Bandar Seri Begawan - The US Embassy in the Sultanate recently welcomed its new Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Jeffrey Jones Hawkins Jr., who previously served in Kabul, Afghanistan as Political and Economic Counselor.
A native of California, Hawkins
studied BA in History at the University of California, Berkeley
in 1988 and MA in International Relations in 1990 at the University of South California.
tenure in Afghanistan, he
was fortunate enough to witness some groundbreaking events that lead to Afghanistan's recovery process, following the downfall of the Taleban regime. In an interview with the Bulletin yesterday, Hawkins, who served at the US Department of Commerce as Presidential Management Intern in 1990, explained the government's reformation activities that are taking place in Kabul, especially the current situation leading up to the presidential election on October 9. He
was in Abidjan as Political Officer/General Services Officer in 1994, in Chennai as Deputy Consular Section Chief in 1996, in Islamabad as Political Officer in 1999, at the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs as Desk Officer and later Acting Deputy Director in 2002 and 2003 before his
tenure in Kabul.
With the upcoming election, several significant developments in the reformation of the Afghan government are evident, particularly the participation of the female population in the election - 40 per cent of over 10 million registered voters - surpassing the expected number of voters.
The improvement in the reconstruction of the Afghan self-governing system and women's involvement with the participation of a female presidential candidate who is running alongside President Karzai has come as a major boost.
said, is because the Afghans are hungry for a representative government.
"They have been through decades of civil war... it has been disastrous in its history and now they are finally coming back," he
admired the efforts made by the Afghan government towards building a self-governing system, as he
had the opportunity to witness how it pieced together a road map, and most importantly, the drafting of its constitution.
Touching on the reconstruction effort, which to date amounted to US$4.5 billion; Hawkins
said the pledged aid "has made a huge difference", with the financial assistance used for a series of road building projects, the biggest from Kabul to Kandahar. He
said the money has also been allocated to reconstruction projects in rural areas including building new schools and hospitals with the help of provincial reconstruction teams, which have been brought in to identify the needs of the locals.
On Afghanistan's self-governing system, Hawkins
said, "The process brought together influential avenues that were not associated with the Taleban.
It was sort of democratic in an Afghan way because they have a tribal structure... they tend to do things in a consistent way but there were certainly no elections." He
added that when the Taleban took power in the 90s, it was a disastrous situation as the people were hungry for stability to the point they were willing to make big compromises.
continued, were the hungriest for security, followed by economic development.