Learning from History with Dr. Qayyum Kochai

Posted October 7th, 2014 at 4:32 pm (UTC+0)


by Niala Mohammad

Dr. Qayyum Kochai, a former Afghan diplomat in his mid-seventies that fled Afghanistan with his family nearly two decades ago during the Soviet invasion. As I sat with him in his living room on the outskirts of “Little Kabul”, I received one of the greatest history lessons of my life, leaving me with a glimmer of hope for the future of Afghanistan.

Dr. Kochai is the quintessential Pashtun man, with his tall stature and grayish-green eyes; his every word was delivered with poise and class – leaving me in awe of his knowledge and experience. A native of Logar Province, Dr. Kochai holds a Ph.D in Political Science from the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow; he possesses a wealth of knowledge on South and Central Asian history. Like most elderly Afghan men, he is fluent in several languages including English, Pashto, Dari, and Russian.


As we sipped on green tea and nibbled on biscuits, he described to me his time as a young political officer during the late 1960’s and 70’s at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan. He served as a counselor and Charge d’ Affaires for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Bulgaria.


During the 70’s he served at the Afghan Embassy in Moscow, a crucial time for Soviet-Afghan relations where he developed a strong contempt for the Soviet Communist ideology. A contempt that had him jailed for two years by the Communist government in Pul-e-Charkhi, a prison notorious for torture and execution after the Soviet invasion. He was released along with many others that opposed the Communist regime without consequence in 1980 and left Afghanistan that same year for Europe where he stayed until 1982 in hopes that peace and stability would return to his homeland. Dr. Kochai eventually migrated to San Francisco with his family, and found it difficult to look back. But he eventually did look back, and he told me that despite all of the present obstacles, he still has hope for Afghanistan and the Pashtun people.


Dr. Kochai’s life and career were defined by the history of Afghanistan. As a diplomat, he lived at the epicenter of Afghan politics and history for years. Discussing King Zahir Shah, he viewed him as a fair man and a symbol of long standing peace. He also viewed Mohammad Daud Khan as a proponent of change that became a symbol popular among the Afghan youth. When it came to Russia, however, the tone on the conversation changed instantly. As a first-hand witness to the Soviet destruction of Afghanistan, he views Stalin as one of the most ruthless dictators in history. We spoke in length about the Communist era, the Afghan Civil War, warlords, the Taliban regime during the 1990’s, Al Qaida’s role in Afghanistan, American presence, and even his views on the Karzai administration of the Afghan government. Because he lived through all of these historical events at the eye of the storm, he had very interesting views to offer from every angle. Despite the ups and downs he has seen in Afghanistan over the past four generations, he has hope that Afghanistan will prevail if the right leadership is chosen. He is a strong supporter of President Ashraf Ghani, and believes that he could be the proponent of change that Afghanistan so desperately needs. “The Afghan people are tired of war and this current [Karzai] government. They want change. Ashraf is the only one who could bring change and security.”

Although Dr. Kochai has had several opportunities to return back to Afghanistan and take up ministerial positions, he refused to work for a cause that might force him to compromise his morals and values. So, for the last 18 years, Dr. Kochai has worked for a non-profit organization in San Francisco as a counselor, helping mend families and advising them through their difficult times – a way to give back to the community that he and his family now consider home.

But recently Dr. Kochai returned to Afghanistan during the 2014 Afghan Presidential Elections to help his fellow Afghans transition to democracy-a step that took tremendous courage. Leaving behind a life of security and stability in San Francisco to fulfill a commitment he made to his country and his people over 30 years ago.

kochai kaka

His wife Malal, a stunning woman with jet black hair and turquoise-green eyes, showed me pictures of their two daughters and their families. Dr. Kochai also showed me several photos illustrating his incredible life experiences, and I found myself swelling with pride to share an ethnicity with such a distinguished and honorable man.


Dr. Qayyum Kochai’s book “Si Asi Stoonzay Aw Zama Daredze” (English Translation: Political Problems and My Standpoint) is available in Pashto and Dari at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.


