Saturday, November 18, 2017

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan  At the 72nd Session of United Nations General Assembly

19 September 2017

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery)

Bismillah Rahman-ur-Rahim

Mr. President, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I stand here before you today, I am reminded that the wise men and women of 1945 displayed a unique capacity to learn from and act on lessons of history. Shaped by the Great Depression, and tempered by the carnage of World War 2, they established global order through institutions that would provide security and stability for generations to come.  The UN, the IMF, the World Bank and other organizations were founded to coordinate responses to international challenges and to make crimes against humanity a thing of the past. 

There can be little doubt that today, the scale, scope and speed of their imagination and efforts have not yet been matched. But future historians will judge these institutions on how they respond to the challenges of today, and the challenges we must confront in the future.

As global leaders, we seek certainty and familiarity in the rules of the game which dominated the 20th century. But in today’s ever-changing world, the dominant contextual characteristic defining our times is extreme uncertainty. It is easy to illustrate this uncertainty by looking at threats we are facing to our economies, our security, and our values.

There is an emerging consensus that advanced economies have yet to arrive at “proper growth models” to overcome high unemployment, decreasing income and wealth inequality. The threat of economic crisis, therefore, still hangs over us.  

Sixteen years after the tragedy of September 11, the threat of violence by non-state actors has taken the form of a Fifth Wave of political violence. Driven by transnational terrorist networks, criminal organizations, cyber-crime and state sponsorship of terror, this Fifth Wave promises to be a decades-long threat to international security rather than a passing phenomenon.  In the 20th century, the world came together to push back the spread of fascism so that democratic freedoms could be secured. Today, these very freedoms are under attack from global terrorism. Terrorism is not only an attack on human life and basic freedoms, but an attack on the compact of citizenship–an attack on the nation state’s relationship with its people which makes democratic societies unique, fair and free. We must confront the threat of terrorism as a united force, and meet it with a long-term solution that matches the long-term agenda of the terrorists themselves.

And, lastly, despite the incorporation of tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the constitutions of most countries of the world, crimes against humanity still occur with painful regularity.  The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is especially shocking. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lengthy silence was tragic, as our hopes that an icon of human rights would choose principle over power. I do welcome the chance for Afghanistan to have a seat on the Human Rights Council in order to have a more central role in discussions on these important issues. As a people who are still experiencing crimes against humanity – the latest being killing of civilians in the Mirza Ulang village and attacks on mosques in Kabul and Herat – we are keen to add our voice in support of human rights. 

Mr. President,

Overcoming the destructive and disruptive patterns of change in the 21st century requires collective and coordinated action at the global, regional, national, local and individual levels.   An effective, efficient and respected United Nations is the need of the hour–we must put our 20th century institutions to the test.

Therefore, I congratulate His Excellency Miroslav Lajcak on assuming the Presidency of the 72nd Session of the UNGA. I want to recognize and appreciate the efforts of His Excellency Peter Thomson during the previous session, and I commend His Excellency Secretary General Guterres for launching his reform of the UN.  

If the UN did not exist today, we would have to invent it to address the demands of our time.  Delivering on the promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the context of uncertainty requires reexamination of core functions, re-engineering of business processes, reinvigoration of organizational culture and value, and reform of systems of accountability.  If the UN is to be more relevant to countries like mine, it must deliver as One UN. But this has not yet been fulfilled. The inherited model of the UN agencies as instruments of technical assistance and capacity building should be subjected to the market test, namely value for money and sustainability of results in comparison to government, private sector and non-governmental modes of delivery.  Mutual accountability is a proven mechanism of consolidation and expansion of partnerships, and trust-building.

Mr. President,

I am honored to stand before this distinguished assembly to represent and speak for the people of Afghanistan. We have borne adversity, deprivation and drought with dignity; met invasion with valor; defended our homeland with patriotic fervor.  Being the frontline state in the global struggle against terrorism and the front line of defense of democratic freedoms, our people and security forces are accomplishing heroic deeds on a daily basis.  

We, too–as a nation, a state, and a people–are reinventing ourselves to address the challenges and potential offered to us in the 21st century.

With President Trump’s recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan’s enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected. We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty.  The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years. We pay tribute to all the men and women of allied nations who have served with us, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The strategy consolidates all instruments of American power, conveying a message that the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily. Only through political settlement can we achieve enduring peace and I call upon all ranks of Taliban to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue.

