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"We feel responsible to bring peace to our country," Afghan
President Karzai said
Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary,
Members of the parliament, Cabinet Members, Representatives of the International Community, Media Members, Ladies and Gentlemen! Five years ago, with the blessing of the Almighty, I inaugurated the first parliament at this hall.
The opening of the first parliament five years ago carried with it the hopes of our people for peace, prosperity and security, for which we are still struggling. As a matter of fact, these past five years have been full of hopes, problems, adversities and challenges. However, we strongly believe in our people’s 2 unwavering determination that gives us the hope for optimism for a better tomorrow. Our people are giving sacrifices on daily basis to preserve and protect their freedom and independence and this sacrifice will continue to remain a credible instrument for the existence of this land.
I would like to congratulate the people of Afghanistan on their second parliamentary
elections. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Afghan security
agencies and the international forces for providing security for the elections.
I wish you the representatives of the people success in your
duties to serve your people and hope that in the light of the
Constitution and in line with the needs of the people, you
as one of the three pillars of the state would work in harmony
towards a stable Afghanistan based on rule of law.
Ten years ago when we began this difficult journey, we had inherited
a destroyed country with no state institutions of national economy
and education. Our strong army had been completely dismantled
on orders by outsiders and their associates; thousands martyred
and millions escaped to take refuge outside their homeland; our
educated were either killed or forced
out of their country; our country was turned into a ground for
rivalries by our enemies and a land of mourning and grieving.
However, despite all the hardships, the Afghans strived strenuously
to take their destiny in their own hands and to re-build their
state institutions: The adoption of the Constitution and twice
convening of Presidential and Parliamentary elections in a country
that had been a battle ground for thirty years is not easy. We
understand it is a long way to travel a journey for a desirable
democracy. We experienced serious problems in organizing the
elections, protecting the votes of the people, preventing from
and resisting against manipulations and foreign 3 interferences.
Attempts were made to portray the last presidential elections
as illegitimate, leading to the cancellation of the run-off.
Similarly, the recent parliamentary elections were tainted by
questions of legitimacy and obscurities as well as interferences
that followed widespread public concern. The question is what
forces are there that are trying to impasse our young democracy
into crisis of legitimacy and push the three pillars of the State
to confront each other.
We need to deal with these questions with absolute sensitivity
and not to allow the horrific dreams others have seen for us
to come true. Taking over the responsibilities and acting with
patriotism must be a response to the enemies of this soil. For
this, it is therefore imperative to begin to Afghanize all the
state processes including holding elections. The elections,
if held by Afghans, would certainly be more transparent, less
costly, and for the good of a sustainable democracy in our country.
The recent parliamentary elections, as put by the UN has cost
USD 140 million, making one of the poorest countries to hold
one of the costliest elections in the world. There are many questions
we should answer on that and that we should put an end to the
foreign interferences and obscurities.
Promoting and institutionalizing democracy into a culture and
a political belief would undoubtedly require a lot of endeavors
on our part. Many of today’s strong democracies have gone through very critical stages. While being attentive of the people’s aspirations, Afghanistan too needs to learn and integrate democracy as a reality. By going to the polls despite all the threats and intimidations, Afghans, both men and women have demonstrated their desire for democracy. We must respect the sacrifices of the people and protect their votes and struggle to realize their aspirations.
Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, our people still are
burning in the flames of fire and conflict. In the past one year
alone, about 10 thousand people were killed. Men and women,
scholars, tribal elders, intelligentsia, civilians, soldiers
and officers of our security forces and many more lost their
lives protecting their country. I once again offer my deepest
condolences to the families of the victims and pray for a rapid
recovery of those with injuries.
Distinguished Senators and members of the lower house!
Ten years into our efforts, I believe we have reached a turning
Afghanistan’s agreement with the international community in Kabul and Lisbon Conferences on the transition of all responsibilities to Afghans presents a historical opportunity, to which we are fully committed. Within the next four years, we should be able to take over the charge for our own security and would expedite the process of ending the parallel structures. It is the duty of the Afghan government to provide security for its own public. Afghanistan is decisively committed to putting an end to security privatization and to the function of the private security firms. The presence of the PRT’s and some unnecessary international institutions in our country constitute major barriers against our efforts for state building.