14 responses to “Learning from History with Dr. Qayyum Kochai”

  1. Dr. Karim Gharwal says:

    I know Mr. Dr. Kochai since 1980, he is really an experience and proud personality, we have meet us in Austria Vienna again. unfortunately in spite of our both pig-headed style it started in connection Afghanistan a conflict and I was very much disappointed because I never expected from him such action and I as pig-headed too started to discusse with him and he became angry and so our relation in Vienna was later on not so as we had it in Kabul!

    I was and I am grateful for his help in Kabul, he is really a good friend, my house was in Wazir Akbar khan too, I was walking direction home, he stopped his car and said, be careful behind you are KHAD SPIES with their car and they are pursued you!

    I knew his deceased brothers too, this family and clan plaid an historical roll in Afghanistan historical in the past, I hope very much that Mr. President Dr. Ghani succeed with his intention for Afghan Nation, his father was very proud on him and he always talked about him!!!

  2. Dr. Karim Gharwal says:

    Mohtaram Dr. Kochai mentioned to some body some years ago that Mr. Gharwal is patriot and he has one weakness, it means, when he achieve goal then he run away!

    He knows me very well that it is not so but he wants to understand so!
    I was contacted 1979 by deceased General Abdul Wali ( he had my phone nummber from respected friend) and said I have to come urgent to Italy and you have to go to Afghanistan!

    I had flight to Italy and discussed long and I said very open to him that I can not trust you because you are using people for your own purpose and you prefered always flatter and I hate such behavior, he told me, his majestic count on you and his father stayed 3 months under security of your clan and you can manage it and communists regime can not stay longer and we have to avoid to take mullahs the power, I said okay but we have to be ohnest to each other and my going to Afghanistan will be top secret, he said his majestic is waiting for you and be sure that this will keep strongly secret among our three!

    I risked a lot and in year 2001 I told his majestic please do not go to Afghanistan because it changed every thing and all murderer and rubber will be put on the power!

    They said I have to come to Afghanistan, Pashtoons are always mistrusted poeple when I heared this word then I was very angry and said okay it is your dirty decision and I will not join you!

    In year 2003 I repeated in present of Mr. Arsala Amin again my request and said Mr. Karzai has not the quality to run the government, he has to resign and let his majastic to take over the leadership if Mr. Karzai does not do it then I am going with you together to media and you should announce it to nation that your name is misused, the nation is suffering and I am going back to Italy, also Mr. Dr. Kochai, I am not running away but I have strong believing in Nation and I wanted to stopp the cheating of nation but not succeed, so, I wish Mr. President Dr. Ghani great success to bring peace, security and prosperity for the nation!

    P. S. : I have written recently an email to Mr. President speaker ( Dr. Salarzai ) and offered my help to bring peace and security in country, I have such quality otherwise I would never offer myself for such heavy responsibilty and in additional I stressed if Mr. President wish my offer then after completed my duty( without any payment) I want to return back to Austria and enjoy my retirement!

  3. M. Jamil Hanifi says:

    There is no official record in the Soviet Academy of Sciences or the Russian Academy of Science about a “Ph. D. in political Science” awarded to Abdul Qayum Kochai. This bogus claim by Abdul Qayum Kochai has a stark ideological wrinkle as well: How can a Kabuli clerk at the Afghan embassy in Moscow who hates communism, Stalin, and all that the Soviet system stood for be awarded an academic degree by the Soviet Academy of Sciences? That academy was steeped from top to bottom in communist ideology. Also ask this comprador fabricator about his work as a translator (“terp”) for the American occupation forces in Afghanistan and his work for a local government (Oakland) in California. Also inquire about the source(s) of a large amount of capital in California which he currently owns.

