The Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson on Monday said the Afghan government’s peace offer to the Taliban was an opportunity for the group to end the violence and join the peace process.
Nicholson made the remarks at Resolute Support headquarters during a ceremony to honor the late Nancy Dupree, a well-known American historian and archaeologist who died last year in Kabul.
A small garden at RS headquarters was named after Dupree.
Speaking during the ceremony, Nicholson said: “As you all know spontaneous social gatherings in support of the peace process are springing up around the entire country, up to 20 provinces now. And this is all following the offer by his excellency President (Ashraf) Ghani to the Taliban that he made at the Kabul peace process conference.
“We hope that the Taliban, as the Afghan people, want peace and now is the best opportunity to end this war. So, in closing I want to remind all of our Afghan friends here today and all Afghans that we are with you and we will stay with you to help deliver the peace and stability that this country deserves after so many years of hardship,” said Nicholson.
Abdul Wahid Wafa, director of Afghanistan Information Center at Kabul University, which was founded by Dupree, said Dupree had left a number of guide books for Afghans, which are goodsources of information.
“She was a great guide for a lot of others who wanted to learn about Afghanistan. And her guide books are still good references for all of us. One of her gifts and her legacy is this Afghanistan Center. This center has got over 150,000 documents about the country,” said Wafa.
Nicholson’s wife, Norine MacDonald, also spoke at the event, and said Dupree had been an inspiration to everyone who met her.
“Nancy was such a unique person and a real inspiration to everyone who met her. I know her dear friends and colleagues felt the loss very deeply. And we hope the knowledge that we are working to keep her memory alive (helps),” said MacDonald.
Who was Dupree
Born in 1927 in India to American parents, Dupree first came to Afghanistan in 1962 as a diplomat’s wife. Several year later she met Louis Dupree, a renowned archaeologist and scholar of Afghan culture and history.
The two reportedly fell in love and after divorcing her husband she married Dupree.
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Dupree was forced to leave the country, but her husband stayed behind.
Rather than return to the United States, she moved to a refugee camp in Peshawar in Pakistan to help Afghan refugees. Her husband joined her a while later after being arrested on suspicion of being a CIA spy. He died in 1989.
During her time in Peshawar, Dupree realized the need to preserve unique documents about Afghanistan and to prevent them from being destroyed. In order to do this, she formed the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) and began to collect government and non-government documents relating to Afghanistan’s history and culture.
In interviews, Dupree said looting started after the Soviet invasion and that many priceless books were sold to be used for fuel. A large number of books were also sold by weight to be used to wrap food, she said.
In 2001 when coalition forces overthrew the Taliban government, Dupree chose to stay on in Peshawar as she was concerned about the safety of the document collection.
But in 2005, Dupree moved back to Kabul and worked with the Afghan government to establish a home for the collection of documents that at the time numbered over 7,000 items.
The collection was eventually moved to its own building at Kabul University where today it is known as the Afghan Collection.
In 2007 Dupree established the Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation which promotes research and raises awareness of the history and culture of Afghanistan. The foundation also ensures the safety of the document collection – which will in turn ensure the Dupree’s legacy lives on.