By Nick Butler

Fahim Hashimy has been elected the new President of the National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan ©A-NOCNewly elected Afghanistan National Olympic Committee (A-NOC) President Fahim Hashimy wants to produce a "world class" organisation which is a symbol of the positive change taking place in his country.

In an election during an Extraordinary Session in Kabul in which representatives from 27 of the 29 eligible national federations took part, Hashimy, a businessman with interests in aviation, mining and construction who also owns the fastest-growing television channel in the country, 1TV, was elected to serve a four-year term.

The 33-year-old has served as acting vice-president for the last month, and replaced Mohammad Zaher Aghbar, who stood down four months ago after heading a body which had less autonomy and was under the auspices of the National Sport Directorate.

Speaking to insidethegames after the vote he described "an important day in the history of sport in Afghanistan" in which, for the first time, the NOC has embraced democracy and will serve independently from the Sport Directorate for the first time. 

The historic election result being announced in Kabul ©A-NOCThe historic election result being announced in Kabul ©A-NOC

Afghanistan has competed in 13 Summer Olympics since Berlin 1936, including Moscow 1980, where much of the rest of the world chose to boycott in response to the Soviet invasion of the central Asian country shortly beforehand.

In 1999, Afghanistan was banned from the Olympics due to its discrimination against women under Taliban rule as well as its prohibition of sports of any kind, and did not compete at Sydney 2000 as a result.

The country was re-instated in 2002 following the western invasion which overthrew the Taliban and duly sent five representatives to Athens 2004, including their first two female Olympians in Robina Muqim Yaar and Friba Razayee.

At Beijing 2008, taekwondo athlete Rohullah Nikpai earned a first medal for the country with under 58kg bronze and four years later he graduated to the 68kg division and duly earned a second medal.

Just a week after the long awaited Presidential election in the country in which a higher than anticipated total of nearly seven million citizens voted, Hashimy claimed the changes in A-NOC is a further illustration of the general reforming process the country is enjoying. 

In a vain which is especially poignant considering the partnership signed between the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations this week, he also believes sport can play a crucial role in uniting the country. 

"We have an important part in the community in promoting peace and health," he told insidethegames. 

"When we enjoyed success in cricket, we were absolutely patriotic for the first time.

"It was the first time I had seen everyone on the streets dancing, no one cared about tribes and the team were made up of people from all regions and backgrounds, and that is what sport can do. 

"We are very optimistic about the future, we have mineral wealth and the potential to grow as a country, and sport can be a part of that."

It is hoped more Afghan athletes will follow in the footsteps of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 bronze medal winner Rohullah Nikpai ©Getty ImagesIt is hoped more Afghan athletes will follow in the footsteps of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 bronze medal winner Rohullah Nikpai ©Getty Images

Hashimy pledged that A-NOC will be focusing on strong performances at events including the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing and the Asian Games in Incheon, although he admitted that they have a longer term focus because it will be difficult to make huge improvements in such a short time.

As well as increasing democracy and introducing charters and statutes, he also described aims to secure private investment as well as to increase female participation in sport.

This latter part is necessary because it remains the view of some that women should not participate in sport, and in 2008 1,500 metres runner Mehboba Ahdyar received death threats due to her intended participation in the Games.

"It is such a shame that the rest of the country started to change 14 years ago, but we are only starting to change now," he told insidethegames. 

"We want to create a world class NOC.

"That will not happen today or tomorrow but we are very committed to that as an ultimate aim, and we want to work with the rest of the world.

"We also want to increase the participation of women in sports and show that culturally you can be a good Muslim woman but also a good athlete."

With 70 per cent of the Afghan population under 25, he added that "they are also targeting the youth because they are our wealth".

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