January 13, 2020 Print

Dr. Tom G. Palmer joins Afghan colleagues in presenting an award for promotion of human rights at the AELSO conference.

Atlas Network’s Dr. Tom Palmer spent the early part of December in Afghanistan to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO). “It had been too long since my last visit with our esteemed Afghan Partners, AELSO,” explained Dr. Palmer. “I knew that they had been doing very good work, but I admit I was amazed and impressed when I saw with my own eyes the progress they have made.” Dr. Palmer, who is also a board member for AELSO, participated in several interviews and meetings during his 4-day visit. The trip was part of a longer visit to Atlas Network partners and potential partners that included Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Two hours after arriving in Kabul on the morning of December 2, Dr. Palmer recorded a 45-minute lecture, including charts and data, on the economics of peace and prosperity on Pieshgam TV, one of the most popular television stations in Afghanistan. 

Dr. Tom G. Palmer during his talk to faculty and advanced students at Bakhtar University.

Following the tv interview, Dr. Palmer and AELSO CEO Khalid Ramizy and other AELSO staff visited Dunya University to meet with the Chancellor, Mr. Ahamad Shah Sankdel, to discuss providing educational content for their students. He gave public lectures at four universities in Kabul: Dunya University, Bakhtar University, Rana University, and University of Kabul. As Palmer concluded, “The AELSO team really makes me so proud to work with them. They’ve done an impressive job of working constructively with schools and universities, newspapers and broadcast media to promote libertarian ideas and positive policies for peace, freedom, and prosperity. They worked me rather hard on this trip, but not a quarter as hard as they have worked themselves for years.  They are true Afghan patriots.”

Dr. Tom G. Palmer & Khalid Ramizy with Mr. Ahmad Sha Sankdel during the meeting

Dr. Palmer and the AELSO team then met with political leaders and members of parliament who had fought against communism and Soviet/Russian influence and are now working for a free and open society in Afghanistan. They discussed measures to bring peace and prosperity to that war-torn nation.

Dr. Tom G. Palmer during a meeting with H.E Sayed Khalilullah Anwari and members of the Afghan Parliament.

The next day, December 3, AELSO organized a full-day “Youth Leaders Summit for the Future of Afghanistan'' with the goal of educating attendees and providing them with practical steps to make the future of Afghanistan as free and prosperous as possible. Three hundred and eighty students were joined by scholars, teachers, and policymakers at the summit, which was covered by at least 11 national and international media outlets. Dr. Palmer introduced the young leaders to the history of libertarian student activism, from the 18th century to the present-day Students For Liberty international organization. 

The audience at the Young Leaders Summit for the Future of Afghanistan before Dr. Palmer’s speech.

On December 4, Dr. Palmer visited the central offices of AELSO in Kabul to meet with staff and board members and to discuss the achievements, challenges, and new initiatives of AELSO. One of the most successful projects for AELSO has been the formation of the Silk Road Station, which is now frequented by thousands of listeners daily. Dr. Palmer was interviewed on Silk Road and explained how the free market brings peace, harmony, and prosperity. 

Dr. Tom G. Palmer discussing the positive role of free markets on Silk Road Radio.

Dr. Palmer’s visit to Afghanistan concluded with the 10th Anniversary of AELSO and International Human Rights Conference on December 5 at the Queens Palace of Babur Gardens in Kabul. Hundreds of scholars, students, activists, and policymakers came to celebrate AELSO’s anniversary, to witness the presentation of awards to human rights defenders, and hear from veterans in the freedom movement, including Dr. Palmer. 

The opening ceremony at the International Human Rights Conference and celebration of  AELSO’s tenth year of working for individual rights, free markets, toleration, the rule of law, peace, and freedom. (Dr. Palmer stands between Kabul University Chancellor Dr. Farooqi, to his left, and Professor Ramizpoor, AELSO’s founder, to his right.

Dr. Tom G. Palmer joins Afghan colleagues in presenting an award for promotion of human rights at the AELSO conference.

The conference was also a celebration of all the success that AELSO has achieved during their first decade of existence. “We were very successful in educating and promoting free society values in the last 10 years,” explained Ramizy. “Considering the security challenges, it is very difficult to work for libertarian ideas in Afghanistan, but we are committed to work harder in the upcoming decade and decades to come.”