    • nialam says:

      Dear Mr. Hanif,
      In response to your accusations, VOA contacted Dr. Qayyum Kochai and he responded with the following statement:

      “What Jamil wrote about me is a lie and slander. I worked as an Afghan diplomat at Afghan embassy in Moscow since 1967 to the end of 1970. Prior to my assignment at the Embassy I received a scholarship and was sent by the Afghan government to Moscow University in Moscow where I learned the Russian language. I also received my MA from the same University in 19th Century Russian Literature.

      When I was working for the Afghan Embassy in Moscow, I took evening classes to write my thesis of Ph.D in Academia of Science in Moscow under the guidance of Professor Agromovich who founded the Institute of Spectroscopy of the Russian Academy of Science and was head of the Theoretical Department. I succeeded in defending my thesis; a copy of my book still exists in the archives of the academia. The original of my book is still with me. It is in Russian.

      In fact, about ten years ago Jamil called me and was interested in my book. I sent him the first page of the book and a bunch of photos of myself with Professor Agromovich and other Russian professors during my defense in the building of the Academia of Science of USSR.
      Jamil is right about one thing, I was against communist ideology and Stalin and other Soviet dictators. I knew that Russia had an evil plan for Afghanistan. This was the main reason why the Afghan communist regime put me and the other nationalist Afghans in prison and tortured us.

      I wish I had an opportunity to study in US and defend my Ph.D thesis in America. I have a lot of proof that I honestly studied and defended my thesis in Moscow. At that time I kept my hatred for communism to myself and never spoke or wrote anything about it.

      I have never worked as interpreter for US or ISAF forces. I still love Afghanistan and US. However, I am still against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Furthermore, I did not support America’s interference in Afghan elections. I believe it was a mistake and I have a lot of reasons for this, but that is a completely separate discussion.

      About my properties in California, I received inheritance from late my father and used it to purchase property that I own today.

      Mr. Jamil Hanif seems to be projecting his insecurities on me, as it is well known that Mr. Hanif plagiarized substantial portions of his PhD dissertation at Southern Illinois University.

      Dr. Qayyum Kochai”

  4. M. Jamil Hanifi says:

    And there is no book titled “political problems and my standpoint” by Abdul Qayyum Kochai (in Pashtu, Dari, or English) in the Library of Congress (OCLC) and the WorldCat.

    • nialam says:

      Dear Mr. Hanif,

      Thank you for your inquiry on the validity of the information in this article. We crossed referenced before publishing the article and found the book available in the Library of Congress online catalog in the African and Middle East reading room.

      VOA Deewa

      • Pashtun says:

        Hanifi is an American anthropologist and educator. Afghans favoring democracy went to US for education. Afghans into socialism and communism went to USSR for studies. That’s just how it was in the 1960s, 1970s.

  5. Dr. Karim Gharwal says:

    I will not give any opinion about their both cases although I know a little bit , I am saying just that our so called educated society is since 1978 fully spoiled and the tradition, culture of nation in the past is damaged hardly! Every body during the 37 years claiming emotional the suffering of nation and stressing believing in God but most of them worked and still working for their own pockets and for getting power, it does not matter how! During 37 years we are champion over the world in killing turtoring of innocent own citizen, in plundering and in occupying the properties of our nation!!!

    Afghan Nation had excellent chance to create step by step democracy base on Afghan culture and developing the country like after 2nd war got such chance Germany and Austria but unfortunately MADARI KARZAI played during his 13 years duty insidious dirty games and I am informed that 2nd world thinker is using such traitor of nation as GURU.

    I offered myself with risk to support him but I realized it that the whole rubber groups are not willing to come peace and security into country, so I am taking my request back regard my support.

    Afghanistan has at the present time two Presidents, we will see, where we will go????

  6. M. Jamil Hanifi says:

    In social space open to public view, especially in academic discourse, one must pay careful and critical attention to the accuracy, validity, truth, and truth value of social and cultural facts.

