Remarks to the Nation by His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan On the Occasion of The New Afghan Year, 1390

Remarks to the Nation by His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan On the Occasion of The New Afghan Year, 1390

Kabul, Afghanistan

March 22, 2011

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of Allah, the almighty and the merciful

The Muslim, free and honorable people of Afghanistan;

Your Excellency Vice-Presidents;

Speakers of both Houses of the Parliament;

Chief Justice, and Members of the Judiciary;

Jihadi Leaders;

Brave service members of the armed forces and security personnel;

Foreign representatives;

Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen!

At the very outset, I want to begin by congratulating you all on the New Year and Nawroz festival, especially to our armed forces and young officers of the National Army. I pray to Allah Almighty to bless this New Year with peace, stability, calm and security for all our citizens.

Taking this opportunity, I also like to congratulate our young cadets of the military academy on their successful graduation and would like to remind them that the Afghan nation takes a great pride at your service and is proud of you. I pray to Allah, the Almighty to protect the Afghan youth, members of our armed forces and the oppressed nation of Afghanistan against miseries and adversities.

Sisters and brothers, the brave people of Afghanistan!

We begin the year 1390 mindful that the New Year would be the most important and crucial year in our difficult journey towards an honorable life in peace and security and towards taking over for our own destiny. This year would mark a turning point in our endeavors for peace and state building and a key year for the takeover of more responsibilities by our own country. Decisive and determined, the government and the people of Afghanistan begin this year with the understanding that it is THEIR primary duty to defend and protect this soil.

However, we understand that taking over all the responsibilities for the governance, security and reconstruction at a time when our country is still struggling with the legacies of the thirty-year old bloody war worsened in the other hand by continued interferences and destructions is not something easy.

We also understand that the people of Afghanistan no longer desire to see others defend their country for them. This is exactly for this reason that we have agreed with the world that the duties of the government of Afghanistan must be passed on to its own people. This happens in the framework of a process known as the Transition.

The transition would first begin mid July in a number of areas and would, with the help of Allah, be completed by the end of 2014. This means that providing for protection, security, development projects and all other government related duties would be handled by the Afghans themselves.

The transition of responsibilities in areas of security, development and governance is the answer to the long-held aspirations of the freedom loving nation of Afghanistan. We not only welcome an inclusive transition of responsibilities to Afghan government, but are also firmly determined to put an end to the practice of decisions taken for us by others.

However, we know that it is still a long way to our destination and I believe that partnership between Afghanistan and the international community would continue in different shapes. The quality and quantity of this partnership and collaboration would definitely change. With the transition process completed, the responsibilities NATO and the US would be limited to training and equipping Afghan forces as well as to providing economic assistance.

Brave members of the armed forces!

The objective to restore overall sovereignty to the people of Afghanistan presents a great historical opportunity for the sons of this country to demonstrate once again that Afghanistan throughout its rich and long history has preserved itself with the force of its own people. We have inherited this sacred soil from our ancestors. Thus, it is our duty to hand this proud flag with great honor to our children. Our people and our soldiers must be devout in defending this country and I believe this big tradition would continue to remain in our hearts.

The passage of overall responsibilities to the people of Afghanistan can also lead to increased strength and sustainability of a democratic system in our country. In a democratic system, the human rights and rights of women in the light of Islamic values may further develop and promote. Furthermore, this transition to government would indeed reflect the people’s right to sovereignty. We will therefore remain bound to realize this right for the sake of prosperity and the freedom of the Afghan people.

Ensuring a full and sustainable sovereignty of the Afghan nation hinges on peace in the country. Since the establishment of the Peace Strengthening Commission led by Professor Mujadedi and the subsequent High Council for Peace led by Professor Rabbani, promising steps for peace and reintegration have been taken. Peace and reconciliation stands as a major and pivotal issue in the Afghan government’s policy to seek an end to this devastating war. The nation of Afghanistan keeps wide open its arms to those who are willing to return to a peaceful life. However, dismantling plots by those who stand in the way of peace would require us to display abundant patience and resilience.

We all know that there are some who still want to use terrorism as a tool for interference and dominance (influence), but it remains our duty to provide for our countrymen to return to their homeland. It is through peace that we could save our country from the clutches of al-Qaeda and other terror organizations and bless people with an honorable life under the Constitution. We know that not all those who picked up guns against their country are terrorists driven by ideology or associated to intelligence organizations. There are cases where people were forced to fight us out of injustices they were committed against. We understand that these injustices and violations by the employees of the government and powerful individuals as well as the bombardments, house searches or arrests by the coalition and NATO forces have led to public grievance and resentment. Whatever the cause maybe, this bloody war has to stop and the country has to be guided towards better tomorrow.

From here, I would like to call on the Taliban that there is a place for those who are willing to live in peace and brotherhood and within Islamic justice and law. Foreigners are here, because other foreigners attacked them and attack them now. Return to a peaceful life and share in politics through legitimate means is the only way that can enable Afghanistan end its dependence on others.