We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbors on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism.  I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state to state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity. 

The Afghan government has proven that we are committed to peace through our own internal processes, as demonstrated by the peace agreement with Hizb-i-Islami.   Now, we call on all of our neighbors, near and far, to join us through the Kabul process in our comprehensive quest for peace and regional stability.

However, moving forward, we ask for a change of perspective from our international partners. For too long, the conflict in Afghanistan has been viewed through the prism of civil war. But this war is not within our soil, it is over our soil.

Today, there are over 20 international terrorist groups with an imposed presence on Afghan soil. The future of Afghanistan matters because we are on the frontlines of the global effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism. Our brave soldiers are fighting and dying for this cause, and the sovereignty of the Afghan nation, every day. Though we may be on the frontlines, the threat knows no boundaries. For terrorist groups who are harbored in the region, an attack in Kabul and an attack in Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, London or anywhere else are equal victories. President Trumps’ new strategy includes the disruption and denial of sanctuary to terrorists whose motives know no boundaries.

However, a strong and enduring commitment from our international partners alone will not ensure our collective success in Afghanistan—the roots of success are indeed within us, as Afghans.

Today, nearly three years into our decade of transformation, we are turning Afghanistan into a platform for stability. The foundation has been laid. We have articulated and are rigorously implementing roadmaps for reform. Namely, we are prosecuting the corrupt, ending corruption in the security sector, replacing systems of patronage with merit-based systems, and making financial processes transparent.

We are also reaching out to those who had previously been excluded from society—young people, the poor, and women. Yet these people are our nations’ source of resilience.

The generation who grew up in the 1990s, which make up the majority of our population, are now being entrusted with wholesale leadership of the country. A generational change is taking place as youth are empowered at every level. This generation will be the one that reforms the government into one that is citizen and service-oriented.

Through unimaginable hardship, women kept the fabric of our communities and societies together even as they fell to shreds. Yet women were relegated to the very bottom of society. This was unacceptable and our nation suffered for it. Today, there are more Afghan women in government, in the workforce, and active in civil society than ever before in Afghan history, yet we still have far to go. At the helm, we have 6 women Ambassadors, and 4 women cabinet members. Simply put, women’s empowerment is crucial to our future.

The poor, along with the women and the youth, are the numerical majorities in Afghanistan that crosses ethnic, linguistic, gender and religious lines.  About 40% of Afghans still live below the poverty line. Research shows that poverty perpetuates itself because it affects the scientific make-up of a child’s brain. We must empower the poor. For far too long, they have been the silent majority in our country.

We are recreating the bonds of society in order to change the culture of our state.

And not only are we strengthening our bonds internally, but regionally.

As we look to our neighbors in south and central Asia, we are simultaneously strengthening national, global and regional connectivity. Afghanistan will again become a multi-faceted hub in the 21st century–for transport, energy, water and mining–for the benefit of the entire region’s economic prosperity and security.

And we are already seeing the fruits of our labor. Transmission lines for the Central Asia-South Asia power project are under construction. The Turkmen railway has reached our border. The TAPI natural gas pipeline is under construction.

As a central part of our plan for economic advancement, we continue to work with our regional partners to seek avenues of collaboration.

We can see now, amidst the uncertainties and unique challenges and threats of the 21st century, how Afghanistan has become a conundrum for the 20th century approaches in which the global order tends to still operate within.

While the threat of international terrorism playing out on our soil has dominated the narrative of our country and driven the fate of our people for far too long, we also have enormous potential to be the regional brokers of peace, a hub for economic prosperity, and a beacon of democratic values. The birthplace of Rumi still resounds with messages of love, peace and hope.  Afghanistan will, yet again, be the Asian Roundabout for dialogue of civilizations and a model of harmony and culture of tolerance and engagement.  

I am confident that our plans and programs for self-reliance and reform, bolstered by the commitment of our international partners, will chart us on the path toward realizing our full potential.

                                   

I thank you.

 

 

Remarks by President Ashraf Ghani in the Indian Council of World Affairs

 

New Delhi, India

April 29, 2015

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Mr. Vice-President Ansari, Ambassador Bhatia, distinguished audience, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to be with you tonight. I apologize in advance for being much briefer than I intended to, because you cannot make the President of India wait.