Steadily, but surely, we will end these parallel structures.
Everything has to be led by Afghans and our socio-economic life
needs to turn to normal based on rule of law. Afghanistan must
unconditionally become the owner of its national sovereignty.
Sovereignty has its meaning only when we, ourselves are capable
of defending our territorial integrity against terrorist threats
and ensure rule of law by our own legal forces. We should make
every effort possible to take over the duty of providing for
our own security, governance and development projects within
the next four years. No excuse can be justified. Distinguished
Members of the Upper and Lower Houses!
5. No social or economic development and a just and democratic
system can be possible without ensuring peace and reaching to
peace is impossible with military means alone.
The process to re-integrate members of the armed opposition (Peace
Strengthening Commission) led by honorable Professor Mojadeddi
has had considerable achievements. His endeavors for an intensified
peace and reconciliation process are of great value and compliment.
The Consultative Peace Jirgah recommended that we should reach
an understanding for holding peace talks with the armed opposition
and to seek every possible way to put an end to the current adversities
and conflict. As per the recommendations, the High Council for
Peace was established and is ably led by a highly respected personality,
Professor Burhanuddin Rabani.
I once again from this hall, call on all those Afghans who have
picked up guns against their country to give up fighting and
join the peace process. The government of Afghanistan feels obliged
to consolidate all its efforts for peace as a most urgent need.
We feel responsible to bring peace to our country and finish
this conflict as soon as we can. The war on terror must focus
on its roots and its havens. This war is not and can not succeed
in our villages.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Twenty first century has a special meaning for us, the Afghans.
For many certain reasons, our country in today’s contemporary world is turned into a center for geo-political tensions and competitions. Our and other countries in the region are facing threats. This can also provide a great historic opportunity for us to cooperate. An effective use of this historic opportunity is in line with our national will which is to see Afghanistan have a strong presence in the region. This strong
6. presence can not be possible without national sovereignty
and our capability to secure and defend our independence.
Maintaining close relations with the countries in the region
is of strategic importance to us. That is for this reason that
Afghanistan has had an active participation in regional bodies
including SAARC and ECO organizations. We have an observer status
in the Shanghai Organization for Regional Cooperation (SCO).
Countries like ours whose independence and security are seriously
threatened can have two ways to protect their independence and
their territorial integrity:
(1) through building their capabilities to deal with the threats
(2) that they must take the threats seriously through entering
into defense agreements and associations.
It is for this reason that Afghanistan is working with the US
to develop a longterm defense policy.
Our interaction and discussions with the US are on the basis
of the realities, our national sovereignty and interests and
the realities in the region and in the world.
Only by this, the two countries can have a determining role in
ensuring stability and security in the region. This strategic
partnership on defense, security and economic areas should be
long term and binding, which must guarantee
Afghanistan’s interests and defense force.
Determining the NATO and US Force Status is among our main objectives
that, if God willing, be decided by the completion of this legislative
In Lisbon, we reached with NATO an agreement on long-term cooperation.
Within the framework of these agreements, NATO will continue
to help us during and after the transition process completes.
7. Our relation with the Muslim World is like a member of the
same family. Our religion, culture and civilization are an inseparable
part of the Islamic world.
Afghanistan is one of the heartlands of the Islamic civilization.
Islam shapes Afghans’ material and spiritual existence and will remain so.
Our relations with Saudi Arabia is based on a special respect
and guided by H.M, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Saudi
Arabia is a place where the House of Allah to which Muslims direct
their prayers, and where the Shrine of the Great Prophet of Islam
are located. We in Afghanistan are extremely grateful to H.M
the King’s efforts for peace in our country and very much hope
that his endeavors continue.
Turkey is our brother and a historic friend. Turkey has always
helped our people and our country throughout our history. We
are grateful for Turkey’s civilian and military contributions to our economy and development.