    There is no entry for the title “political problems and my stand” in OCLC—the Online Catalogue of the Library of Congress or WorldCat. And there is no entry for “Qayyum Kochai” or Abdul Qayyum Kochai (AQK), as an author, co-author or editor in OCLC (and other North American, European, or Russian library catalogues). All Library of Congress holdings are assigned an OCLC number. You will see this if you do an OCLC search. If you have an OCLC number for the entry you attribute to Mr. Kochai or if you have any other verifiable evidence about this title in the Library of Congress or any other library, please copy and paste it on this blog.

    Also, please note, all photographs (except the one titled “kochai-kaka”) embedded in your essay are taken at AQK’s residence somewhere outside Afghanistan but not in “Little Kabul” as you imply. The pictures that are framed and posted on the wall of Mr. Kochai’s residence are available in a promotional “selfi” video in which they are paraded with Frank Sinatr’a famous “I did it my way” song. The video is available in the following link:

    Was your interview with AQK conducted in California?
    About the rant from Mr. Abdul Qayum Kochai:

    First, let me address Mr. Kochai’s remarks regarding my dissertation. There are no secrets here; everything is available for public view. Yes, more than forty five years ago, I neglected to properly cite some of the sources I had used in my 1969 doctoral dissertation. I have formally and publicly admitted these lapses in judgment and violations of academic ethical standards to the proper authorities at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Bu this has not effected the integrity and authority of my academic credentials. These credentials, including my Ph. D. degree in anthropology from SIU-C, are intact and will remain in full force. During the 1960s the anthropology program at SIU-C did not require a dissertation defense. The major component and the core of the requirements for the Ph. D. program in anthropology at SIU-C was the written and oral “Special Examination”. I passed this examination with distinction. The external member of my special examination committee was Louis Dupree, dean of the American anthropology of Afghanistan. My doctoral dissertation is available on OCLC at the library of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

    Frankly, if Mr. Kochai had not used fictitious history about his academic credentials for constructing substantial political capital in support of his comprador nephew, the American elected so called “president” of Afghanistan, I would have not initiated and participated in this discourse. But since Mr. Kochai continues to keep open the can of worms about his delusional academic credentials, I must speak, with the force of evidence, to Mr. Kochai’s invention of the past. I will repeat and elaborate on what I had shared with AQK ten years ago (especially my emails dated January 5, 2004 and January 6, 2004) and add additional evidence that has come to my attention since we last communicated.

    Yes, during January 2004 Abdul Qayum Kochai (AQK) did send me a copy of the cover page (in Russian) of his alleged dissertation (which he calls “book”), a copy of a document he refers to as his “Ph. D. diplom”, and photocopies of three photographs in which he is standing with some other men.

    My response to Mr. Kochai will be informed by what I have written to him during 2004 and by some of his written communication during the 1990s with an individual who was interested in the history of Central and South Asia. During 2006 I received the following documents from this individual: this person’s typed letters to AQK and AQK’s typed and handwritten responses (in English); a one page resume’ of “Qayum Abdul Kochai” (in English) ; and the following texts in typed Russian script claimed by AQK to be part of his “Ph. D. thesis”: a copy of the cover page of AQK’s dissertation (which I had seen earlier), a page titled “contents”, a 22 page “preface” (marked 1-22), and a 19 page “bibliography” (marked 262-280).

    The Russian title on the cover page provided by AQK I translate as “the history of relations between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, 1946-1969”. In his response to my comment on this blog Mr. Kochai claims to have studied in Moscow “under the guidance of Professor Agromovich who founded the Institute of Spectroscopy of the Russian Academy of Science and was head of the Theoretical Department”. Spectroscopy is a branch of physics; it is the study of optical processes, e. g. how sunrays fragment into the colors of a rainbow! A quick google search for “Professor Agromovich”, “Spectroscopy” and the USSR “Theoretical Institute for Spectroscopy” yields the following results:

    “Vladimir Agranovich graduated the Physics Department of Kiev State University (1951). He received PhD in Kiev (1955), degree of Doctor of Science in 1961 from Institute of Chemical Physics( Moscow) and in 1963 he received the Professor Diploma from Commission of Government. Between 1956 and 1969 he was Head of Theoretical Laboratory of Physical-Energetical Institute in Obninsk and in 1969 he joined the newly founded Institute of Spectroscopy of the Russian Academy of Science as Head of the Theoretical Department. He published about 400 papers, three books and many invited chapters in contributed volumes (over 11000 citations”.