First of all, my deepest sympathies to the people of Nepal. I have had the pleasure of walking the mountains of Nepal repeatedly, and having been a privileged observer during their remarkable process of democracy, all our hearts go to them. Himalayas are joint together among, tragically the earthquake has not been confined to Nepal, I have just learned that we have lost over 50 people in the province of Badakhshan to a recent earthquake.

I begin with ecology because the change in the climate forces us to think thorough continentally. Natural disasters do not respect political boundaries. Yet the states of the region continuously fail to take account of the need that … the imperative that we must cooperate to deal with these phenomena. And I am heartened by Prime Minister Modi’s assurance that we will all mobilize to tackle this very important issue.

In the next 20 years, I go straight to the proposition, in the next 20 years Asia is very likely to be transformed from a geographical notion to a continental economy. This is profound implications for the way subsequent centuries are going to be formed and shaped. But two trends compete, because ambassador Bhatia asked me to highlight both, challenges and the opportunities.

First, on the challenge side, the challenges that we are dealing with a new ecology of terror. Terror is becoming a system. Morally, it is reprehensible; sociologically it must be comprehended as a system. And what are some of the key characteristics of this new ecology? It is morphing very rapidly. If Al-Qaeda, with all respects to Microsoft, was Windows 01, Daesh is Windows 05.

Second, it is being imbedded within the criminal economy and an unprecedented amount of finance is being made available to this new ecology.

Three, it is becoming very brutal and focused on brutality in order to all the population.

Four, it is becoming networked in a very rapid rate. And fifth, it kills for the sake of killing and overwhelming.

Within this ecology of terror, Afghanistan both from a perspective of narrative and from prospective of operation is seen as a single theatre. Today, due to a series of convergent phenomena, various groups threatening stability in Asia are converging on our territory. They have been pushed over to our soil, because they thought that there was a weak spot.

We are the battle front. We, today in Afghanistan, are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbors from India to Russia. This fundamental challenge asks the state system to respond coherently together organically. But, what we know about bureaucracies is that they are slow to grasp, slower to act and slower to coordinate.

The main threat, therefore, is not from the phenomena the ecology of terror, the main threat is from lack of coordination by and between states, so that we can have a coordinated response to a state system where weaknesses within the state system are the opportunities on which the ecology of terror thrives. This, I hope, more than anything else makes one phenomena clear – there is no advantage to competition between and among states when it comes to the ecology of terror. Any states sponsorship of these networks or their accommodation threatens the system as such. And that is the challenge that we must deal with, because the system that we have inherited, you can date it any way and whichever way but take for convenience post 1945, is now under attack. Unless this resilience in coordination is injected into the system, we will all suffer.

The second aspect is the opportunity. So, let me highlight some of the key opportunities in terms of Afghanistan because the public perception, the metaphors are about the threat, that is why I have to  knowledge it out-front. Our first advantage in the next 25 years is our location. Until 18th century, our location was a key advantage, we were roundabout. A roundabout as (inaudible) best described it, is a place where all ideas, people and goods come to and go out of. We were an open space, we were a space that 500 year ago linked west Bengal to Nishnonivegrad no cash was required, one of the most sophisticated systems of bills of exchange were developed, a system of arbitration of disputes, a caravan trading system, a transport network, in other words, there was an economy both, symbolic and real.

This ecology was disrupted by the rise of European imperialism.  A space that was a roundabout was turned into a marginal space. We became the theatre of Kipling. So while India got reoriented to western economy, China got etc. Afghanistan got marginalized. In the next 25 years, our location is the key connector. All roads between Central Asia and South Asia, have to lead through Afghanistan. We are also the connector to East Asia and to West Asia. But this means that the potential, in order to realize the potential, we must think of infrastructure very differently.

It is not the old minority trade based system that would move the continental economy; it is a cluster of infrastructure, rail, road, pipelines, power, fiber optics and air. This cluster needs to be developed coherently in order to deliver the advantage. And development of that cluster, again just give you a slight indication, in the next 25 years globally there would be about $65 billion, the very system from $45 to $65 trillion of investment are required in infrastructure. About 60 percent of this is likely to take place in Asia.

We need to evolve very different instruments to realize this potential. But this potential would be transformative. If we were to realize this, well, the obvious question becomes, is the specialty that is required for this available? There, there are two answers. One, of course, South Asia remains the lease economic integrated region on earth. And unless South Asia grasps this opportunity within the next ten years, part of it will integrate much more to East Asia, part of it would integrate to Central Asia, and part of it would integrate to West Asia.