The bilateral relations between the two countries first began
during a brotherly relationship between King Amanullah Khan and
Mustafa Kamal Ataturk when both the leaders were fighting for
their independence. This friendship expands on daily basis. We
thank Turkey for its efforts to bring the region closer in ensuring
Honorable Senators and Representatives!
A house can be peaceful only if it has a good relationship with
the neighbor. Iran is our brotherly neighbor with which we have
many religious and cultural commonalities. These shared historical
and cultural values have brought us even closer. Iran has helped
the Afghans over the past thirty years.
8. Over the past ten years, Iran has taken part in reconstruction
and building infrastructure for which we are grateful. Afghanistan
has always been supportive of Iran’s position in the international events and has defended its interests.
Our relations with Iran is based on a policy of mutual respect.
Our common borders are the borders of peace and hope it remains
so. Iran’s security will never be threatened from Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been a host for our refugees since Jihad’s period. Our two nations are bonded by the same religion, tribal connections, common language and history.
No peace can be achievable without security in either of the
two countries. Just like us, Pakistan too is suffering from the
menace of terrorism. The bilateral and trilateral meetings have
helped boost the spirit of cooperation.
The recent Pak-Afghan transit and trade agreement is considered
a major step in bolstering the level of cooperation between the
two countries and the whole region. Afghanistan believes that
without cooperation between the two countries, the threat of
terrorism can not be eliminated. We, therefore, seek stronger
ties to enhance bilateral cooperation.
The recent visit to Pakistan by the High Peace Council delegation
led by Ustad Rabbani and their meetings with government and non-government
figures demonstrates a new call on Pakistan to support Afghanistan’s
peace and reconciliation so stability can be strengthened in
Afghanistan wants to have enhanced economic, cultural and political
cooperation with Pakistan and I hope the two nations do not fall
behind the region’s economic growth and development caravan. Unfortunately, the two countries are behind and the development caravan is ahead. I would like to assure my brotherly
9. neighbor, Pakistan that Afghanistan would never be turned
into a field against the security, stability and the independence
of Pakistan and I want the nation of Pakistan to take this as
assurance from their Afghan brothers. This assurance is in line
with our national interests. This has a direct bearing on our
lives and I want my Pakistani brothers to have no doubt about
Afghanistan enjoys and is committed to a long, lasting and multi-faceted
friendship with its historic and old friend India. This friendship
is in the best interest of both the countries and contributes
to the regional economic development and a stronger regional
Every year, 1350 of our youth through Indian scholarships go
to India to obtain higher education. India has generously given
Afghanistan USD 1.3 billion. Our friendship with India is of
great importance and value to us and we want it further expanded.
China is our friendly neighbor with which we have had good relations
throughout history. We seek an even more expanded economic and
political as well as cultural cooperation with China. We cherish
our relations with China and happy to see it rise economically.
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are our good neighbors.
Our northern borders are the borders of peace, friendship, economic
exchanges and cooperation. Our friendship is based on mutual
respect and want this further consolidated.
With Russia, we have long and historic relations. In our relations,
we are looking for future. The recent meeting between the leaders
of the two countries has opened a new chapter of cooperation
and relationship based on mutual respect.
10. Russian Federation is willing to help us in areas of energy,
road building and education and would like to invest in Afghanistan.
Our country is deeply eager to enhance the relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I would like to briefly remind you of Afghanistan’s achievement over the past years.
It goes without saying that much has been achieved over the past
However, employment and poverty remained yet as two striking
Afghanistan is committed to a free market economy as a system
proven successful around the world. One must also note that free
market economy does not mean there are no rules or principles
to govern it. In every part of the world, governments consistent
to the needs of their national interests and security and for
the sake of avoiding socio economic crisis,
intervene in the market economy within the limits of the law.
Afghanistan has the responsibility to coordinate with the free
market economy its national interests of the society. Based on
this, we support private as well as promote public-private investment.