    “RICHARDSON, Texas – The NanoTech Institute of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has announced the appointment of the world-renowned theoretical physicist Vladimir Agranovich to its team. Professor Agranovich, who is currently the head of the theoretical department at the Institute of Spectroscopy at the Russian Academy of Science, as well as a professor of physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Moscow, has become the first “Pioneer of Nano-Science”. The purpose of this newly created position is to bring science and technology pioneers from around the world to UTD for extended sabbaticals”.

    I wonder whether Professor Vladimir Agramovich remembers his former Kabuli student. Perhaps spectroscopy is what AQK has studied in the USSR not the history of Afghan-Soviet relations!

    But on the cover page of the alleged thesis of AQK (which he has shared with us) R. T. Akhramovich is listed as the “scientific guide” of the thesis. R. T. Akhramovich was a prominent Soviet historian specializing in the political history of Afghanistan. He had nothing to do with physics or the “Institute of Spectroscopy at the Russian Academy of Science”. What does one make out of these bizarre tactics by AQK in order to bestow on himself something that exists only in his mind but nowhere else. This cannot be a mere technical error. I am not a psychologist. But a tactic called “smoke and mirrors” (the equivalent of madari [Farsi, contortionist]) and the verb dissimulation keep popping up in my head. As we will see below my suspicions and skepticism about the “thesis” and “Ph. D.” of AQK become increasingly reinforced and justified.

    I am familiar with four books by R. T. Akhramovich: “Afghanistan after the second World War”, 1961 (in Russian); “Afghanistan in 1961-1966: Historical context of political reform”, 1967 (in Russian); “Outline history of Afghanistan after the Second World War”, 1966 (in Russian and English); and “The State System of Afghanistan”, 1958 (in Russian and English).

    My competence in Russian is elementary. But from what I can discern, there is a stark resemblance between AQK’s alleged thesis title, contents, preface, and bibliography and the titles, table of content, texts, and bibliographies of R. T. Akhramovich’s books and other Russian and English language books and articles dealing with the political history of Afghan-Soviet relations (especially, A. Kh. Babakhodzhaev, “Outline of the history of Soviet-Afghan relations” [1979], Uzbek-SSR Academy of Sciences). But the closest and most striking, and almost identical parallel, in form and content, can be seen between the texts provided by AQK and the following Russian language books by the Soviet scholar L. B. Teplinski: “Soviet-Afghan Relations, 1919-1960” (1961) and “50 years of Soviet-Afghan Relations, 1919-1969” (1971). Two other titles by L. B. Teplinski re-print and add to the contents of these two books: “USSR and Afghanistan, 1919-1981” (1982) and “Soviet-Afghan Relations, 1919-1987 (1988). Teplinski’s 1971 tom essentially reproduces his 1961 book and adds a chapter for the additional decade. Likewise, Teplinski’s 1982 volume reproduces his 1971 book and adds a chapter for the succeeding decade; and Teplinski’s 1988 title essentially reproduces his 1982 edition and adds a chapter for the following decade. All four titles by L. B. Teplinski were published by the USSR Academy of Sciences.

    In his handwritten correspondence AQK writes the title of his thesis as “History of Afghan and Soviet Relations since 1918 until 1970” virtually simulating the date (1919-1969) in the title of Teplinski’s 1971 book. “1918 until 1970” is a match for Teplinski’s historical period “1919-1969”. This may be a Freudian slip. But it is more than a mere slip. AQK’s “1946-1969” period for Afghan-Soviet relations is covered in chapters 5 and 6 of Teplinski’s 1961 and 1971 books respectively and in chapter 7 of his 1988 book.

