Check against Delivery
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Secretary of State John Kerry,
Foreign Minister Wang Yi,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend my sincere appreciation to the United States Government and to the People’s Republic China for co-chairing alongside Afghanistan this essential meeting. I commend both leaders, Secretary Kerry and Minister Wang Yi, for their result-oriented diplomacy and constructive leadership in regards to issues surrounding Afghanistan and our neighborhood.
I am also thankful to all other friends and partners of Afghanistan represented here, as I look forward to hear your views on what is an optimal, yet realizable wish of the Afghan people: Peaceful development and regional cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Earlier this month in Kabul, we hosted a Senior Officials’ Meeting, to assess Afghan progress and remaining challenges aimed at promoting self-reliance since the London Conference in 2014, which was preceded by the RECCA-VI gathering of our regional partners to enhance Afghan and regional economic integration.
The Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF), an expanded version of our agreement signed in Tokyo in 2012, guides our partnership with the international community over the next four years. This framework will help all sides deal more effectively with prioritized sectors such as security and stability, social and economic development, regional economic integration, political and institutional reform, good governance, rule of law, human rights and gender empowerment.
However, for peaceful reconstruction and regional cooperation to actually work and produce tangible results, we – in the region – need to experience an actual paradigm shift in how we resolve contentious issues, whether in the context of countering terror and radicalism or other lingering disputes.
I remember a time, prior to the tragedies of September 11, 2001, when Afghan warnings about terrorism trying to conquer my country and use it as a launching pad, fell on deaf ears. Today, after the loss of many more lives across the world, we are at a very different place, as we see the demise of some threats, but the emergence of newer forms of dangers aiming to undermine nation-state stability.
The lesson from Afghanistan is that we cannot allow radicals and terrorists to violently impose false brands that deny human rights, a legitimate order and popular aspirations, in the same manner that no state should tolerate or facilitate the use of terror in the pursuit of foreign and military policy objectives. If we fail to do so, nation-state will have a lot to lose.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Ours is a twin strategy aimed at reaching a real and durable peace with the armed opposition, and through development and economic activity, help unleash the untapped economic potential that exists in our region, enabling Afghanistan and the whole neighborhood to experience more prosperity and growth, and less violence and destruction.
To that end, with the generous help of the international community, we have built a resilient national security force that can now proudly claim to have withstood major attempts by spoilers at trying to destabilize Afghanistan and be a threat to others.
The National Unity Government of Afghanistan opened a new chapter in our relationship with our neighbors and allies to demonstrate our firm commitment to global and regional security cooperation. H.E. President Ghani and I took all necessary measures to ensure that our relationship with one country would not overshadow our relationship with others.
We took a concrete set of actions against anti-Pakistan insurgents posing a threat to both nations. However, in return, we do not see clear evidence thus far pointing to a decrease in the terrorist footprint threatening our people, nor do we yet see cross-border sanctuaries and support systems being seriously denied to those who want to jeopardize the stability of both our societies.
At some point – hopefully fast – we would need to reconsider our options as well as the opportunities before us, which brings us back to the paradigm shift that is required to assure peace and progress in the South and Central Asian region.
We see a very important role for several of our international friends, among them the U.S. and China, who can facilitate, encourage and verify the engagement of the main parties to stay focused, true to their words and accountable.
Meanwhile, we welcome the holding of the next Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia in Islamabad by the end of this year, and look forward to the adoption of a roadmap with clear benchmarks for collective action against terrorism, radicalization and organized crime.
Our message today is clear. We will continue to lead a genuine and inclusive Afghan peace process, closely monitor developments on the ground, will expect to see the dismantlement of terrorist outfits wherever they may exist, seize upon trust-building and peace-building opportunities – small and large – and work toward a more comprehensive denouement. But we will also do everything in our capacity to protect our people and defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I thank you all for your support to Afghanistan, and hope that the co-chairs of this high-level meeting and other concerned stakeholders will continue to stand by our common objectives, and support our endeavors to guarantee regional stability and prosperity, which in turn, help in the solidification of security across oceans and continents.