي. ځای لري چې د ټولو هغو وطنوالو ملګرو څخه د زړه له کومې مننه وکړم چې د دې لوی محفل په اطلاع رَسَوَنه، تشویق، ملاتړ او بالاخره خپل ګډون سره د افغانستان د سفارت او نورو تنظیموونکو سره په دې پرتمینه برنامه کې همکاري وکړه، ونډه یې واخیسته او خپل افغاني دَین یي ادا کړ. 

Finally, my brief message to our Aussie friends: 

Despite being geographically separated by far distance, the hearts and minds of the friendly nations of landlocked Afghanistan and sea-locked Australia are brought closer by their shared aspirations towards peace, prosperity, freedom and democracy. In addition to defence and development cooperation, there is huge potential to further strengthen our mutually beneficial relationships in the areas of people to people understandings, education, sport, art, music and culture as well. Zohra orchestra therefore is a role model.

Long live our friendship!

The 12th and 14th of October marked two historical milestones in the history of both Australia and Afghanistan and their bilateral relations. Afghanistan’s first and only all-female orchestra, students of Afghanistan’s only music school (ANIM), performed to a sold-out audience at two iconic Australian locations. Both concerts at Monash University and the Sydney Opera House were attended by over 1500 guests, who all gathered to celebrate the beauty and resilience of Afghan music, Afghan women and Afghan youth. The group of young musicians were accompanied by teaching staff at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), and the school’s founder and director, Dr Ahmad Sarmast. 

Created by Dr Sarmast in 2015, the Orchestra has since performed on numerous international tours since 2017, including a performance at the World Economic Forum. They have since gained recognition from admirers and critics alike, as well as being the recipient of several prestigious awards. These include the Freemuse Award and Success for Women of Afghanistan from the Institute for Peace, Media, and Good Governance in 2017. Later in 2018, they were conferred with the Montluc Resistance Liberte Award. 

Their distinctive sound is based on a harmonious blend of classical Afghan and Western instruments in a manner that simultaneously generates cultural harmonies and showcases the nuances of traditional Afghan music – allowing them to explore their identities as young women and as Afghans. The messages conveyed by Zohra Orchestra in their performances points towards the transformative power of music and its role in empowering women. 

Zohra Orchestra’s debut Australia tour was a joint initiative led by the Embassy of the I. R. of Afghanistan and the Government of Australia to showcase the cultural and musical heritage of Afghanistan and celebrate 50 years of Afghan-Australian bilateral relations and 100 years of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence. The strength of this bilateral relationship was reflected in the joint performance by the Zohra Orchestra and Australian students from Melbourne and Sydney, who came together to play Afghan classics, contemporary music and an Australian favourite. 

The tour was covered by numerous news outlets, including ABC, SBS and TOLO news and received great positive feedback – praising the initiative of ANIM and the opportunities it has created for Afghanistan’s women and girls, who comprise a third of its students. The coverage of the two successful concerts also praised Zohra Orchestra’s role in reviving the ancient art of music since it was banned and repressed under Taliban rule. 

Zohra Orchestra’s performance at the Sydney Opera House was the first performance at that venue by an Afghan musician or group – and it sent a powerful message of peace and harmony, and hope for the future. The Embassy of Afghanistan wishes to carry forward this message into the future, and extends its thanks to the generous support of the groups which allowed this historical music tour to be possible. 

The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is proud to announce the upcoming Zohra Orchestra performance, in celebration of 50 Years of Afghan-Australian bilateral relations and the 100thAnniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence. As part of their debut Australian tour, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music’s Zohra Orchestra will be showcasing two major performances in Melbourne at Monash University on the 12thof October, and at the Sydney Opera House on the 14thof October. 

This tour is giving Australian and Afghans alike the rare opportunity to witness Afghanistan’s first all-female, internationally acclaimed orchestra. These 75 brave young women are students of Afghanistan’s only music school, defying the odds to attain an education and play music together, allowing them to explore their culture and identities as artists and as women. Since embarking on their first international tour in 2017, Zohra have garnered a substantial amount of praise and attention from critics and spectators across the globe, as well as awards including the Freemuse Award and Success for Women of Afghanistan from the Institute for Peace, Media, and Good Governance in 2017. Later in 2018, they were conferred with the Montluc Resistance Liberte Award.Their distinctive sound is based on a harmonious blend of classical Afghan and Western instruments in a manner that simultaneously generates cultural harmonies and showcases the nuances of traditional Afghan music.