But the other part is for the continental economy and for the advantages of Afghanistan to develop, and that is not need to be contiguous develop. Why is that? Because our second advantage is our mineral resources. In the next 15 years, we will become the largest producer of copper in the world, the largest producer of iron in the world, one of the largest players in the gold market globally, and we have 14 of the 17 rare earth material. Our marble resources are enough to last the region 400 years, our construction material. 33% of Afghanistan’s natural resources have been mapped, the estimated worth is from $1 to $3 trillion.

With India’s and China’s transformation, this natural wealth awaits to become part of a continental framework. If you look into development of this natural wealth from a national prospective, you see limitations. When you see it from a regional prospective, you see immense potential and opportunity.

The problem with natural wealth, of course, is that it is a curse attached to it. If we are to avoid the curse of natural wealth, our first priority must therefore be our location. Our second priority, again, we have the head-waters for practically every single one of our neighbors. We only use 10% of our available water today with 1960s technology. The land under cultivation in Afghanistan is exactly about half of what it was in 1978. And, again, we are in the midst of 3 billion people. Water and cooperative arrangement regarding water is going to be the key to responding to changing global ecology, and to creating new regimes of sharing inefficiency, so we would actually put water and land second and then third being our natural wealth.

Our fourth advantage, we are a country of the poor people with enormously rich individuals. We have money, but we do not have capital. And the difference is, money does not become productive. In order for money to work and to become an agent of transformation, it has to become capital. And thereby, again, comes the immense experience of the region. India’s creativity in terms of financial instrument, in terms of the range of funds, and the enormous power of the Indian diaspora to transform money into wealth is one of the key issues.

Our fifth advantage is our entrepreneurship. The Silk Route and millennia of connectivity has given us remarkable capacity to work. With energy and thrive, we, Afghans are tough, we don’t accept hierarchy, because of that we thrive on networks. But the type of hierarchy that the market brings actually is a much more disciplined process.

So, if we have these advantages, what is it that prevents us, and what is it that we need in order to contribute both, to the rebirth of the Asian continental economy and to gain.

First, I use the word “rebirth” because for millennia there was a continental system. India’s textile exports to the west are part of every child’s story. But the amount of textiles that Northern India where we are sitting and today’s Pakistan exported to Central Asia and to Russia, is through scholarships determines was larger than the South India exported to Europe. These ranges become important.

As part of this, the fundamental challenge then shift to being conceptual. Why conceptual? Because, model of building economies are based on national boundaries. If we are going to realize Afghanistan’s immense potential, we must think regionally. Regionally because the experience of the region each single country enables us to cut time by a phenomenal extent. Take just one example, the amount of investment that India has made in technology, cost of research in development. If we wanted to start with a national model, that would require us 50 years to catch up. But thinking this to a comparative cooperative framework, allows us to master time much more quickly and to be able to bring this about.

When you put the two issues together, the challenge of the ecology of terror and the opportunity of a roundabout, I hope that we can shift political understanding.

So, what is it that we view ourselves as? Certainly, not as a battle field for proxy wars. Certainly, not as a space to become tested over. Certainly, not a buffer to be dominated. What we offer is a model of cooperation, a platform where all of us can come together. Where a transformative capacity and the imagination is translated into building solid institutions where all of us will be able to live in comfort and dignity.

Delhi, you can begin with having breakfast in Delhi, lunch in Peshawar and dinner in Kabul. I hope that what is immensely possible, can become actually achievable. And the day, when I will drive after retirement from Kabul to Delhi, I look forward to dedicating my life to creating this possibility of cooperation.

Thank you,

 

 

Transcript of President Ghani’s Remarks at Joint Press Conference with PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi, India

April 28, 2015

Besmillah-e-Rahman-e-Rahim.

Honorable Prime Minster Modi, the distinguished Indian delegations, member of the press,

First of all, let me express my deepest sympathies to the people of Nepal. I have had the pleasure of visiting Nepal repeatedly, I have walked those mountains, once a 180 km road and ones a 200. I have engaged intensely, and in this hour, I salute like you, their courage, their resilience, their determination. And your leadership and martialing SAARC resources in this crucial hour are re-assuring to the people of Nepal and to the people of the region.

