Study in Himachal University if you want to become president!


These are words Afghan President Hamid Karzai mentioned in light hearted sense during his trip to Himachal University. Nostalgic about his years in Shimla’s hilly narrow bylanes, Karzai remembered the beautiful weather of Shimla and down memory lanes spoke about his stay here on the Queen of Hills. He met students at the Univerisity and signed autographs.


Join the Conversation


  1. says: TOI article
    SHIMLA: In 1979, a 22-year-old Afghan often walked alone on the streets of Shimla, his eyes on the snowy Himachal slopes, but thoughts lingering on the rugged war-scarred mountains beyond the Khyber Pass. He rarely spoke to anyone, wary that he would expose his scant grasp over English or Hindi.

    Twenty-seven years later, the same man walked into Shimla, but on a red carpet. For time and circumstances had catapulted this shy youth into the presidential office of a radically changing Afghanistan.

    On Wednesday, Hamid Karzai, who as a post-graduate student in Himachal Pradesh University studied political science, visited his alma mater to be feted as one of the school\’s most successful alumnus. \”It used to take me 60 minutes of lonely walking to reach SDB College for my classes from Maharani Amrit Kaur Bhavan, which was utilised by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as a guest house,\” Karzai said after receiving a rapturous welcome at the HPU auditorium from students, professors, alumni and guests.

    If Karzai today is a man who can hold his own not only in the choppy politics of Kabul but hold the world\’s attention from the lecterns at the United Nations and in Washington, he has only Shimla to thank for.

    And this is what he said in impeccable English: \”I was worried in the first couple of months of my studies here. English was the problem. I used an English-Persian dictionary to learn English. But, my then principal, a caring gentleman, called me to his room and advised me to throw the dictionary out of the window from my room in the AIIMS guest house attic.\”

    Was that meant to be the end of the road for Karzai\’s English? No, he said. \”I adhered to the advice and bought an English-English dictionary as suggested. After three months, when I visited my cousin in Delhi, my other Afghan friends complimented me on the good English I was speaking. Unknowingly, I had picked up the language,\” he said, drawing peals of laughter from the audience.

    Karzai had initially planned to study in Delhi, where many of his Afghan friends were enrolled. But, for the man from the arid Pashtun mountains, a chance drizzle, just before he reached Shimla on a vacation with his cousin, changed his mind.

    \”As we got out of the train and started walking to the university, the rain had stopped and the water drops that had gathered on the treetops fell on me delicately as we walked. Then and there, I decided not to go back to Delhi,\” he said. \”I got admitted in the university here.\”

    Karzai, however, refused to say whether the political science he had learnt in the classrooms in Shimla was being put to use. \”I\’m not shrewd. I\’m not a politician. It is a difficult job and I\’m not clever enough to handle it. I never had skills to start a political party in Afghanistan,\” said the 49-year-old president, who won an election with 55% popular vote two years ago, displaying his characteristic humility.

    Karzai, who left Shimla in 1983 to join the mujahideen forces fighting Soviet occupation, attentively heard students perform Saraswati Vandana and acknowledged it saying: \”Moral values of yesterday will give the country admiration tomorrow.\”

    Wearing the traditional Afghan suit and draped in a greenish-blue shawl and the hallmark karakul cap, Karzai greeted Hizaibullah, the only foreign student of HPU and an Afghan by coincidence, before occupying his chair on the dais.

  2. says: Prem

    You are right Hamid! I am a Canadian resident and also know about Himachal. I like to say that if there is any place on the earth that attracts you again and again to visit or stay long is Himachal. Natural beauty, fauna and flora make your eyes open wide and deep to see and have a feel of creation of supernatural powers. A very humble acceptance of that enters in, transform ideas and help making ones life simple. At the same time sincerity of its people fully loaded with high social, cultural and spiritual values make you get absorbed in to. I appreciate its people who maintain its traditions and high values in the fast changing world and wish for their keeping it up.

Leave a comment
Leave a Reply to TOI articleCancel comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.