I once again announce that before we call for the end to civilian casualties by the international troops, we also want from the armed opposition to stop killing innocent civilians and blasts and the suicide bombings or (else) they themselves would be the cause for the prolongation of foreign military presence and continued crisis and conflicts in the country.

Distinguished participants and my fellow Afghans!

Our country has a critical geopolitical location and is in the spotlight of regional and global competitions and rivalries. Apart from the dangers, this location also presents a set of opportunities that, if used appropriately, can contribute to peace and progress in our country and the entire region.

From this military academy of Afghanistan, I would like to send once again the message of friendship and brotherhood of the people of Afghanistan to all our sisters and brothers in our neighborhood and in our region. For thirty two years now, Afghanistan has been burning in the flames of devastating wars and conflicts. Peace in Afghanistan is for the good of the entire region.

The war and insecurity inflamed in our country today also threatens the countries in our region. In Pakistan, innocent people are killed every day in the hands of terrorists and families are left mourning just like those in Afghanistan. We can understand the grief and pain of our neighbors more than any other country as we have suffered and given sacrifices more than others. I therefore invite all Afghan neighbors and in particular officials in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to give their full and cordial support to our efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan shall not be a threat to the independence and security of its neighbors. We too, in turn, want that the countries in our region cooperate collectively for the security of the region as a whole. If the regional cooperation for economic growth and security in Afghanistan and for the region becomes a reality, we, the peoples of this region would definitely be able to overcome our problems.

Every country has an obligation to take necessary measures and adopt required policies that can lead to security and national stability. For all those who want the countries in our region to settle their own problems, and do not wish to see a lasting presence of trans-regional countries, it is therefore imperative for them that they be sincere and resolute in helping Afghanistan fight terrorism and ensure peace. The principle of respect to the national sovereignty, non-interference in the affairs of others and respect to the legitimate governments of other countries must be promoted to an integral component of regional policy. It is based on this recognition that we have extended a hand of honest friendship to the regional governments and plea for their help in bringing peace to Afghanistan. We realize that the brotherly peoples of this region with whom we have common religion have the same aspiration. It is therefore necessary for the governments to respect this will of their nations. The central Asia and south Asia despite countless cultural commonalities are still among regions with least economic linkages.

Continued colonial legacies, the sense of expansionism and superiority as well as ideological dominance constitute the elements of instability in our region. Afghanistan very much hopes that regional cooperation and integration rather than these elements be strengthened so that we can catch up with the global caravan of civilization and economic and cultural development.

Young officers of the national army, my countrymen and women!

It was around ten years ago when our country was used as a center and base for international terrorism. Foreign terrorists used the sacred land of Afghans as their center for acts of terror. Ten years ago, we liberated our country from a direct rule of terrorism.

Our progress and achievements in the areas of economy, education, rebuilding state institutions and economic infrastructure are as result of joint efforts by Afghanistan and the international community.

The people of Afghanistan recognize and pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives for this common cause and thank all those nations who have helped us by risking their lives and for their financial contributions.

Afghanistan has suffered tens of thousands of losses and has made a lot of sacrifices in the war against terrorism, but hasn’t been able to deliver on the rightful aspiration for lasting peace.

Considering the fact to focus on the sanctuaries and sources of terrorism and to wipe out its roots, we are in concord with the international community on the goal of fighting and eliminating terrorism. But we also fully understand that this war can not be won without the support of the people of Afghanistan, who have given countless sacrifices to this end.

No other way, but protecting and saving the life and dignity of the victims of terrorism can make it possible to win over terrorism. I therefore once again urge that pursuing this war in the Afghan towns and villages can lead to no success; rather it needs to target the causes, sanctuaries and the sources of terrorism.

Just like ours, our allies too have their own national interests in cooperating and helping us achieve shared objectives. It is in our national interest to eliminate the roots of terrorism from this region and this is the clearest reason we are in this current strategic cooperation. We understand that this strategic partnership has stood by a high price our men, women and our children have paid with their blood.

Our progress and achievements are still seriously threatened. In order to safeguard our gains and progress against threats, it is very important for Afghanistan to use, in the best manner, the long-term cooperation with NATO for its national interest.

Continued cooperation and friendship between the United States and Afghanistan based on our national interests is one of the most important components of our security and foreign policy. The deliberations on strategic partnership are currently underway between the two countries. The traditional Loya Jirga will soon be called to determine the objectives and the vision for this long-term strategic partnership. The government with full respect to the legal procedures will take all necessary decisions as per the recommendations of this Jirga.

We must make it clear that the future of cooperation between Afghanistan, the US and NATO would depend on the manner and the quality of assistance they would provide.

The Afghan people may support some kind of an international presence in their country. However, safeguarding people’s life, end to civilian casualties, built-up of Afghan state and ending all parallel functions and structures shall be considered as the basic preconditions for the cooperation to continue with the US and NATO.

As we move towards the transition process, all foreign parallel functions and institutions including private security firms, the PRTs, existence of the militias, detention of Afghan citizens by foreign forces and arbitrary house searches must stop immediately. Taking action on these demands would be a basic condition in shoring up a national sovereign state.

