Minister of Foreign Affairs
Biography of Mohammad Haneef Atmar Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
H.EBorn in 1968 in Laghman, eastern Afghanistan, Mohammad Haneef Atmar is one of Afghanistan’s most senior leaders of the post-Taliban democratic era. He has served in several key governmental posts, including National Security Advisor (2014-18), Minister of Interior (2008-10), Minister of Education (2006-08), and Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (2002-06). In his governmental career, Atmar is credited with major reforms and public service delivery achievements.
In April 2020, Atmar was designated as Minister of Foreign Affairs, his fifth ministerial posting. On November 21, he was confirmed by the Wolesi Jirga as Foreign Minister of the IRoA. In this role, Atmar envisions preserving the developments of the previous leaderships of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and leading the institution to be a fit-for-purpose foreign policy actor in the region and internationally.
As President Ghani’s National Security Advisor, Mr. Atmar reformed the National Security Council to lead effective inter-agency policy formulation and coordination processes. This led to better decision making in matters of national security. Among his main achievements, he led government efforts to strengthen the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Atmar promoted regional cooperation with a focus on security and counter-terrorism and directed the negotiation of a successful peace agreement between the Afghan Government and Hezb-e-Islami, a major anti-government armed faction.
As Minister of the Interior, Mr. Atmar undertook major reform and development of the Afghan National Police to provide law and order and security services. At the Ministry of Education, he launched Afghanistan’s National Education Strategic Plan, ensuring better access and quality of education across the nation. This resulted in remarkable gains for girls and women. As Minister of Rural Development, Mr. Atmar designed and implemented the National Solidary Program (NSP), Afghanistan’s largest public investment initiative in history, with a focus on rural poverty reduction. Meanwhile, Mr. Atmar served as a member of the Presidential Oversight Committee under President Karzai, where he played a key role in the formulation of the first Afghanistan National Development Strategy in 2007-¬8.
Additionally, Mr. Atmar has played an active role in Afghanistan’s modern political life. He pioneered the participation of a new generation of technocratic leaders in the Afghan government and politics. In 2010, he founded the Rights and Justice Political Party in 2010 and ran an energetic, nation-wide campaign in the 2019 Presidential Elections, before withdrawing from the final race in the interest of focusing on the nascent Afghan peace process.
During the 1990s, Mr. Atmar was an aid worker in Afghanistan, holding senior positions with various national and international non-governmental organizations. He highly values his experience of working with communities across Afghanistan early on in his career, which continues to influence his leadership.
Mr. Atmar holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Post-war Development Studies from the University of York, UK. He has published several academic works on the role of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.
Atmar is married and has two children. He speaks Dari, Pashto, and English.