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Remarks by
H.E. Said T. Jawad Ambassador of Afghanistan
At Johns Hopkins University
“A New Foundation for Afghanistan”


Washington, DC
March 31, 2010

(Good afternoon! And thank you for the kind introduction.)

Dr. Frederick Starr,

Friends of Afghanistan,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to thank Dr. Fred Starr for convening this forum. I would like to recognize the presence of Dr. Peter Saleh and Mr. Masud Akbar, two members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Afghanistan. I am truly delighted to be here and to speak to you about our conceptual ideas for establishing the Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization. I’d like to briefly discuss the Foundation’s preliminary mission, the need for such a Foundation, as well as our potential projects and objectives. The purpose of the forum is to start dialogue and consultation. I look forward to your input. The board is traveling to Kabul soon for further consultation.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Despite our accomplishments, the scarcity of human capital is still a roadblock in Afghan-led sustainable development. I believe restoring Afghanistan’s human and social capital through education, exchanges and skill development will facilitate sustainable development and peace. Historically, war, violence, brain drain and an insufficient education system have led to a shortage of qualified professionals, civil servants, business leaders and educators in Afghanistan. However, today we have a new generation of capable Afghans who are committed to the social and economic development of our country and eager to learn more and better connect with the rest of the world.

Afghanistan wants to be self-sufficient, strong and self-reliant, with capable public and private institutions. We can achieve this through a productive and equal partnership with the U.S. and our international partners that is based on cooperation and mutual understanding. Strengthening such a partnership between our people is the key to increasing and sustaining Afghanistan’s development, promoting pluralism and democracy, and working towards regional stability and global security.

President Obama’s new strategy provides renewed opportunities to further strengthen Afghan capacity and responsibility. Afghanistan’s future success is contingent on education and capacity building. To do our part, the Foundation seeks to improve the efficiency of existing programs and projects and help find practical solutions for the implementation of policies such as in “Afghan First” by increasing the human and institutional capacities of Afghans through increased civilian interactions, people-to-people and cultural exchanges. This effort, we hope, will benefit both the people of Afghanistan and the United States by saving cost through improving efficiency and enhancing professionalism in Afghanistan

The Foundation also intends to implement specific projects that channel new resources to informational, cultural and educational exchange programs. We will focus on scholarships and capacity-building initiatives, research and translation of academic texts. Such projects improve the institutional capacity of the government and civil society and eliminate corruption. The Foundation ultimately aims to act as a switchboard and clearinghouse for demands and opportunities by setting up a better coordination mechanism to create synergy between the existing initiatives and projects.

To help achieve this objective, the Foundation will concentrate on the potential of talented and committed Afghans who can be trained to assume leadership of our country’s educational, social and economic development. Training and empowering Afghans will result in major cost saving on military and civilian fronts and reduce the costs of hiring international consultants.

We have considered a number of important projects for building human capacity in Afghanistan. Here are some examples:

The Foundation will help facilitate the return of qualified Afghans, both in the U.S. and Europe, to Afghanistan to remedy the shortage of human capital.

Furthermore, the Foundation will expand the existing student exchange programs to bring in more Afghan students and faculty to study and research in the United States. These exchanges will generally be mid-term and long-term study programs. And to prepare students for education in English, the Foundation intends to provide English language training in Afghanistan by supporting existing Afghan academic institutions. Language skills are in demand both in Afghanistan and here. We also intend to provide scholarships for capable Afghans in qualified Afghan private universities such as the American University of Afghanistan as well as Kabul University. Overall, these exchange programs should result in increased mutual understanding between U.S. and Afghan citizens, foster friendship, and strengthen moderation and promote democratic values and peace for the new generations to come.

Today in Afghanistan, school enrollment has increased close to 700% in comparison to 2001. 6.3 million children, 35 percent of whom are girls, are now going to school. More than 50 million textbooks are published, and 3,200 schools have been built. The quality of education, however, still needs improvement. University enrollment has grown from 4000 (all male) in 2001 in two universities to 76,000 (one-third women) in 17 universities.

Capable professional associations, such as Women Business Federation, Afghan Bar Association and numerous writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists associations, poetry reading clubs as well as Chambers of Commerce and industries are being formed. We want to support, connect and nurture them.

The Foundation will also create opportunities such as public dialogues, citizen-to-citizen and group-to-group interactions, people-to-people engagement and collaborations between private and public sectors to promote Afghan-led and Afghan-owned sustainable development.

In addition, the Foundation will help promote in-country research, academic publications, and translation of key texts from English to Dari and Pashto. Finally, the Foundation will offer a platform for engaging Afghan and American academics, policymakers, business professionals, multilateral groups, civil society members and journalists, as well as Americans and Afghan-Americans to debate, exchange views and seek better solutions to Afghanistan’s stabilization and reconstruction challenges.

We know that we need to train more qualified professionals, civil servants, business people and educators. Fortunately, today there is a tremendous amount if goodwill for Afghan people here in the U.S., Europe, Japan, India and our region, and a large pool of committed and young Afghans are eager to help their country. It is our hope to connect them all. Professional, educated Afghans—both in the Diaspora and in Afghanistan—are ready and willing to play a central role in taking the leadership role in newly built institutions. To take on the real leadership roles in such newly formed and generally expensive institutions, internal and international networking and connectivity is crucial. The Foundation will particularly concentrate on building human capital and the potential of talented Afghans to enhance the outreach and performance of state and civil institutions.

The Foundation for Afghanistan now has an office in Washington, D.C. and will be opening its Kabul offices soon. We are very amenable to benefiting from your expertise and any ideas and suggestions about improving our concept and mission for the Foundation. Please help us with raising awareness and funds and improving our mission and programs.

Before I close, I wish to thank all friends that have supported us and want to acknowledge the valuable pro bono and legal advice of DLA Piper, especially the capable team of Mrs. Renee Schoenberg, Mrs. Brenda Meister, Mr. Larry Levinson and Mr. Ted Loud.

Thank you.

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/292804-1