Context & Culture

Prof. Rasul Amin passed away


AAN has just learned of the passing away of leading Afghan scholar and politician Professor Rasul Amin during a stay in Australia on 31 October at the age of 72

Born on 10 May 1939 at Watapur in Kunar province, Rasul Amin was son of a prominent khan of the Safi tribe. His mother was from Chitral. His father participated in the Safi uprising in 1947 and was deported to Herat and Mazar-e Sharif.

Rasul Amin got his primary education from Kabul and joined the Islamia College Peshawar in 1956 where he also finished his B.A. In Peshawar, he was elected General-Secretary of the Khyber Union, a students’ union, in 1962, a unique, unprecedented honour for an Afghan student. In 1963, he was voted the best debater at college. Amin completed his M.A. in political science at Peshawar University in 1966 and then pursued an illustrious career in teaching at Kabul University where he rose to the post of chairman of department of philosophy and social sciences in May 1976. He also was a member of the Pashto Tolena (Pashto Society), a predecessor of the Afghan Academy of Sciences.

His academic career was interrupted in 1979 when he had to take refuge in Pakistan. Many of his close relatives were Khalqi leftists and he also is said to have had leftist sympathies but all this changed when he was placed under arrest by the Hafeezullah Amin regime in May 1979 for a short time. He crossed into Pakistan via a remote mountain pass on foot on 4th January 1980 along with his family members.

In Peshawar, he joined Pir Gailani’s National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA) and became the head of the party’s refugee committee. In the 1990s, he worked with the Rome Group that was established by the former King, Muhammad Zaher Shah. He initially worked with the renowned Afghan intellectual Professor Seyyed Bahauddin Majrooh at the Afghanistan Information Centre (AIC). The AIC became a respected mouthpiece of liberal Afghan intellectuals linked to the resistance but drew the wrath of the fundamentalist factions. Prof. Majrooh was assassinated in Peshawar in 1988 after the AIC had published the results of a poll among Afghan refugees that showed that the former King was the most popular Afghan politician, way ahead of the mujahedin leaders.

On 21 March 1985, Amin founded the Writers Union of Free Afghanistan (WUFA) which, as the AIC, was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany), USIS, the Asia Foundation (USA), and the Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Denmark). Like the AIC, it became a renowned institution that – amongst other activities – collected documents on the Afghan resistance, one of the few to do so.

After the fall of the Taleban regime, Prof. Amin returned to Afghanistan. At the Bonn conference, he was appointed Minister of Education in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan, representing the Rome Group. When the new school year was opened in March 2002, he said: We have decided to project a new image of ourselves. We have to forget the past if we want to rebuild this country.’

In 2002, he resigned his post as minister and decided to devote himself fully to the intellectual regeneration of Afghanistan and to Afghan-Pak friendship. The 2004 article ‘Resolving the Afghan-Pakistan Border Question’ is only one in a long list of his writings.

Prof. Amin established the Afghanistan Study Centre (ASC) in Kabul as the successor of WUFA. The founder also became its director and the editor of the Journal of Afghanistan Studies quarterly.

sources: a short biography posted by his son A. Amin, editor of the ‘Journal of Afghanistan Studies’; additional information: Ludwig W. Adamec, A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Afghanistan; AAN

AAN admired Professor Rasul Amin’s candour and political acumen, his devotion to his country, to collecting documents of its recent history and to research as well as his unforgettable wit. Afghanistan shall miss a selfless patriot and we will miss a respected ustad.

Thomas Ruttig

Oranienburg (Germany), 6 November 2009

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Thematic Category: Context & Culture, Political Landscape