    I am quite familiar with the style and syntactic mode of AQK’s handwritings in English, Farsi and Pashtu. The preface and bibliography provided by AQK for his alleged thesis include several long and short instances of handwritten cursive Farsi and Pashtu script (4 instances in the preface, 3 instances in the bibliography) and one instance of handwritten English script in the preface. These handwritten scripts glaringly differ, in style, diction, and especially syntactic form, from the extensive cursive handwritings of AQK to which I have direct access. The handwritten Farsi, Pashtu, and English cursive writings in the preface and bibliography of the alleged “thesis” of AQK are the product of a mind and a hand other than those attached to Mr. Kochai’s body.

    AQK is cleverly using “book” and “thesis” interchangeably as though he has a book and a thesis somewhere on a shelf in the USSR or Russia. In either form, there is nothing under the name “Abdul Qayum Kochai” in the libraries or the archives of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences (USSR-AS) or in the Russian Academy of Sciences (R-AS).

    During my first two visits (1977 and 1978) to the USSR (as a participant in the exchange program between the USA National Academy of Science and the USSR-AS) no one in the Soviet Academy in Moscow (and at the Takik-SSR and Uzbek-SSR Academies of Science) had heard of or remembered anyone by the name Abdul Qayum Kochai from Afghanistan studying in the USSR. During 1981 when I was preparing my HRAF bibliography of Afghanistan, I wrote the USSR-AS and Moscow University about AQK’s studies, theses, and diplomas so that I could include it in the bibliography. I received no response. Thus, there is no entry in my 1982 HRAF “Annotated Bibliography of Afghanistan” under the name of Abdul Qayum Kochai. Nor is there any reference to Abdul Qayum Kochai as an author (co-author or editor) in several other bibliographic sources of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. These sources include the comprehensive 1983 “Bibliography of Afghanistan” by K. McLachlan & W. Wittaker, and (starting in 1973), the bibliographic entries in the quarterly Afghanistan Forum, Newsletter of the Afghanistan Council, Asia Society. The current comprehensive online “WorldCat” list of dissertations about Afghanistan produced by The Afghan Analyst (headquartered in Kabul) does not have an entry for Abdul Qayum Kochai. Nor is there any reference to Abdul Qayum Kochai (as author), or the title he alleges for a thesis authored by him, in the 1973-1993 multi-volume series of “Doctoral Dissertations on Asia” by Frank Joseph Shulman published by the Association of Asian Studies. This titles includes all dissertations about Afghanistan written in the USSR.

    During 1982 and 1988 I revisited Moscow in the context of the USA-USSR inter-academy exchange program. Again, the name “Abdul Qayum Kochai did not ring a bell at the USSR-AS; no one at the USSR Academy of Sciences or Moscow University recognized Abdul Qayum Kochai or any writings authored by him. The records in the bureaucracies of Soviet and Russian academies of science and the Moscow University have no record regarding a thesis or diploma related to Abdul Qayum Kochai. For AQK to anchor the veracity of his claim for holding a Ph. D. from the USSR Academy of Sciences in “photos of myself….in the building of the Academia of science of USSR” is both puzzling, mysterious and sad. The photos AQK is referring to are included in the album posted on the wall of his house and the selfi video mentioned above. I have a diploma because I was there standing at a podium next to these individuals!! This is a blatant defiance and side-stepping of historical facts in order to satisfy a complex of cravings for an achievement that does not exist. A modicum of firmly installed familiarity with and understanding of a Weberian theory of “bureaucracy” might help.

    As mentioned above, Abdul Qayum Kochai has provided me with a photocopy of a certificate which he claims to be his “Doctor of Philosophy” diploma. The certificate is in the English language! The official language of the USSR-AS was Russian! The constructs “Ph. D.” and “Doctor of Philosophy” were and are out of place in the official lexicon of the USSR-AS and the R-AS. During 2004 I shared a copy of the photocopy of AQK’s alleged diploma with a distinguished, renowned and widely published Russian scholar of Central Asia who holds a doctorate from the Institute of Oriental Studies, USSR-Academy of Science who currently lives in the United States as a distinguished professor at a prestigious university. In answer to my questions, here is this distinguished scholar’s reply to my questions about AQK’s so called “Ph. D.” diploma: “The attached copy of a diploma looks extremely strange. I received my degree of the ‘Candidate of Historical Sciences’ from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1961…..I have never heard of and seen a diploma written not in Russian. I have a copy of my diploma with me, and it has nothing in common with the document a copy of which you have sent, it simply looks fishy….you can certainly rely on my information. The language of the diploma was in Russian, irrespective of the language of the dissertation….I can read the first two words on the seal, but this is not the seal of the institute (which should be on the diploma). A ‘candidat’ could take his thesis out of the USSR not officially—only by smuggling it. Duplicating theses was not usually practiced” (personal communication, January 21, 2004).

    There is no record of a doctorate diploma bestowed on Abdul Qayum Kochai by the USSR Academy of Sciences. Over the past 45 years AQK has converted a fictitious past into large chunks of personal and political capital. Obviously AQK is free to imagine and delude about being a “doctor” with a “Ph. D”. But he cannot create facts and empirical grounds for these achieved statuses. It is about time for AQK to step up to the mirror of truth and accept the realities of social life. You can never hide from the rays of truth.

    On some related matters with ethical and moral implication deal with AQK mythical history:

    In the documents that were sent to me by AQK’s correspondent, AQK claims to have been born in “Kabul”. In the entry for Abdul Qayyum Kochai in Ludwig Adamec’s 1987 “A biographical dictionary of contemporary Afghanistan” AQK’s birth place is given as “Surkhab, Logar”. In his handwritten letter AQK titles his MA thesis (at Moscow University) as “Russian Modern Language and literature of the 19th century”. In his typed resume this title reads “Russian Language and Literature of the 19th Century”. AQK graduated in 1955 from the Habibiya High School in Kabul. From fourth grade on American English was taught in this HS. Teachers of English and several other subjects were Americans. I have clear memory of AQK speaking fluent American English during 1955 when he was in the 12th grade of Habibiya HS. Now, how does a young Kabuli who is fluent in American English switch to learning Russian, and not ordinary, present day Russian, but “19th century” Russian literature? Perhaps AQK can shed light on how and why he got interested in 19th century Russian literature. What personal, academic, political and ideological forces converged in the life of AQK to direct him to the study “Literature of the “19th Century” Russian? And how was this academic specialty in the life of a Kabuli (constructed in godless USSR) bridged with writing a “Ph. D.” thesis about the “History of Afghan-Soviet Relations, 1946-1969 (or is it 1918-1969)? What incentivized AQK to move from a study in humanties—19th century Russian literature—to engaging the politics of Afghan-Soviet relations? When and why did AQK move from admiration for Russian culture and convivial relations (at least in public) with communist officials and Russian communism to the hatred of communism, the USSR and what the latter stood for? Could this switch be related to AQK’s frustrations and inability to earn legitimate academic credentials in the USSR—powerful tools (“Dr. Saheb”, “Dr. Kochai”) for political use in Afghanistan and elsewhere?

    AQK claims that he went to the USSR under an Afghan government scholarship. Studying in USSR by Afghan students (and other nationalities) was sponsored and subsidized by the government of the USSR not by the Kabul government. If AQK did not wish to go to godless communist CCCP, no agency, including the Kabul government, could force him to do so.

    In his resume written during the early 1990s, AQK does not list his “Doctor of Philosophy” from the USSR. He writes to his correspondent: “I don’t mention about my Ph. D. because they would say that I am overqualified”. In this resume he claims an “A. A. degree” in “Supervision and Business Management” from Ohlone College, Fremont, CA. He also claims experience as an interpreter for Farsi, Pashtu and Russian and service as an instructor at the US Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. In one of his letters AQK writes “my MA and BA thesis were confiscated by the communist government in Afghanistan…I was lucky that I had given all my diplomas and ph. D. thesis to a relative to keep them for me. Still I have all of them with me”. About his aspirations for a career, AQK writes “if I could find a job to work with some companies or agencies who have business with Russian or with the new independent states in Central Asia I would be glad to cooperate with them”. Again, “smoke and mirrors” come to mind.

    Academic mysteries and imaginings are not uncommon in AQK’s patrilineage. One of his nephews, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (aka “Ashraf Ghani”, “Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai”), the current American “elected” president of Afghanistan, also has inherited a problematic academic history. During the early 1990s Ghani had declared in one of his published articles that his 1984 doctoral thesis was being published as a book by Columbia University Press. A few years later Ghani told me that his (AUB educated) Lebanese wife had decided to withdraw the thesis of her husband from publication. To this day, Ashraf Ghani’s thesis remains unpublished. A close reading of this thesis and its comparison with Ghani’s 1977 MA thesis at the American University of Beirut provides clues for Mrs. Ghani’s decision. Also, the late Ahmad Shah Ghani, the older brother of Ashraf Ghani, claimed doctoral credentials from France. There is no record in French institutions of higher education and libraries for this claim.

    I am happy to learn about the material comfort AQK is enjoying through the ownership of property in the USA. I am however puzzled by the source of the wealth which has mediated such material level og comfort. From what I can recall, other than AQK’s oldest full brother, Shah Pesand, who used to own a fleet of trucks, his other male older siblings, Mohammad Akmal Ghani and the late Abdul Hadi, lived austere lives in Virginia and France (or Italy) respectively. AQK’s half-sibling Mohammad Nabi (AQK father’s oldest son) and his children lived in dire poverty. I wonder if AQK has informed the American authorities about the large amount of capital he brought with him as a “refugee” when he arrived in the USA during 1982 or when and how this big chunk of capital was transferred to him from Afghanistan or another country. Are there advantages in being the uncle of a person who has been on intimate terms with the highest location of power in the military command structure of the American occupation machinery in Afghanistan over the past fourteen years and who is currently serving the American imperial stretch as the “president” of Afghanistan?

    If AQK does “not support America’s interference in Afghan elections”, then why on earth was he campaigning vigorously for his comprador nephew whose every piece of political identity is constructed, controlled and underwritten by imperial America? Who subsidized AQK’s extensive presence and travels in Afghanistan campaigning for this mercurial comprador?

    I hope a way can be found for AQK to lessen the burden of having shouldered a “Doctor of Philosophy” that does not exist. I cordially invite AQK to come out of the closet and accept the realities of his past. One way of accomplishing this is to produce an honest autobiography or biography. I will be happy to lend technical assistance to the production and circulation of such a confessional project. But if AQK really believes that the documents he has circulated are indeed part of his doctoral “thesis” he should send a copy of the complete “thesis” (cover page, table of contents and all 280 pages of text) to the Library of Congress and a major research library near where he lives to be catalogued and made available to public view. There are many, including this writer, who would welcome seeing this mysterious and contentious document.

    Finally, many of us are bored with hearing the voices in the Afghan diaspora in the West vending false and delusional claims about having been jailed and tortured by the evil infidel communists of Afghanistan causing them to become “refugees” so they can imagine cozying up to mommy USA and other Western charities. These fictitious claims have enabled many, including AQK, to stuff themselves with what America is really all about—plentiful cheap meat, gas, cushy couches, and big flat-screen tvs. However, they forget that those who rule America will never fully trust them no matter how low they bow. My 2000 chapter in “Rethinking Refuge and Displacement”, edited by E. M. Godziak and D. J. Shandy (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, pp. 291-321) addresses the post-1978 migration of Kabulis to Europe and USA. Currently there are two doctoral research projects under way at prominent North American universities to systematically engage the historical and political context of recent migrations from Afghanistan and “refugee” narratives circulating in the Afghan diaspora in Euro-America.

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