Organised by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in cooperation with the Government of Australia and the Government of New South Wales, Zohra Orchestra’s tour to Australia aims to raise cultural engagement and people-to-people links between the two countries, and enhance people-to-people links in celebration of 50 years of this relationship. It will provide audiences with the opportunity to attain an extremely unique musical experience, whilst simultaneously showcasing the resilience and determination of Afghan youth and women to continue fighting for their rights and carry their country from strength to strength, and their dedication to ensuring that extremism has no place in Afghanistan. 

Registration is essential and can be made at www.afghanaustralia.com.au. The Embassy looks forwarding to welcoming all attendees to this iconic event at Monash University on the 12thof October, and Sydney Opera House on the 14thof October to celebrate the two important milestones of 2019. 

Distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, 

Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senators,

Friends of Australia, Friends of Afghanistan, 

Ladies and gentlemen. 

I would like to begin this evening by expressing my sincere gratitude to the many familiar faces and friends who play an integral role in the continued growth of Afghan-Australian relations. 

I would particularly like to acknowledge the Australian Strategic Policy Instituteand the Executive Director, Mr. Peter Jennings,for their continued support, and Professor William Maleyof the Australian National Universityfor his unique insights and knowledge of Afghanistan, and without whom tonight’s event and this brilliant publication would not be possible. 

I wish to also extend my thanks to all behind the scene staff and members of ASPIfor their efforts in putting together this launch.

The launch of the ‘Australia-Afghanistan relations: reflections on a half century’ publication in cooperation with ASPI and Professor Maley is part of a series of events that have taken place throughout 2019, and I thank you all for your attendance. 

Each guest here tonight reflects the shared history, endurance, and future potential of a productive and long-standing friendship. I look forward to welcoming you at upcoming events, in particular the grand Anniversary Concert being held at the Sydney Opera House on 14th October, where Afghanistan’s All Female Zohra Orchestra will be performing. 

Introducing the publication

Tonight’s launch is a celebration of a great milestone; on this occasion of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Afghanistan, we can take a moment to reflect on our ongoing efforts to promote peace and security through military cooperation, socio-economic development, and people-to-people exchange. 

This valuable publication is a celebration of each of these things; and it also lays out the history, challenges, achievements and future directions of this relationship. 

‘Reflections on a half-century’ is an apt title to begin exploring each of these achievements, and the wealth of information contained within is a testament to the productivity of the Afghan-Australian relationship. 

Aus-Afg relations: historical background

(1) The foundation of our relationship begins when the first Afghan cameleerswho arrived on the Australian continent over 150 years ago. From there, they went on to contribute to the development of inland trade routes and became integral in shaping the Australian outback.  Gone but not forgotten, their lives and experiences live on through the kinships they formed with Indigenous Australians; and through the passenger train which travels between Adelaide and Darwin known as The Ghan.

(2) Our next breakthrough occurs on the 20thMarch 1969when Mr L. H. Border was appointed Australia’s first Ambassador to Afghanistan, and shortly afterwards in 1975 Mr Ali Ahmad Popal presented his credentials as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia. These first diplomatic links were soon followed by visit of then Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s to Kabul in the same year, further cementing the first formal link between the countries.

(3) It wasn’t until the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States on 11thof September 2001that saw our strongest challenge in the face of adversity. Our relationship entered a new dimension after Australia committed over 25,000 Australian men and women over two decades, to support Afghan military forces eradicate the threat of International terrorism and extremism. Sadly, 42 of these service personnel made the ultimate sacrifice in the ongoing pursuit of peace. They will always remain in our collective consciousness. It is therefore only fitting we take a moment to express our sincere gratitude to all the brave Australian service personnel and their families for their sacrifice. On behalf of the Afghan people and the Government of Afghanistan, I offer my deepest respect and admiration to your valiant hearts. 

