Back to Speeches


FEBRUARY 23, 2010

Thank you, and good afternoon!

Congressman Berman,
Congressman Royce,
President Gedmin,
Dr. Billington,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a distinct honor and privilege for me to participate in the opening of this magnificent exhibit on “Voices from Afghanistan.” And I am most delighted to be joined by two distinguished members of the United States Congress, whose dedication to public service and to the stabilization of Afghanistan, I greatly admire and deeply appreciate, on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan.

I also wish to extend my gratitude to Radio Free Europe and to President Gedmin for promoting freedom of press in Afghanistan, and for giving voice to the millions of Afghans who listen to your radio and raise their concerns about the challenges we all face in Afghanistan. These letters speak to that fact, and we are grateful to you. And I should thank the Library of Congress and Dr. Billington for your continued support to Afghanistan over decades, by maintaining one of the best collections of various works of historical significance on Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As you go over some of the letters, you will notice that the “Voices from Afghanistan” showcase the beauty and resilience of the Afghan culture, as well as the hope of our people. A letter from an Afghan refugee will recount the many hardships refugees and internally displaced persons have experienced in and outside Afghanistan; a letter from an Afghan student will tell you about our new generation’s hope and vision to gain education and be connected with the rest of the world; a letter from an Afghan woman will tell you about their expanded rights but also concern about security and justice; and letters from Afghan children will tell you as much about poverty as about their innocent optimism for a brighter and better future.

Despite feelings of despair and frustration in some letters, these Afghan voices are full of optimism for a better future for our people. Of course, where we are today, and the sense of much hope and optimism in our people, as we note in poll after poll over the past eight years, would not have been possible without the support of the American people and government.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Afghan people and Government are grateful to the United States and our other nation-partners for the many sacrifices they have sustained to secure Afghanistan and to help us institutionalize pluralism, freedom, and equal opportunities. Every poll conducted over the past eight years show that more than 80% of Afghans believe in democracy to be the best form of government and wholeheartedly support its institutionalization in Afghanistan.

“Voices from Afghanistan” speak about desire for peace and justice. Please help us deliver.

Thank you.