The importance of Afghan refugees in bolstering bilateral relations between the two countries cannot be overstated, Ajmal Alimzai, the Cultural Attache at the Embassy of Afghanistan has said.
“When one person comes from a society, they bring with them their culture, their food and their habits. This is very important. One thing that is good is that we have a lot of cultural similarities with each other,” Alimzai told National Herald on the sidelines of the first day celebrations of the Afghanistan-India Cultural Week at the Afghan Embassy in the Capital.
The three-day festival from Nov 29 through Dec 1, the first ever event of its kind, featured cultural shows, art exhibitions, lectures on culture and Afghan cuisine
The land-locked country has the dubious distinction of producing the most refugees in the world, due to years of war and insurgency. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), nearly 11,000 Afghan refugees resided in India, as of 2016.
“The Indian people know about our clothes, our habits. They like our music, they like our food. And the Afghans like the Indian culture as well,” Alimzai said.
The diplomat said that the bilateral relations between the two countries was based on people-to-people contacts, and that is where the Afghan refugees figured in the equation.
The cultural ambassador of Afghanistan stated that it was important for the younger generations of two countries to know about each other’s history. “Our youngsters should know how deep our cultural and historic bonds are,” he said.
The Afghanistan-India Cultural Week was kicked off on November 29, with a conference on cultural between the nations over four different phases of history—traditional, medieval, modern and contemporary, held on the day.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, also present at the inauguration, hailed Afghanistan’s society as tolerant and diverse during his address.
"The Gurudwaras and the two temples in Kabul itself are testament to tolerant and diverse society of Afghanistan", said Sharma.