Aus-Afg relations: current objectives

It has truly been a remarkable journey for all of us – over 50 years in the making. Today, Australia remains a staunch friend in difficult times, and this has only been reinforced in recent years. Australia’s involvement in the ongoing transition to a lasting peace and security in Afghanistan is commendable. 

Australia has an interest in facilitating Afghanistan’s transition towards prosperity, security and self-reliance. According to DFAT, Australia is committed to enhance human security in Afghanistan through aid. As a result, Australia is a long-standing donor to Afghanistan.  Since 2001, it has provided more than AUD1 billion in official development assistance. 

I am further humbled by recent developments that Australia will contribute additional hundreds of Australian Defence Force personnel to support the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul. Furthermore, I am pleased to see Australia continues to reaffirm its Brussels 2016 commitment by providing a further $82.1 million in Overseas Development Assistance. 

This assistance will remain instrumental to preserving and ensuring the steady gains we’ve seen in the areas of 

  • economic growth
  • effective and accountable government
  • empowering women and girls, and; 
  • building resilienceand supporting at-risk populations

These four dimensions provide a framework for future developments and areas of strategic cooperation. They are also the four strategic objectives adopted by Australia’s Aid Investment Plan for Afghanistan. 

Aus-Afg relations: future directions and outlook

These strategic objectives form the basis for future cooperation, each of them crucial in Afghanistan’s transitory phase as it goes towards becoming a secure and self-reliant state whose people can enjoy a lasting peace. It is this, the people of Afghanistan, on whom the focus for the next 10 years of the Afghan-Australian should be; in particular, on developing people-to-people linkswith our friends in Australia. 

Though Afghanistan’s landlocked nature and isolation from the world has exemplified several unique challenges, such enhancements in global connectivity and cross-cultural exchangehave created a new generation of Afghans and Australians conducting business and strengthening a shared future. As we undergo a critical transition towards a new era of peace and prosperity, we must recognise the people-to-people exchanges that take place, often with little to no recognition, which further strengthens the bond between our two countries. These people are professors; journalists; artists; athletes; students; leaders; and activists. For want of a better phrase, they are the great silent majority of heroes who reflect the very essence of the Afghan-Australian relationship; its history; and its future. 

I look forward to further cooperation with ASPIto bring to light the long-term cooperation in these key areas, including those emerging challengessuch as climate change and its impacts for Afghan agriculture and internal displacement. I also inviteother think thanks and Australian Government institutesto join in laying out an outlook for the Afghan-Australian relationship in the coming ten years, with a focus on a transition from the military/security paradigm to one of people-to-people cooperation and business/trade. It is important to emphasise that a long-term strategic partnershipconcentrating on key goals will be the only way to enforce the rule-based international order that is so crucial for stability and security in Afghanistan. 

I have confidence that moving forward with these strategic goals in mind with the cooperation of ASPI and the Australian Government and people, a new phase of the fruitful Afghan-Australian relationship will open up and lead us from strength to strength. It is this spirit of cooperation which we are recognising tonight – once again, thank you all for your attendance and ongoing support. I look forward to the next 50 years! 

Wahidullah Waissi

It is now fifty years since diplomatic relations were formally established between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Kingdom of Afghanistan. Superficially, the two countries might seem to have little in common.

Nonetheless, there is more to unite Australians and Afghans than one might think at first glance. Even before the Australian colonies federated, Afghans made their way to Australia to provide transport by camel in Australia’s inland. By the time of the 2016 census 46,800 Afghans were living in Australia. And since 2001, more than 25,000 members of the Australian Defence Force have served in Afghanistan. Recent years have brought Australia and Afghanistan far closer to each other than ever before in their history.

Professor William Maley explores some of the key dimensions of the development of this relationship. Since 2001, the state-to-state relationship has developed additional dimensions – diplomatic, military, developmental, and humanitarian – which have been augmented by significant people-to-people ties despite all the difficulties that surround travel between the two countries.