When we first began in 2002, Afghanistan foreign reserve was
less than USD 200 million, while today as we speak right now,
it stands at USD 4.992 million, which means 8 millions to USD
5 billion. This is the biggest achievement. Ten years ago, when
we first began, our per capita was USD 180, while today it has
increased to over USD 500. Ten years ago,
our GDP was around USD 4 billion, while today it is around USD
11. But, is this enough? Not at all, does everyone in this country
have employment? No. There is still much ahead. We still have
a lot to do. Education and Higher Studies!
Afghanistan has made sizable progress in areas of providing access
to education, economic development, infrastructure building,
shoring up state institutions, delivering health services, providing
ground for freedom of press and many others. Presently, about
7.7 million children are going to 13,700 schools around the country.
However, very sadly, there
is still some 40 percent of our school age children that are
deprived of access to education. We are committed and will do
every effort to provide an environment for 10.6 million children
within the next four years.
We will resolutely be struggling to fight illiteracy and increase
the literacy rate among our people from the present 26 percent
to 48 % within the next four years.
Our system of high education requires a serious review. We must
expedite all our efforts for an improved system of higher studies.
Currently, about 67 thousand youth are busy learning in the institutes
of higher studies and we are trying to increase that within the
next four years to 115 thousand.
Our higher education must respond to our today’s needs. Medicine and Engineering professions must specially be upgraded to respond to our growing needs of today.
My countrymen and women, elders and representatives!
As I am speaking with you now, around 30 thousand of our people
are in India for medical treatment. They have gone to India for
very basic ailments that can be treated in any country. Our well-to-do
opt for countries like Turkey and Europe,
12. which is a separate issue. We can save our country from this
hardship only through putting into practice strong measures.
Our people, the elderly, young, women and men are both spending
money and have trouble heading around in foreign countries seeking
cure to an ailment that should be treatable in their own home
country. The solution to this problem lies
in building the capacities of our medical universities and faculties.
Please allow me to take any necessary action to respond to this
immediate need of our country.
We are in talks with Turkey and others and want our medical and
our engineering lessons to be taught in languages in which research
and learning can be extensive and easy, so the capacity of our
students can be enhanced.
Strong efforts are underway to improve health sector including
our hospitals and their capacity. The Minister of Health will
explain the measures to you sometime.
Previously, the mortality rate among our children was one in
every five under the age of five, today it has reduced to one
in every six children. Thanks God and with the help of better
health services, the life of one child is now saved.
Access to health services has increased form 60 to 65%, which
shows our progress on the sector of health as well.
Surveys conducted of just thirty percent of our country shows
that Afghanistan has deposits worth of one to three trillion
dollars, and this is just from the areas surveyed. Therefore,
when you are with foreigners, speak with pride and honor.
We are not poor, we are wealthy. Our wealth lies underground.
We should bring it out for the development and progress of our
country but on the condition that this extraction and exploitation
be carried out professionally and that its proceeds should go
to the government and the people of Afghanistan. This has the
potential for huge investment in economic and infrastructure
13. We are working on it on daily basis. Professional staff and
experts are working on it, but your cooperation and of the people
is imperative. We are striving to build our technical and professional
capacities. We are working to see how this sector can help us
from now to the next six years and how will this create wealth
and provide for investment. The details are with our ministers.
The other good news is that we signed an important agreement
last month in Turkmenistan, for which we are grateful to its
government. This important and vital agreement is about a gas
pipeline that travels through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
Because countries and private companies are tremendously interested
in it, much attention has been given to this project and if God
willing, success will soon come on its implementation. This is
one of the big success stories of this year.
Agriculture and Irrigation!
Afghanistan is an agriculture country with over seventy percent
of its population in villages and rural areas engaged with agriculture
and livestock. Afghan government recognizes agriculture and livestock
as its priorities to work on.
Agriculture development strategy that guarantees national economic
growth and food security has been developed. The strategy has
three main principles: water resource management; promoting productivity
and restoring agriculture economy. The strategy has several other
key components including protection and expansion of forests,
agricultural lands and pastures.
