Press Release: Afghan language

Michael Everson everson at
Wed May 7 17:19:16 CEST 2003


At 18:15 +0500 2003-05-07, N. R. Liwal wrote:
>Mr.Michael Everson, have spend few days in Afghanistan to survey 
>"Computer Local Requirement for Afghanistan".

That isn't true. Roozbeh and I have been working on the survey for 
months. We went to Kabul to speak to experts and clarify a few 
outstanding issues, and to present the finished report to the UNDP 
and to the Ministry of Communication.

>The press release which he post here has some misleading 
>information, i.e. he writes:

I did not write the press release. The UNDP wrote the press release.

>"Until now, there has been virtually no way for the people of 
>Afghanistan to communicate digitally in their own tongue."
>The truth is that almost for a decade and half, myself developed 
>"Pashto/Dari Support for WordPerfect 5.1" 1992, Pashto/Dari Support 
>for Microsoft Windows 3.x, 9x, 2K and XP" and is used locally and 

It is good that you provide a third-party solution for the Windows 
platform. There were other third-party solutions as well, for fonts 
and keyboards (we know of four suppliers of keyboard layouts), but no 
uniform solution from the major manufacturers. Our survey collected 
the data needed for locale support for Afghanistan, for the first 
time, in a structured and usable way.

>Our support and Fonts are based on Microsoft and Unicode standards.

Come on, Liwal! Your fonts are non-conformant to Unicode at least as 
far as the encoding of the AFGHANI SIGN goes!

>Also we were in very close contact with Microsoft and others on the 
>subject. Although Microsoft could not implemented Pashto for some 

Whatever those reasons are, it is clear from our work that adequate 
support for the languages of Afghanistan are not very widespread.

>But Dari language (Afghani dialect of Persian) support is 
>implemented under Farsi, Since Windows 3.x, and a Keyboard download 
>is available for Farsi/Dari for Windows 2k  from Microsoft Site and 
>Farsi/Dari Keyboard is included in Windows XP.

Apparently there are some known outstanding issues regarding Persian 
support on the Windows platform. But our report supplies the Dari and 
Pashto names for the Persian calendar months. To our knowledge this 
is the first time this information has been made available to the 
I.T. community.

>Also we have done partial work on MAC and Unix to support Pashto and Dari.

I have already completely implemented the Pashto, Dari, and Southern 
Uzbek keyboard layouts for Mac OS X.

>Then he say: "Today less than three per cent of Kabul's population 
>knows how to use a computer. In other regions the computer skills 
>are close to zero."

The UNDP said it. I did not.

>Although this slogan will be good for fundraising, but is not true, 
>according to our surveys, more then 20% of literate generation are 
>computer literate in Kabul.

If the population of Kabul is 2 million, and if 36% of the population 
of Kabul is literate (CIA Factbook gives 36% for the whole country) 
that would be 720,000 literate people in Kabul. 20% of that would be 
144,000 computer-literate people in Kabul. Is that what your survey 

>And in all Major cities like, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, Mazzar and 
>Khost. There are more then 100 private computer teaching centers, 
>with thousands of students. Recently, we opened our training centers 
>in Kabul and a remote city like Khost (for what we teach is 
> we had 50+ enrollment in a week. I 
>would say that there are thousands of basic computer literates who 
>need job and attention of software companies, very low cost labor.

Three per cent of the population of Afghanistan (27.8 million) is 
834,000. Are there this many computer-literate people in Afghanistan? 
I don't know. I hope there are more. We do know that many government 
departments are using typewriters, and we saw that the bank records 
kept in the Afghan National Bank (Bank-e Milli-e Afghan) were 
handwritten in ledgers. They were not using spreadsheet software 
under Windows or Unix or Linux or the Mac OS. Or even old programs 
written in COBOL. We did see a number of small computer shops around 
the city, but they certainly were not widely in evidence.

>Our organization, was working for the fast 15 years in localization 
>issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan and have been working for Pashto 
>and Dari languages not only technically, but using our solutions for 
>our own needs and thousand other users.

Oour report does not take anything away from the fact that you have 
been offering support and solutions. Our report makes public all of 
the relevant information any implementor would need so long as they 
support bidi generally. We provide a unified sorting order for Afghan 
languages, date and time locale formatting, guidance to shaping and 
repertoire requirements, and keyboard layout recommendations.

It is our hope that basic locale support (fonts and keyboards) for 
Afghan languages will be available on *all* platforms as part of the 
*standard* OS. Pashto and Dari support should be as easily available 
to everyone as support for any other language.

>So far I had a quick review of his report, but he need more 
>understanding of languages and technical analysis to revise his 
>reports to sever the Afghanistan computing community and not to 

I'm not going to take your statement as any kind of criticism 
whatsoever. There is nothing wrong with the linguistic or technical 
analysis in our methodology or in our report. Indeed as the Ministry 
of Communications is endorsing the report, you might consider 
implementing its recommendations in the next version of your own 

Best regards,
Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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