During his years on the Hilltop, Hamed Rahim Wardak (COL ’97) spent much of his time studying ways to reform his native country, Afghanistan. Ten years later, Wardak may have just found a way. Wardak has established a reform movement called “Fedayeen-e-Sul,” an anti-Taliban bloc that seeks to build a democracy in the country currently occupied by U.S. military forces. Wardak, a Rhodes scholar, conceived the movement, whose name translated from Dari-Persian means “Sacrificers for Peace,” while traveling throughout Afghanistan and speaking with local tribal elders, according to a report last week on http://www.dailyindia.com. He said the movement will seek democratic reforms and liberal economic policies, such as free markets and low taxes, while portraying al Qaeda and the Taliban as “un-Islamic.” Wardak could not be reached for comment for this report. “The more I deal with elders, I realize the potential for democracy in this country is great,” Wardak said, according to the Feb. 13 report. “The type of ideals that we have, they also share; they just express it in different ways.” Wardak added that his movement aims to be “pan-ethnic, reformist and democratic.” Wardak transferred to Georgetown as a sophomore in the fall of 1994 after studying at the University of Maryland. His father, current Afghan Defense Minister Abdurrahim Wardak, immigrated with the rest of his family to the United States during the Taliban regime, said Anne Sullivan, senior associate dean of Georgetown College. A government major with a concentration in political theory, Hamed Rahim Wardak wrote his senior thesis under the mentorship of John Voll, associate director for the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for uslim-Christian Understanding, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and government professor Jeane Kirkpatrick. Voll recalled Wardak’s curiosity and passion for Afghanistan. “He was hard-working and personable,” Voll said. “He was always well-informed and enjoyable to talk to about contemporary issues on Afghan politics and history.” Wardak wrote his senior thesis about the way the relationship between the Afghan government in Kabul and lower levels of administration affected control of the country. “Between his senior thesis and his brilliant research, he left Georgetown with a good conceptual framework in political development,” Voll said. Voll said that in leading Fedayeen-e-Sul, Wardak is in a good position to help Afghan citizens break out of the current cycle of violence. His strongest asset, according to Voll, is his ability to deal with the competing interests of cosmopolitan city dwellers and rural village farmers. Zahid Bukhari, a director of the Alwaleed center, said many Afghans view the United States as a foreign power trying to impose an illegitimate government – a view that could cause problems for Wardak, since some may associate him with the United States. “The Afghan people are looking for freedom, so in that sense, Wardak’s message is fine,” Bukhari said. “The bone of contention will be whether Wardak is truly representative of the people over there or representative of the end of the government.” Wardak said in the report on dailyindia.com that he hopes to redefine Islamic names and symbols, replacing their radical associations with what he sees as their original, correct meanings. Emal Stanizai (GRD ’07), an Afghan resident, said he is unsure whether the political climate in Afghanistan is suitable for reform movements such as Fedayeen-e-Sul. “Bringing significant changes in such a short period of time, despite challenges that currently exist, is a difficult task, but it is happening now, though slowly,” Stanizai said. “There is a large number of political parties [and] movements; every [one] of them pursue their own or others’ political agenda,” Stanizai said. “Movements such as Wardak’s, as far as their intentions are good, can make [a] difference, but not to the extent one can anticipate.” Shireen Hunter, director of the Carnegie Project on Reformist Islam at the Alwaleed center, said she was also skeptical of how effective Wardak’s new movement will be, although she said she views it as a good start toward an Afghan democratic movement. “There is a Persian proverb known by [Afghans] that goes like this: `One flower does not make spring,'” Hunter said. “But spring begins with one flower. It will take a lot more efforts like this to be successful, but hopefully, by sowing the seed and allowing it to take root, there will eventually be success.”

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