Modernizing agriculture sector in line with environmental needs
and promoting natural products without affecting the quality
of the products and fruits of Afghanistan are the others areas
of focus in the strategy. We all remember that Afghanistan fruits
were world famous. The more we go back, the tastier our fruits.
Alongside the war and conflicts, one of the other main reasons
why our fruits lost its quality is the use of bad fertilizers.
I plead and call
from this important hall on our farmers and agriculture officials
to avoid the use of low quality chemical fertilizers that destroy
and badly affect the taste of our products. Human fertilizer
is proven to
14. be the most effective fertilizer. Countries are turning back
into using human fertilizer as an effective way of generating
productivity. Researches are being conducted and our ministry
is working on it.
I would also take the opportunity to mention to you another important
Food prices are on the rise around the world, caused by unpredicted
climate changes. Heavy rains and snow disrupts life in one part
of the world, while drought disrupts life in the other part.
All these natural disasters have pushed up the prices again,
as it once did a few years ago. I hope our farmers and officials
in the Ministry are watchful of this so
our country does not head into that trouble.
Thanks God, we have no problem so far and have acted as necessary.
Energy and Electricity!
Ensuring sufficient electricity to meet our internal needs in
concert with the need for industry development is yet another
important issue that we are trying to handle. Afghanistan has
ample water resources which have unfortunately been utilized
little for our irrigation and electricity needs. To build the
country’s capacity, plans are being worked on to make an investment of USD 4.6 billion within the next five years to survey, design, establish, repair and expand the capacities of the power plants and other electricity generating plants.
Roads and Railways!
The extension of roads and railways from the country’s north to the south and from east to west will restore Afghanistan’s historic position as an indispensable land bridge to link Central Asia to South Asia and countries in the region. We, therefore, want to extend the railroad project of east to west besides the one from north to the south and would lengthen the roads to some 3000 km across the country with a cost of some USD 1.792 billion within the next four years.
Respected Representatives of the People!
I want to draw your attention to two vital issues as follows:
As mentioned above, Afghanistan is determined to take over the
responsibilities for its own security, governance and social
and economic development by the end of 2014. Our defense and
security forces are, thanks God, in better shape now in terms
of quality and quantity. We therefore, must try harder to further
strengthen our defense forces within the next four years so we
can remove the need to rely on others in conducting operations.
We are decisive in taking over the complete charge for our defense
and protection. Security transition is both as per the aspirations
of our people and will, with our gratitude, allow our allies
to return home safe and successful. Let me emphasize that the
transition will be inevitable and irreversible and Afghans will,
willing, complete the transition process. However, for the transition
to succeed, our defense and security forces based on the agreements
reached, must get the necessary trainings and equipments. On
our part, we are strongly determined to fulfill our commitments
and would like our allies and partners too to fulfill their commitments
in providing needed enablers to Afghan security forces. Taking
over the charge requires our devotion and a sense of self-reliance.
I therefore, call on brave soldiers and officers of our armed
forces that, “ you are the sons of those courageous and brave
men who protected and defended this land for thousands of yours.
Every day is a day of taking over security for this sacred soil.
Don’t forget that we will be defending this land anytime and
in any situation, there is no yesterday, today or tomorrow. Be
prepared to protect the territorial integrity and independence
of your dear country with devotion and sacrifice.”
We can not be the owner of our own destiny without a responsible
government, determined to fight corruption. People of Afghanistan
are deeply troubled by
corruption, lawlessness, and illicit economy and drug smuggling.
Fighting and rooting out corruption is one of the prime duties
of our government. We have to be decisive to stamp out this menace.
Corruption whether in government or in unclear system of foreign
contracting and the unclear spending of the aid to Afghanistan
is a major hurdle against good governance
and sustainable development in our country. Afghanistan is ready
to take responsibility and be accountable for the money we were
involved and answer for every penny to both the people of Afghanistan
and the donor community.
However, Afghanistan can not and should not be held accountable
for the money it has no idea of how and where it went. We can
not take the responsibility for this money. The government of
Afghanistan is ready to account for the money
spent through its system and explain on its spending to the people
of the countries who earned the money so hard and aided Afghanistan.