Distinguished participants and the people of Afghanistan!

Early November (Qaws 14, Afghan calendar) this year, an international conference is set to be held in Bonn city of Germany. This conference would be graciously hosted by Germany and chaired and led by the government of Afghanistan. We would present to the conference for discussion Afghanistan’s agenda on development and funding requirements to be decided for the programs and our vision until 2014.

My fellow Afghans!

In the very beginning of my speech, I had a reference to the vital issue of transition to Afghanistan of all responsibilities. Beginning as of mid July this year, Afghanistan is committed to taking full responsibility for the following areas:

  1. Kabul Province, except Surobi district;
  2. Panjsher Province;
  3. Bamyan Province;
  4. Herat city except districts;
  5. Lashkargah city, the provincial capital of Helmand Province;
  6. City of Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital of Balkh Province;
  7. Mehtarlam city, the provincial capital of Laghman province,

The process would start with the provincial capitals and extend to districts.

The assessment is underway for a number of other provinces and cities to prepare soon for the second phase of the transition to start.

A successful implementation of transition process depends heavily on the fulfillment of mutually-agreed commitments made in Kabul Conference. The transition would be implemented in any case and Afghans must defend their values, soil and their country with whatever they have in hand. The following conditions are the ones we present for a better implementation of the Process. The Process of handing over security to Afghanistan and the protection of this country would anyway be handled by the Afghan youth and wouldn’t be reversible.

I therefore present the following points as important prerequisites for a successful execution of the transition process:

-       Commitments (made in Kabul Conference) to channel international aid through Afghan government and the execution mechanisms be discussed with donor community;

-       UN agencies and organizations in Afghanistan operate under a “ one UN system” as agreed with the United Nations; the UN agencies mean there are numerous UN institutions operating in Afghanistan, of which the government is not aware and their spending and performance is questionable to us. We have begun talks with the UN on this and hope the issue could be resolved in the course of this year.

-       For a sustainable economic growth and social development in Afghanistan, the international community should help our country with a number of major national projects and programs of infrastructure importance;

-       The Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) should become contributing agencies to help with the transition. The transition commission is hereby instructed to draft a proposal on this to present to the cabinet,

-       Effective plans and proposals on good governance be developed in cooperation with relevant government institutions; and

-       Required judicial reforms be introduced to ensure justice and good governance.

Dear countrymen and women!

It is true we brought democracy to Afghanistan; it is true we have had improvement in some areas and true that we have laid some strong foundations, but people still do not feel safe. The people still live in their homes disturbed fearing intrusion and trouble by someone from a government agency.

We hope comes a day when the people of Afghanistan sees the government departments and its employees, the courts and the attorney general office serve them and not intimidate them. If we could reach such a time and situation, then the country would have been able to rely on itself and hopeful for a brighter tomorrow. Our officials from security, judicial and the attorney office are all here. Please understand that the calm and peace of mind of our mothers at home are in your hands. It is our duty to provide our people with safety. We have a lot of work lying ahead of us.

My fellow Afghans!

The announcement of the Transition has a special meaning for us, the Afghans. From here, I want to send a message to two addresses: to the armed forces of the country and to the proud free nation of Afghanistan

The courageous officers and soldiers and the security personnel of the country! inspired by the will of the brave people of Afghanistan, I call on you as the soldiers of the nation to spare no devotion in serving your nation with the motto of “ my God, my country and my duty”. The National Army, Police and security forces are duty bound to defend their beloved country regardless of ethnic or group affiliations. The armed forces of Afghanistan belong to the people and not to specific tribe or political group. We need to embolden our resolve in preventing any political interference in the affairs of our national army and security forces.

Brave officers and soldiers of the armed forces!

Defending a country is directly linked to the will of its people. There has never been any question whatsoever in the will of our people in defending their country. However, the nature and the reality of the threats as well as the demands of the time require that we need to upgrade our army into a modern force with high quality performance. It is therefore imperative that across all levels of command and control we take actions based on the principle of merits and qualifications. For a successful execution of transition process, measures have to be taken in line with standards and principle of transparency for a qualitative improvement of army. Here I especially call on the high ranking officials, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, the Army Chie of Staff, Army and Police Generals and of the Security Department.

You must demonstrate loyalty by respecting your laws, your country and by remaining committed to Afghanistan and by keeping the three-color flag hoisting. I want you not to allow this sacred flag be grounded, but rather keep it up flying across your beloved and long-lived Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is the only country whose all tribes and citizens have made sacrifices just to protect their religious and historical values. It is such a great pride that anytime in history where our existence required, we have stood united in defending this motherland.

This message is especially for our leaders, religious scholars and the political elite: Let’s with one voice stand united to defend our national interests and this soil. Let’s work together for the realization of prosperity, government of law and peace and stability. The wounded Afghanistan wants more devotion and dedication from us all and this nation and this country deserve every devotion. I will repeat the same wish I had in my Parliament’s inaugural speech: 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.

Thank you

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