Yet for all this, what ultimately binds the two countries together is that Australia has a strong interest in seeing the transition in Afghanistan that was inaugurated in 2001 – a complex mixture of statebuilding, institutional development, economic change, civil society activism, and enhancement of human rights and freedoms  – continue down the broad path that was laid out at that time. A failure in Afghanistan is likely to involve serious adverse strategic consequences for Australia.

To access this book, please click here.

To Celebrate Centenary of Reclamation of Afghanistan’s Independence and 50 Years of Diplomacy between Afghanistan and Australia 

In celebration of 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence and the 50 Year Anniversary of Afghanistan-Australia Diplomatic Relations, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music’s Zohra Orchestra will be showcasing two major performances at Melbourne & Sydney’s iconic landmarks as part of their debut Australian tour. 

Saturday 12th October 2019, Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Melbourne 

Monday 14th October 2019, Sydney Opera House, Sydney

This tour is giving Australians the rare opportunity to witness Afghanistan’s first all-female, internationally acclaimed orchestra as they are led by the country’s first ever female conductor. As students of Afghanistan’s only music school, these seventy-five brave young women are defying the odds to attain an education and play music together, allowing them to explore their culture and identities as artists and as women.

Their distinctive sound is based on a harmonious blend of classical Afghan and Western instruments in a manner that simultaneously generates cultural harmonies and showcases the nuances of traditional Afghan music. Since embarking on their first international tour in 2017, Zohra Orchestra have garnered substantial praise and attention from critics and spectators across the globe, in addition to several awards. To learn more about Zohra Orchestra, click here.

Initiated and led by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in cooperation with the Government of Australia and the Government of New South Wales, Zohra Orchestra’s tour to Australia aims to raise cultural engagement and engagement between the two countries, and enhance people-to-people links in celebration of 50 years of this relationship. “This 50th Anniversary is an opportunity to reaffirm Australia’s support to Afghanistan, particularly as the peace process continues and we go forward into the next 50 years of this bilateral relationship, focusing on women’s empowerment and role in society” – His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor General of Australia

“Zohra Orchestra’s Australian tour provides audiences with the opportunity to attain an extremely unique musical experience, whilst simultaneously supporting the development of people-to-people and cultural links between Australia and Afghanistan. It is a showcase of the resilience and determination of Afghan youth and women to continue fighting for their rights and carry their country from strength to strength” – H. E. Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Australia

APPROVED MEDIA IMAGES DOWNLOAD HERE.

For further information and to book please visit www.afghanaustralia.com.au 
For media enquiries and further information, please contact Nikolas O’Meara on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0414 497 791.

Brisbane, 19 August 2019 - The Queensland Afghan Community Association (QACA) in collaboration with the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Canberra celebrated 100thAnniversary of Afghanistan`s Reclamation of Independence and 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Afghanistan in Brisbane on 19thAugust 2019.

The commemoration was attended by a large number of Afghan community members and some Australian local officials. 

Dr Rashid Mohmood, QACA President welcomed the participants and thanked Australian government for hosting Afghan communities and for assisting the people of Afghanistan in various spheres, particularly in the area of empowering women and girls and people to people bonds.

Mr. Mostainbillah Balagh, Embassy counsellor conveyed the message of HE Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Canberra, on the two aforementioned historic occasions. 

In the message, preservation of Afghanistan’s freedom inherited by the Afghan brave ancestors, in particular the reformist King Amanullah who gained Afghanistan’s independence in 1919 were highlighted as the responsibility of all Afghans either inside or outside of the country. The message also reflected on the shared history, endurance and future potential of long- lasting friendship between Afghanistan and Australia.

Hon Stirling Hinchliffe MP, Minister for local Governance, Minister for Racing and Multicultural Affairs of Queensland who was the special guest in the festivity praised the friendly and diverse relations between Australia and Afghanistan from diplomatic engagements to development and defence cooperation, cultural ties and sport. 

The marvellous evening gathering continued with various activities including music performance, poetry, Afghan traditional cuisine and lighting up the iconic Brisbane story bridge with the colors of the Afghan flag sponsored by the Brisbane City Council. 

The festive event concluded with an award- giving ceremony being presented by the Embassy counsellor to key organizers of the event.

Go to Top