Recapture of Kabul campus raises hopes

October 27, 1994

The campus of Kabul University, which for the past two years has been in the hands of the anti-government forces, was captured by government supporters at the end of September.

The university, which had struggled on during a decade of war between the Soviet-backed government forces and the mojahedin, was finally closed two years ago by the fighting between different Moslem groups.

This had flared up after the Soviet withdrawal. The Mazari faction, opposed to the new government, captured the university, and begun using it as a base for further fighting.

During the past two years, higher education in Afghanistan was able to continue at the Kabul Polytechnic, and also at three "mini-universities" in provincial cities. But the government was keen for the university to reopen.

In May, Gholem Nabl Nateq, the acting minister of higher and vocational education, presented the cabinet with contingency plans for its speedy reopening, either at the old site if it could be recaptured or another suitable location.

In mid-June there was a brief announcement on Afghanistan radio that teaching at Kabul university would resume on July 23.

On that date, however, the university was still in Mazari hands. Nevertheless, fund-raising efforts were begun in the United States and Germany to help finance the cost of reopening, and in September the radio station announced that government forces had completely "cleared" the campus of pro-Mazari forces.

The damage sustained during two years as a military objective is, however, considerable, and it may be some time before normal academic life can be resumed.

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