Natural disasters does not respect boundaries and I hope that with the launching of the satellite, the SAARC satellite, that is one of your initiatives, we will be able to predict, prepare and deal much more effectively with natural disasters and change environmental conditions, because we must bring the potential of the SAARC, that is still the least economic integrated region, yet with the most potential to the far, and all of us joining forces to make SAARC an economic reality would be an extra-ordinary step forward.

India and Afghanistan are bound by a million ties through millennium. Our ambassador was telling me that there are an estimated 30 million people in India who claim decent from Afghanistan in various parts.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with people who after 200 years of living speak still Pashto or dari of absolute pure cadences. That is an indication of the ties that we have had, and the past year is a guide to the feature. Other regions need to overcome their past in order to build the future, we can build a future based on appreciation of our past.

Afghanistan was a roundabout, a place where ideas, people, goods came and flowed from south Asia to central Asia to west Asia. Our vision today is to be guided by that potential, where again, the energy of central Asia will flow to south Asia where pipelines, fiber-optics, railways and connectivity, air, ground and virtual would connect us.

In this regard, we very much welcome your emphasis on the bilateral and multi-lateral transit and transport agreement, Attari Waga is a desired destination for us. It would allow Afghan goods to again reach this vast market, and may I take a moment to thank Tagore. Kabuli Wala has done more to give us a brand that we could not buy with a billion dollars of advertisement, so I am delighted that the old version is being watched, and a new version is being prepared, that will give you a much more authentic setting inside Afghanistan.

I speak of Tagore because I was raised on Tagore by my grandmother who lived in Dera Dhon, in Lahor in exile, and was educated, and those are the personal type of ties. India’s own story has been well-understood and often commented.

The continuity, the vision, the remarkable transformation. But India’s impact on others is not been as much understood. My generation growing in 1950s grew on Indian texts and people. Abul Kalam Azad, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahir Lal Nehro were not names, but ideas people leader, so I would like to pay tribute to Indian democracy, to the discourse of rule of law, to the discourse of equality, to the discourse of engagement and transformation.

That is where we join together because Afghanistan’s quest is for democracy. We have through the formation of the government of national unity, and let me convey the best regards of Dr.Abdullah and the vice presidents and other members of the cabinet who are not here, as well as the Afghan nation to you.

Our political state craft has shown that divisions of the past are not going to be the confining limitations of the Afghan imagination. The formation of the Government of National Unity is a tribute to the desire of the people for unity.

Peace Mr. Prime Minister is our significant goal because the shadow of terror haunts our children, our women, and our youth. What people in the rest of the world take for granted namely for a young girl to go from home to school and return, is still an exception to us. Terror must be confronted and must be overcome. We are determined to make Afghanistan the graveyard of terror.

Our well must not be underestimated and we will not be beaten into submission. But terror, if it’s to be contained, and if the disease is to be cured rootstock and branch, requires a regional framework of peace and cooperation. We are determined to change the regional nature of cooperation against all forms of violence what is essential is that the state system in the region rises to a new understand.

Terror cannot be classified into good and bad. It cannot be differentiated. We must have a unified approach, we must be united both in the region and globally to contain this phenomena. That is the legacy and Afghanistan today is fighting the battle against terror on behalf of all our partners and neighbors and we appreciate your moral support and your understanding of our quest for containment. I would like to also express thanks for India’s very generous assistance. Over 2.2 billion dollars have been spent, a most significant part of which is in the formation of the human capital.

We have 13,000 Afghan students today, in Indian university and this of course will be the ground for formation of new ties and expanded ties that would enable generations to come, and your support in this regard and the intensive discussions that we had, to turn the potential of Afghanistan into an actual reality is highly appreciated.

Indian investment is important to us, and we would like very much to see coordination, transport access, not only through Pakistan, to Waga Attari, but also to Chah-Bahar would be crucial for a country that is a dual nature; Landlocked if you look at geography, and a land-rich in a roundabout if you look at political economy.

We look forward to an Asia that is economically integrated, that we are profound and lasting peace between states prevails, and where we allow the incredible energies of our people, the entrepreneurial talent for which south Asians are best known, to tackle our greatest enemy; poverty, exclusion, discrimination.

In that quest, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for both your leadership in India, and SAARC, and for your support for Afghanistan. It has been a pleasure and we are looking forward to receiving you in Kabul. I hope that you would not only come to inaugurate the parliament that is a very appropriate gift from one democracy to another, but to visit the Bamyan valley and some of our other sites as well.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan