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Prince Abdul Ali Seraj on the Status of Women in Afghanistan, Part 1

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By Kathleen Wells, Race-Talk political correspondent

Historically, the Afghan women have always stood by their men. In fact, their bravery in times of defending their family or country is heralded in our history books. Rudyard Kipling had some choice verses about the valor of the Afghan women. During battles, the women accompanied the men in order to cook for them or take care of their injuries. -- Prince Abdul Ali Seraj

Prince Abdul Ali Seraj

Prince Abdul Ali Seraj is a direct descendant of nine generations of Kings of Afghanistan. He is the nephew of His Majesty King Amanullah (1919-1929), who was known as the Victor of Afghanistan, the grandson of His Majesty Amir Habibullah (1901-1919), and the great-grandson of His Majesty Amir Abdurrahman (1880-1901), who was known as the Iron King. His ancestry continues back for ten generations to His Majesty Amir Dost Mohammad, who assumed the throne in 1827. The Seraj part of Prince Ali’s name comes from the title given to King Habibullah - ‘Seraj -ul- Millat wa deen’ (Light of the Nation and Religion).

The Iron Amir is Prince Abdul Ali Seraj's great grandfather

Prince Ali received his education in Afghanistan and in the United States at the University of Connecticut. He earned degrees in Economics and Business/Public management.

After finishing college in the states, the Prince returned to Afghanistan and emerged as a cross-cultural entrepreneur by establishing several successful businesses, including several restaurants, the most famous being the Golden Lotus. He was also very actively involved in the welfare of his countrymen, assisting the poor in various charitable ways as well as involving himself in Afghan politics before having to flee the country under a Khalq-Parcham death warrant following the communist coup d’état and the killing of President Daoud in 1978. Fearing for his family’s life, Prince Ali escaped from Afghanistan and settled for 17 years in the United States and five years in Brazil. During this time, the Prince established successful businesses, one of them being a successful fiber optics company.

Upon his return to Afghanistan, the Prince continued his charitable work, building over three hundred homes and several mosques for the poor in several provinces and supplying school materials to thousands of students.

Because Prince Ali’s grandfather King Habibullah married 36 wives from different tribes, he has a blood link to most of the major tribes in Afghanistan. Also, his great-grandfather, His Majesty Amir Habibullah is fondly remembered inside Afghanistan as one of the few rulers in the last 250 years to unite the country’s tribes. Given these links and the overwhelming support of his family history by all the tribes and his involvement with the people, Prince Ali has developed a very important and unique relationship with all the different tribes in Afghanistan.

Armed with this special relationship and a keen knowledge of the different cultures and norms of the country and the enormous socioeconomic and political problems facing the nation -- the growing distance between the Central Government and the people, the resurgence of al Qaida/Taliban forces, the ensuing death and destruction of his people and country -- Prince Ali has embarked on a mission to unite the tribes as one. He believes that only through the unification of all tribes and the empowering of the people will the country and the fledgling young democracy be saved.

The Prince, therefore, together with tribal elders representing all the tribes of Afghanistan, established a grassroots trans-tribal movement under the name of National Coalition for Dialogue with Tribes of Afghanistan (NCDTA). Registered with the Ministry of Justice, the Coalition, now with offices in 32 Provinces, has made great strides toward its unification goal. This trans-tribal movement was formed to deal with all the deprivations suffered by the Afghan peoples in the past and continuing into the present.

Former Afghan presidential candidate Prince Abdul Ali Seraj speaks in an interview with Reuters in Kabul March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN)