Arg., Presidential Palace,
May 21, 2015
In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful
First of all, let me welcome you Ambassador Koch, General Campbell, distinguished special representatives, ambassadors, Minister Rabbani, Minister Ulomi, Deputy Minister Karzai, Ambassador Saiqal, all other colleagues.
Let me begin with paying tributes to the sacrifices that your sons and daughters have made in blood. They will be remembered by this nation, and I want to honor every one of them, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, those who wounded, those who would be marked by our valleys, by our deserts, by their memories for ages to come.
I would also like to thank you all for the considerable treasure that you spent here in a time when domestic priorities have been important, even urgent. When social programs have had to be cut even in the most advanced countries, you financial commitment to us have been important, and on behalf of every Afghan citizen, particularly the women and girls of Afghanistan, I would like to thank you. It has made a difference; it continues to make a difference.
Second, I would like to thank you for sharing with us in understanding of the threats as well as the opportunities. We have a careful balance to understand the threats, but also to think about the opportunities. When we focus on threats, we focus on overcoming the past, when we dwell on the opportunities; we are energized by the future, by the prospects of what this beautiful land can be and what this people who are marked by resilience against adversity can become.
This is a shared journey and we hope that as you have been with us, you will continue to do so.
I would also want to thank you for commitment and partnership. At the end of the transition, the security transition, you could have walked away, it was not an imperative, particularly not in your domestic environment, to stay; you stayed because of principle. So, I would like to thank every state and government, in particular President Obama, and leaders of the framework nations and all troop contributing countries to the Resolute Support Mission, and other partners who are helping us face the adversities. This commitment has enabled us, to focus on building the future while dealing with the legacy of the past.
And simultaneously, I would like to thank you, and please convey this to every head of state and government, I have said this in person to those I have met, and I would like you convey this that the commitment to partnership, forging of enduring partnerships, where we would shift from dealing with threats to creating opportunities is essential, and this is really vital.
Let me take this opportunity to do a quick stock taking.
First, the context – We deal with the agenda of transformation in a context where the rules of the game are uncertain. The old global order with balancers, with rules, with stability of states interacting to the Westphalian system, is not in place.The new order is emerging, but to be caught in a transition between changing world orders, is to be both, cursed and blessed. And part of the curse, I would like to highlight, first the ecology of terror is changing.
We are dealing with terror as a systematic phenomenon, it is becoming more lethal, it is becoming more organized, it is becoming more resourced, it requires from all of us a common understanding of this. Because, without understanding this ecology, we will not be able to fashion the strategies to overcome it. It is a competitive ecology and it is a cooperative ecology, Daesh competes with Alqaeda but they both cooperate in undermining global stability, and all the others.
Second, we don’t have a weak link now in the state system. We have a weakening chain of states. Each time a state in the Middle East or other parts close or far to us collapses, it increases the weakening of the entire chain, and it strengthens the ecology of terror. Iraq or Syria are not distant from us. They provide lessons, and they provide networks back and forth.
The ecology of terror is not a respecter of boundaries or asking for passports to travel. And when the states are weakening, and there is not an alternative vision, it of course affects us.
Thirdly, it was fashionable from the 1970s some earlier, for some states to rely on non-state actors, malign non-state actors as instruments of policy. They relied on this instrument to balance power with more powerful neighbors near or far, but the adverse consequences of this policy I hope have become clear.
Malign non-state actors cannot be defined between good terrorist and bad terrorist, there are no good terrorists, terrorism is evil, pure and simple. And we here witness it every day, so if you want to ask for an opinion, ask the maim children of Afghanistan.
The forth factor is, the reinforcing networks of criminal economics and criminal politics. The global criminal economy is at least $1.7 trillion a year. A lot of financing, it provides the bidding, the platform for these other types of activities, and in turn the criminal economy seeks ungoverned spaces. They finance un-governability and instability. So, in this context what do we do to respond this?
Our vision of Afghanistan is as a platform of cooperation. First of all, I will come back to this, the war we are fighting is on behalf of everyone in this room, this is not our war alone, it is a conflict that is being fought on behalf of the future generations and on behalf of regional and global stability.
Our circles, very quickly, neighbors, India to Azerbaijan, Russia to Turkey, we are in a circle. And this neighborhood must arrive at stable rules of the game, without stable rules of the game where states recognize each other’s sovereignty and simultaneously share in cooperation to bring about a stable system of cooperation, the problems cannot be solved nationally.
Some of our fundamental challenges are regional, today terrorism threatening China, India, Russia, Iran, all of you around the table, I cannot count because I will be going on counting for five minutes focus on us, so therefore we need a collective sense of purpose. This will not come over night, but in the next ten years we must work towards this goal.
Second, the Arab Islamic circle – Islam is our guiding principle, we are 99.9% Muslim in this country, our Constitution is guided by these principles as well as the principles of human rights and constitutional law.
The negative impact has been enormous, because we have had the spillover or the displacement effect. Now we want to cooperate and our outreach has been very significant to establish a common platform against terrorism.
The declaration from Mecca some months ago from the holy city of Mecca against terror is a very significant statement. And the principles that have been articulated, and the analysis of the root causes are hopeful signs that we are no longer in denial.
Here the key question is who speaks for Islam? Elected leaders, who have been elected by women who braved the cutting of their fingers and voted, or a minority relying on terror?
We must stand out to be counted. In that, I think Afghanistan offers, despite all our problems, immense possibilities.
Our third circle which have been partnering with us in blood and treasure, the United States and Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, NATO, the Resolute Support Mission, and other providing security assistance. A very big thank you to all of you, geographically distant, emotionally close, and General Campbell in particular I would like to thank you for the partnership and your leadership.
Our third circle is trade, investment and aid. I want to put it in that order. First and foremost, our prosperity is going to depend on trade, every one of our neighbors can do a lot more for us and for themselves by agreeing to equitable trade patterns and focusing on those than billions of dollars in assistance because trade will create sustainable prosperity.
Investment, Afghanistan is a paradox where rich country inhabited by poor people. 33% of our natural wealth is currently estimated between 1 to 3 trillion dollars, and that is just touching the surface. We do provide the headwater, and with every shift in the climate, our water becomes more valuable. Our land is the connecting area of all parts of Asia, all roads to Central and South Asia, and East Asia and West Asia can potentially converge on us. So, investment is crucial. We are very grateful for the type of investments, the big steps the China and India have taken, and I hope that others will follow, because that is a critical element of the future and we are committed to creating that enabling climate.
And then, aid – we are grateful for the assistance, and we are partner with you through the London Conference frame work self-reliance that Minister Hakimi will elaborate.
The instrument for this platform of cooperation are bilateral, trilateral and multilateral, every problem cannot be solved through multilateral, the fundamental building block is bilateral, because we must solve those problems bilaterally that could be solve bilaterally, those that need trilateral solutions, we would approach trilateral, and those that require multilaterally will be solved through multilaterally, because if we put everything in the basket of multilateral relationship we will have to wait and the key is to be able to move the process forward. The Lapis Lazuli route that’s likely to, that’s very, imminently, becoming imminently feasible linking Afghanistan through Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, Europe and of course to Russia and Ukraine is a fundamental example. Afghanistan economically now is very much a part of the Caspian, 70% of our trade is likely to come through this rout, five days to Europe, maximum 7 days depending on routes. We are not a land lock country anymore, we are in the process of becoming around about and bridge. Chabahar will be an extremely important event for us, we are grateful for Iranian and India for cooperating on this, and of course we are looking transformation in Karachi in the sets of the relationship that will enable us to have free movement all in multiple direction and this is crucial, measure is strengths of bones over short medium and long terms, our bones might be week initially, but they need to become stronger as part of a coherent strategy. If they are strong we need to maintain them, and expand them and modify them, Afghanistan as a platform of cooperation I think will provide an example as to how the new world the new order that is globally possible can shape, by people enforces coming together rather being disunited, we will never permit our soil to be used against anyone, of our neighbors near of far but we expect the same from all states, and that is crucial to regional stability.
While that plat form of cooperation is about vision and being guided by vision of the future, our current reality is war, the last thing I wanted to become and to address you as is a war president but that’s what I am, and I am proud to lead our arm forces, we will answer war with war, let there be no ambiguity, on a daily bases I take stock of our security forces of their wellbeing, and of their orientation, we did not seek war the war has been imposed on us, but we will overcome this war, let there be no ambiguity, and my message to all people surrounding us, don’t bed, do not wager on collapse of the Afghan state, we will not collapse, we have a 5000 year history and we are going to be here another 5000 years, the resilience of our people should not be under estimated, all those who have invaded us in past have misjudge the resilience of our people and they have paid the price, those who come with peace are welcomed with huge arms but those who seek war will have an answer. We are past the point of ambiguity , this war is not against foreign force, foreign forces have left, this is the war to destabilize a democratically elected government to deny people and opportunity.
Second we seek a twin peace, peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan and peace between the afghan government and armed political opposition, there has been an undeclared state of hostility that our colleagues in Pakistan have acknowledged, that is the primary peace between the states, I am pleased with the nature of our discussions. This is going to require overcoming the legacies of the past. In order to win the future, we must overcome the past, but overcoming the future requires mutual movement, reinforcing a virtual circle, because the threat of terrorism is a common threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan and to the region. We must focus on this threat so that peace between two states can become an enduring phenomena, and I am pleased that prime minister Sharif in his recent visit to Afghanistan declared the enemies of Afghanistan to be the enemies of Pakistan and the he would not permit Pakistani territory to be used, we need to see this translated into program of action, where sanctuary is denied and where material support and others it’s an extensive program and we are in good discussion.
The second is peace between the Afghan government and those who disagree with us politically, every afghan must be included but when they declare war, they must know that there is no court. You cannot kill our children and expect us to hold flowers, what we arrived at negotiation table, will be an enduring peace, this is a war of positioning, it’s not a war of a legitimacy, they want the position to seek better advantages, for God sake, are our children lives our women wellbeing our future worth positioning, if it’s going to be positioning we will deny your position, because we are seeking peace as a principle not as a tactics, it’s an enduring thing and it needs to be matched. Our security layered, our approach to security is layered first we have 32000 especial forces that are among the very best in the world, so if people think that Kabul is going to collapse or our major cities are going to collapse, or the state structure is collapse minister Ulomi and his colleagues have news for you. No, this is not possible, we are enduring the sacrifices but we are fighting. Second we have 6 army corps commands, now matched with 6 zones of the police under that national police and a variety and finally local police force.
There will be like old wars some movement back and forth, but I would like to seek your focus is the big picture And then ask Gen. Campbel, where the resources of the armed opposition are matched or not, yes we do need more air support, I have been very clear about that but this is a war, where we can be confident of not collapsing and consolidate. Our armed forces have taken the initiatives and simultaneously are fighting some surprises, but so far keep our fingers crossed, so good, I would like at this movement, to express again gratitude for RSM (Resolute Support Mission)and for the stability and flexibility of all of you regarding 2015.
We have lost 8 months during 2014 where crucial decisions regarding transition could not be made, because his Excellency President Karzai had made clear that he would not sign the BSA and the status of forces agreement that were essential to planning, we have made up for those 8 months that is taken immense efforts, and Gen Campbell and his team really need to be congratulated for the immense work that they have done with us, but I would like to particular thank the leadership of our arm forces.
I am pleased to announce that Mr. Stanikzai will be our next minister of defense, so we will have the defense team in place, with a new chief of army staff and a first vice minister of the ministry of defense. Our crucial issue, regarding air support is simple, as certain time will say it might and we are working on it.
Let me turn to political concerns, and I will make just four points. First, overcoming the past, the afghan political elite during the last 2 hundred years has been the sources of instability in this country, we could not get ourselves to consensus. Our quarrels destroyed the opportunities for our people because there were no coherence, the national unity government is an answer to it, it’s an enduring phenomena, it is not accidental, it is not imposed, I am very pleased with my working relationship with his HE Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, we see eye to eye, but building consensus requires careful balance.
Second, confidence in the future- the cabinet of Afghanistan marks as social transformation, a phenomenal change in political outlook in a generational change. Two years ago most Afghans would have thought that this type of cabinet would be inconceivable, please have discussion with the cabinet members, we have our leaders who are going to lead this nation, they are not just manger, they are leaders, because they will lead to, but most significantly the cabinet is becoming a body a decision making body and it has arrived its mechanism of working. Next week the first 100 days plan of action, from the cabinet is going to be launched. Every minister would have one hour to address the nation, and there would be a tight accountability framework.
After the first 100 day action plan we are going to pause for a month to take a look and then launch our second 100 day action plan. I want to congratulate my colleagues in the cabinet for the immense discipline and creativity that they have brought. My only fear is that they may promise too much, so my request to them now – and this would be something quite unusual from somebody like me: please promise half and deliver twice, not the other way around, as Mr. Rabbani did among others as well as Mr. Uloomi [laughter].
Thirdly, constitutionalism-this is key to us. What differentiates Afghanistan of 2015 from Afghanistan of 1842 or 1880 or 1992 is that now we have the domestic national rules of the game in place. It is the constitution. The succession from President Karzai to myself is an immense tribute to the Afghan citizens. The rights and obligations of citizenship are embodied in the constitution so what is crystal (clear) is that we are not building personal rule. It is institutions of the state according to rule of law and again the national unity government, which was not or the phenomenon about which the constitution was silent, shows our creativity within the rule of law, within the constitutional structure.
Lastly, inheritance and legacy – accountability and transparency of costs; I just give you one example: there was a fuel contract for the Ministry of Defense worth approximately one billion dollars and there was allegation of one hundred million dollars difference between two prices. We investigated it. And of course we are punishing the culprits, we are dealing with them. But it brought the war to a halt, so we had to devise measures that were 50 % good on accountability but which allowed us to continue. And second reform has a lot of costs but its advantages are borne in the medium to long term while the status quo is a lot of appearance.
There is a cartoon; it says that I declared that there is no free lunch and half of the government walked out. Yes, the period of free lunch is over but you need to understand that there would be a lot of disquiet and we need to deal with this. This is an inevitable part of the reform process because when we say the word reform we think that it is just an overall positive phenomenon not for those entrenched stakeholders; people who have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars; people who have seized 10s of 1000s of hectares of land or are engaged in smuggling narcotics etc reform is a sign of declaration of war. We need to understand this. We need your support in the balancing between continuity and change. Because of this, I would like to turn to sequencing and sustaining of reforms.
First, where we have succeeded at the first layer of governance is at the central level. The cabinet is now led by creative and committed individuals but the Ministries are not reorganized. The Ministries are legacies from Othman empire which we were never apart; today’s legacy is coming. One of our most significant things in the cabinet every day is to devote at least one hour to rule making; reexamination of all the laws and relationships to remove duplications between ministries as at least 40 % of the dysfunctionality of the government is because of overlapping authorities.
Then, we are now tackling sub-national governance. A new generation of governors is being appointed. Appointing a governor is a much more difficult task than appointing a Minister. And this is crucial but the second 100 days we are going to focus on bringing cabinet and the governors together to articulate joint programs so that it can truly become national in scope but provincial governance has immense problems the first of which will shock you is that a province has no legal definition neither does a district. The provincial governor is a direct representative of the president; every head of the department is a representative of a ministry. There is no accountability from the department heads to the governor or vice versa; none of our provinces has a budge; it is all centralized. There are fundamental changes in national governance that will take place which is important.
The second area which is crucial is rule of law and justice. I will have the rare honor to appoint five judges of the Supreme Court- two this year and three next year. I have interviewed every single head of provincial courts, all 34 of them and next week I will be turning after launching of 100 day plan to interview all the key justices in Kabul. Over 600 prosecutors are graduates of high school and cannot do elementary submission of cases. There was a consensus from all the 34 judges that 60% to 90 % of submissions by prosecutors didn’t meet the law. This is one of fundamental areas of our weakness and corruption in the justice sector is a driver of conflict. But over all of this is going to require as much focus and attention as we had to do on the cabinet and that is what we are committed to.
Thirdly, electoral reform and parliament elections and then presidential elections. This is a must; we have a consensus on it. Technically, we can be fairly certain that the 2019 president election would meet all the critical requirements of accountability, transparency from technology to rules and others.
Parliamentary elections are a very difficult challenge because of legacy. We don’t have electoral rules despite your generous expenditure of 1 billion dollars; this has not resulted in a sustainable system. Multiple voting cards have been issued etc , etc. That is key to get right next to conducting the war. It is extremely important that we reach consensus on what constitutes a feasible and credible parliamentary elections and then a breakthrough from the past, from then on and again we invite your attention and support.
Lastly, let me turn to market building. This phrase should not come as a shock. The market is not a natural phenomenon; what passes for a market in England, in the UK will be unrecognizable in Germany and vice versa. So there are models of the market and our tragedy has been that in the last 13 years we have not focused on a model that suits us and that is our crucial challenge now. Our vision is to become an Asian Roundabout: China’s, India’s, East Asia’s, West Asia’s and Central Asia’s growth provides us a set of opportunities that are unprecedented for any country in conflict. And what we have focused on and that is our challenge where we seek again your partnership; we cannot just design a national economy; it must simultaneously focus on the regional and global dimensions; without that we will not have the prosperity that we seek. We will be, God willing, the largest producer of copper in the world, the largest producer of iron in the world, one of the most significant players in the gold market; we have 14 of the 17 rare earth materials etc, I can go on, but there are two stories: In 60 years Congo’s GDP has increased by 1 billion; Singapore’s GDP, I think, has increased 200 fold; so natural resources are both an opportunity and a curse but this is extremely important so that we can focus.
Second, self-reliance, Mr. Hakimi will speak more about this, but the key to us in terms of our contract with our citizens and with you the international community is to create a sustainable fiscal basis for the state. We are meeting our revenue targets despite the difficulties and we are determined to expand them in shifts; key now is to grasp and harness our potential; just look at one example; Afghanistan can generate at least 26,000 megawatts of electricity from our rivers. Power generation is not an area of dispute because the new system of run of the river avoids any international disputes; all the water that is taken is put back. Yet the master-plan that was drawn for us by consultants for the first five years recommended importing electricity for our urban centers rather than generating it.
This is getting the cart and the horse backward. Afghanistan must become a producer and it must harness this potential to be able to demonstrate the potential. I approved CASA 1000 in my first week in office and I am delighted that it is moving but we need a lot more cooperation particularly in terms of generation. Utilizing government purchasing power for building market efficiencies is key for us. The government purchase constitutes 16 to 18 percent of the GDP; it has been totally washed away by corruption and lack of focus; we must bring government expenditure and link it to the pockets of the people. We have had more meetings on wheat as a national priority than in the last 36 years combined.
Our import bills are a scandal; we import 2 billion dollars of meat and milk products and one billion of wheat; this country, I will say, barely be able to sustain so it is extremely important to do this and then leadership is not about vision; it is about really dealing with the boring; Dr. Abdullah and I have the honor that every Saturday, we sit for 3 to 5 hours reviewing every single contract as part of the national procurement board. In 6 weeks, we have saved over 20 million directly and 100s of millions of dollars indirectly; leadership needs to connect to the boring, to the routine, to the detailed so that systems can be created.
Let me conclude first again with a thank you but with some voices: In Yahyakheil, our children were playing volleyball; Yakheil is in Paktika. I went to condole a man who had lost 7 members of his family; he got up and said two things; one, we have an iron will; let it not be confused we will never bend to force or to terror; just give us the very primary means of defending ourselves and we will defend this land. Second, he said, we want enduring peace, the peace of the pen, the peace where our children are educated, where they become …Paktika has immense natural potential including vast fields of gas… to lead those so not that they are workers but they are leaders and managers.
Istiqlal school is just a stone’s throw away from you. Our children’s orchestra composed of orphaned children was performing a play against the horrors of war and a suicide bomber blew up some of the people including a German citizen for whom I have expressed our condolences, who just needed a break from his very demanding job at the ministry of mining. These children are performing; their leader was a professor, an Australian. He came back and despite the fact that he is wounded he is not leaving to go back to his professorship in Australia. He is proud to lead this orchestra because those children are the voice of the future and the hope of the future. The discourse of rights is becoming a global right; you know we talk about all kinds of rights; we Afghans want to simplify it; we want to be able to breathe; we want to be able to move and we want to plan the future. Thank you for your partnership; thank you for your commitment and thank you for your sacrifices.
– END –