But, we can not and are not responsible for the money spent in
our absence and against our will.
Distinguished members of the parliament, ladies and gentlemen!
We can get back on our feet only when we are capable as a united,
proud and a dignified nation to protect our national values and
our land. There is no doubt that we are at a highly critical
moment of our history today and we have to use this historic
opportunity for the good of a strong and prosperous country.
This land is the home of all the tribes who are living in it.
We can have our differences of opinions and compete on seeking
better ways of public prosperity.
However, we must stand united as one when it comes to national
interests and defending the independence and our territorial
integrity. Today once again, our three-color flag hoists around
the world. From the mountains in Badakhshan to the deserts in
Nimroz, from north to the south and from east to the west, the
people and our soldiers and guards are sacrificing their lives
in protecting their land. This sacrifice and devotion and share
of pleasure and pain require that we further unite and set aside
Ladies and Gentlemen!
You do not represent one tribe or one province. You are representing
the whole Afghanistan. You represent your entire nation. A prosperous
and successful tomorrow of Afghanistan lies in your hands. Over
the past several months during the presidential and parliamentary
elections, we all saw the competitions and contesting which is
natural during such democratic
exercises. However, anywhere in the world, once the competitions
are over, national unity begins.
Once competitions end, cooperation takes over and service starts
to deliver. I therefore, hope that in the face of the threats
our country faces and the opportunities available today for a
brighter tomorrow, we all have to join hands to move this country
to a place where every citizen, elderly and young desire. We
have come a long way, but still need to journey
the most difficult and restless part of it. This journey requires
hard work and strenuous efforts. Those who are devoting their
lives for the protection of this land and those young who are
working to build this country expect service from
us. Nothing less than that can satisfy them. I am reminded here
of those lovely words by President Kennedy of the United States,
you all have heard his name, who once during one of his addresses
to his nation said, “ask not what America can do for you - ask
what you can do for America.”
My question today is whether we ask ourselves what can Afghanistan
do to us or are we at the service of Afghanistan?, if we are
at the service of our Afghanistan, this country can build itself
or else the blame will reside on us as the responsible and the
politicians of today.
Honorable representatives and senators!
Over the past ten years, many men and women from different countries
have served here under the International Security Assistance
Force for which we are grateful. Their officers and ambassadors
are sitting here with us. Let me express my gratitude for the
money, whether one or a hundred penny, and for the services and
efforts their military and civilians have
made to our country. They have helped us at the cost of their
blood. We thank them for the hard earned money they give us.
You [foreign guests] might now and then hear us complain over
casualties, on why you cut off our
trees and bomb our houses.
Please don’t mind when we complain because it is our legitimate right. We have to convey to you the voice of the people. We both are trying to avoid any harm to civilians during our fight against terrorism. Afghans too, just like any other nation has the right to live in peace; the right to be happy. Have you seen a nation doomed to mourn and grieve for good? no, no where in the world. Our hope is that you with this understanding march together with us towards future, so you can succeed and your victory is possible only and again only through winning people’s consent and satisfaction.
Despite all this, we thank them for their efforts and for their
contributions and their services in Afghanistan. I would also
like them to understand that Afghans are a bit obstinate and
quickly enraged and want them to bear with us and not to propagandize
against us [laughter].
My countrymen and women!
As I mentioned earlier and I repeat, Afghanistan can only be
built with your hands. Foreign assistance is welcome, we are
grateful, but this land, the streets and roads and districts
and orchards of this country can only be built by the hands of
the people of Afghanistan; can be built only with our hard work
and there is no other way.
I wish you the members of the House success in your duties. I
pray to Allah, the Almighty to guide our country out of the disasters,
killings and destruction and to bless us with peace and prosperity.
Let the name, Afghanistan be a word on every man and woman’s tongue; let the sacred name be engraved in our hearts and let the name be written on the mountains so our children can play on the streets of a happy tomorrow and wish a perpetual Afghanistan.
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