Transcript of Statement by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at
51st Munich Security Conference
February 8, 2015
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
I am the elected President of a 99.9% Muslim country, a country where 38% of the electorate were women, where in order to participate, people had to face cutting of their fingers. I bring, first, couple of stories to you and then connect to the themes of the Conference.
On June, 2014 , a man with a tractor who would not allow his woman to get out of his house for 40 years, took forty trips on a tractor to get the women to vote , because legitimacy in my country now comes from the ballot.
On December 16th, 2014, our children playing volleyball were massacred in cold blood and when I called their parents, they told me they have the resolve of steel to stand up to the threats of terror, that they want peace, a peace to enable their children to go to school and become like me, pleased with the word, firmly anchored in our great civilization, and committed to equal rights.
And two weeks ago, we had 4000 Ulemma, these are religious scholars, uniformly they supported the Afghan national army and endorsed our security compact with the United States and our Status of Force Agreement with NATO.
We, ladies and gentlemen, speak for true Islam, for the believes of people and for the aspirations of the future generations. Daesh [ISIL], al-Qaida and the rest of the networks are the aberrations and we must have the courage to be able to speak for the absolute majority, but in order to speak for them, we must deliver but before that, let me first, Ambassador Ischinger, thank you and thank the members of NATO-ISAF, particularly the United States, European colleagues and others.
Over four thousand of your citizens, men and women, lost their lives in our country, close to a million people served in rotations, we honored that sacrifice and that sacrifice is not going to be in vain, the Resolute Support Mission that began on January 1, 2015 has been approved by the majority of the two Houses of the Parliament of Afghanistan and it’s a platform for future cooperation.
Together, there is substantial amount that we can do, but what is the nature of the threat? I would like to speak of the ecology of terror, terror has become a system in a distinctive ecology. And fortunately, Afghanistan where our successes have made us not be headlines, because when will the media report on a success, is still the focal point of the media of this ecology.
Pakistan’s operations in North and South Waziristan, have had a displacement effect, where the center of gravity is shifted to Afghanistan. Daesh [ISIL] is fast moving to stage four of its classic pattern, namely organizing, orienting, deciding and acting. The threat of this ecology is global but Afghanistan is the meeting ground of this global ecology, lest we forget this and take our eyes elsewhere, there will be consequences.
This is not to say that we are not committed , the world does not owe us, we must first take the responsibility to reorganize and we are. The reform programs that we have embarked on are substantial, focused, and their key goal is to honor the electorate. In terms of the idea, we have done what has been unprecedented, namely a victor in an election not claiming the prize, but forming a government of national unity so that all the electorate would be represented. Political consensus is the first basis of moving forward and we are moving forward.
Second, we have engaged the region. Our active diplomacy has brought a series of trilateral relationship, the most significant of which has been China, United States and Afghanistan. Equally, our engagement with Pakistan has been intense, comprehensive and hopefully in quiet. We do not make announcements, we look for outcomes. And we are hopeful that there will be outcomes that will make results that will be game changers in our part of the world. We have engaged our Central Asian neighbors, and soon we will have witnessed the birth of the Lapis lazuli route, a route that would connect Afghanistan to Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
We have engaged all members of five circles of our foreign policy, and here particularly again I would like to thank the United States and the framework nations of Germany, Italy, Turkey, UK and other members who are contributing to the Resolute Support Mission.
But on the ecology of terror, our focus is country by country rather than on understanding the ecological system. Our response system is slow, because we really don’t understand networks. We take the threats individually rather than systemically. And it is very important not to isolate the events from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya from what is unfolding in Afghanistan and South Asia. Because the threats from the network perspective are becoming stronger, the state response is, unfortunately, weaker.
I am glad to see the concept of hybrid warfare make it into Munich security Conference’s vocabulary. We have suffered from this practice, so I’d like to call attention to one feature that is not part of the vocabulary yet, “criminality”. Deep networks of criminality are a driver of conflict. Most of the time when we focus on peace, we focus on the ideologues, on the discourse, on formation of networks of discursive understanding. The key question is who finances the conflict and who benefits from it? It is not that the discourse discursive part is unimportant, but without understanding the deep roots of financing. The global criminal economy is worth 1.7 trillion a year, and the criminalization of part of Afghanistan’s economy is certainly among the top 20 contributors to this.
So, in terms of response, we need compacts for stability and prosperity and this must address four levels; one is at the national level. What enables terrorism to thrive and instability to prevail, is when the citizen is not in the center stage. The Afghan citizen does not live in the 16th century, 18th or 19th. She lives in the 21st century and aspirations of the 21st century. Her participation in the election must be honored by honoring the election and the democratic system and not dismissing. Of course, it is taking a long time for one of the poorest countries on earth to become fully stable, but the intention in the engagement of the citizen must be taken.
Second, regional – in the region we have had a practice, where states, if provided sanctuary to non-state actors, and or where they have sponsored, where states have sponsored non-state actors deliberately to undermine the security of a neighbor. I hope that it becomes clear that those days are over.
Third, the Islamic level – there is a struggle for the soul of Islam, for who speaks for this great civilization, and we must not remain silent. Silence is no longer an option in face of the barbarity of killing the Jordanian soldier or the Japanese hostage or others.
And fourth is global – our global institutions are slow. They are product of mid 20th century, geared to response to conditions of the 20th century. Without a global architecture that responds to the conditions of 2015, we will always be not two steps behind, Mr. Alisa but ten steps behind. So we do hope that at the global level, we can reorient.
But my last message, and thank you for the opportunity, is one of hope. We will overcome all these difficulties, because Afghans have a unique space in Islamic history. No one in the 20th century has paid a higher price, sacrificed as much, and suffered as much for defending our faith against the Soviet invasion for standing for what is right, for aspiring to generate and contribute to order. Based on that record, now the people of Afghanistan are ready, not to just open a new page, but to begin a new book, a book of cooperation, understanding and engagement. Our location, our water resources, our mineral resources, our entrepreneurial energies, all allow us to hope for a different day.
We hope that you will remain engaged, and committed and that we all together can participate in inclusive global order where we will all benefit.