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Politics Thrives on Kabul Campus

AFGHAN INTELLECTUALS: A VANISHING BREED

(Page 2 of 2)



In the past two months, 15 top academics at the university secretly slipped away from Kabul to resurface in Pakistan. The exodus was apparently spawned less by political reasons than by the tough conditions in the Afghan capital and worries that the lecturers, who have a partial exemption from military duty, might be pressed into Army service.

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``The situation was very tense in Kabul. It was no longer tolerable,'' says Hamidullah Amin, a British-trained professor and former dean of humanities. He left his family behind and took a grueling, circuitous route to avoid fighting and reach Peshawar.

However, Kabul intellectuals say that opting for exile in Pakistan is also an uncertain choice. Many are weary of the war and the police state. But they say they also are uneasy about powerful mujahideen fundamentalists who want to impose their own brand of extremism on Afghanistan.

Kabul University intellectuals head or work closely with the Afghan political parties in Peshawar. But others have gone overseas after being harassed by fundamentalists or lured by opportunities in the West.

Last year, Professor Sayyed Majrooh, director of the Afghan Information Center in Peshawar and a political moderate, was assassinated. Observers blamed the murder on extremist groups.

The pro-Moscow regime erred by trying to impose a foreign ideology on a conservative, hostile population, observers say. But some intellectuals warn that reshaping Afghan society according to the dictates of conservative Muslim leaders is equally foolish.

`SOME of the intellectuals scattered around the world would be willing to come back. But the question is to what kind of homeland should they return?'' says an Afghan intellectual who has been in Peshawar since 1980. ``Afghans are Muslims. No one should doubt that. But in Afghan society, it is very hard to impose a dictatorship, no matter what kind it is.''

Like President Najibullah, the regime-dominated administration at the university is holding out offers of reconciliation to intellectuals in exile.

The institution continues to send large numbers of lecturers to the Soviet Union and other socialist countries for special courses. But the Soviet faculty advisers are gone, and the Soviet curriculum, including Marxist history and economics, disappeared with the troops. University officials claim that promotions are now free from political interference and say they will step aside for a new administration chosen in elections.

``We are saying, `Come and join new elections,'''says Dr. Homayun, who is a member of the ruling party. ``But we will not tolerate our opponents and their supporters imposing something on us in advance.''

However, reflecting the mujahideen refusal to deal with the Najibullah government, academics in exile say they will not return as long as the present university hierarchy remains in power. And there are growing worries that many intellectuals, now resettled in the West, will not return at all.

``In the last 10 years, we've lost everything in education,'' says Dr. Azimi, the former university president. ``It will be extremely difficult to rebuild soon. It's not like construction of a building or a road. Those you can rebuild easily. But education takes time.''