Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad leaving his post in Washington

The war in Afghanistan began on Oct. 7, 2001, as the U.S. military launched an operation in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. The war continues today.
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 9:29 PM

After serving as Afghanistan's top diplomat in Washington for seven years, Ambassador Said T. Jawad said Tuesday that his government has ordered him to vacate his post in September.

Jawad, a dapper and eloquent advocate for his war-torn nation, has been the subject of what he called a "smear campaign" in Afghanistan during the past few weeks. Several Afghan Web sites published photographs that purported to show people consuming alcohol and women dancing in sleeveless dresses at an embassy party to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The images were subsequently printed by a few Kabul newspapers. Their release promptly caused a scandal in Afghanistan - where mixed-sex dancing is highly unusual and where Muslims are forbidden to consume alcohol. Some members of parliament called on President Hamid Karzai to fire Jawad.

Embassy officials insisted that there was no Ramadan party and that Jawad was on a trip to South America when the bash is alleged to have occurred. They said the pictures appear to have been taken at an Afghan independence day party a year ago. In a statement, the embassy called the assertions that the photos were taken at a Ramadan party "slanderous and libelous false accusations."

Karzai's government did not immediately provide a reason for Jawad's removal. A successor has not been named.

In an interview, Jawad said the party photos "had nothing to do with" the end of his ambassadorship.

"These things happen in Afghanistan," he said.

"Everything has a beginning and an end, and I look forward to continuing to serve my country," he added.

Jawad said he was asked to return to Kabul to work in the Foreign Ministry, but he said he has not decided what he will do. He said he and his family plan to stay in the Washington area - which is where they lived before the Taliban was toppled in 2001 - as they work out transition plans.

Jawad had served as an adviser to Karzai before the Afghan leader asked him to return to Washington as ambassador in 2003. Although his dismissal was conveyed by his superiors at the Foreign Ministry, such decisions are typically made with Karzai's approval.

Karzai has made a series of hasty firings in the past few months. Last week, he dismissed a deputy attorney general who had been involved in corruption investigations of government officials. In June, Karzai abruptly fired Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh.

In a farewell e-mail message Tuesday, Jawad called his tenure as ambassador "a most rewarding experience."

"We secured the generous financial and moral support of the private sector, civil society, foundations, and universities, to address our national priorities, build human capital and promote investment in Afghanistan," he wrote. "Our hopes are still high and I am committed to continuing to contribute to Afghanistan's future in my private capacity."

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