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Afghanistan: Promise & Prospective After Election
Talking Points by Ambassador Said T. Jawad

Interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Distinguished panelists, ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me to thank the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for organizing this discussion.

The upcoming elections are another significant millstone on the path to democracy, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. It will open a new and very significant chapter in our political life. Years of invasion, war and resistance have made us tough, bedrock people. We are known for our ability to fight and pray. Now, if the international community delivers on its promises, we are determined to demonstrate our skills for building democracy and a prosperous, civil society in Afghanistan.

With the elections, we will enter the second phase of state building in Afghanistan. The first phase of state building is welding the different groups and segments of the population around a nation-state by providing a national vision and creating national institutions. It is constructing a stable government. For us, the second phase is more crucial. It is the essential phase of building a democratic and secure state by providing good governance, implementing the rule of law, fighting corruption, ensuring individual liberties, and empowering the private sector.

While in the past, success in Afghanistan was set in the context of preventing negative results, such as spread of terrorism and violation of human and gender rights, now, with the upcoming elections, Afghanistan is emerging as model of success, creating positive and exemplary results for the region. A stable and developing Afghanistan is becoming a facilitator of regional economic and democratic development. The resulting jump in commerce and trade through Afghanistan is encouraging the movement of goods and ideas along the historic trade routes of Asia.

The Afghan election will serve as a model and blueprint for democracy in similar societies. Afghanistan’s successful advance on the path to democracy and state building will impact upon the expectations and the aspirations of other people suffering from terror and tyranny.

The impact of the elections will not be limited to the region; it may influence voting here in the USA and Europe.

The success of the Afghan election represents a good example of the triumph of international partnership. The goal of this partnership has been to transform a failed and terrorist sponsored state into viable state that contributes to regional and global stability. This partnership is helping rebuild an Afghanistan that is politically stable and democratic, and economically self reliant and prosperous.

Afghanistan is a wonderful example of the success of the cooperation of civilizations. In Afghanistan, today, we have religions of the world, and cultures of the world cooperating with each others to make the world, the region and Afghanistan a safer place. 41 countries are contributing solders or resources to stability operations in Afghanistan. 29 countries are helping train and equip our national army. The Afghan people have received with warm hospitality and deep appreciations the assistance provided by the United States of America, Europe, our neighbors and the international community.

This international partnership has given the Afghan people a hope for the future. A hope that Afghanistan in a few years will be standing on its own feet, a hope that Afghanistan will be providing its own security, a hope that Afghanistan will be a stable and strong democracy. President Karzai has nurtured and sustained the politics of hope and inclusion.

The people of Afghanistan have demonstrated that they have chosen the path of democracy, as shown in their enthusiastic participation in the registration process for the election. Our people are fully utilizing the newly acquired constitutional rights and freedoms and opportunities. Afghan women are returning to school and to the workplace, and participating in the politics. We are experiencing successes in education, health care and development of a market economy. Kabul is the fastest growing city in Asia. Other major cities are flourishing with business and reconstruction. The Afghan private sector has now access to the newly established international banking services. Highways are being reconstructed. Families are being reunited as three million refugees have returned to their homes and villages. People have set up more than 14 independent and privately owned radio and TV stations throughout the country. More than 270 newspapers and periodicals are published. Women are acquiring a strong voice in the media. About 5.6 million children have returned to school.

Return on limited international investment in Afghanistan has been tremendously good, as evidenced by an economic growth rate of 30% last year and continuing at 20% this year, according to the World Bank.

We are realistic about the challenges that Afghanistan will continue to face after the elections:

• Challenges of preparing for the parliamentary elections, building civil organizations, developing political parties with national vision, providing a secure environment for the parliamentary elections, where good candidates can run; and people can vote without fear or intimidation by warlords and drug barons.

• End security problems posed by the terrorists and warlords.

• Improve local and district level governance, and reform, and strengthen our government institutions to make them accountable, capable and more representative.

• Enhance government capacity to deliver services to all corners of the country, especially areas prone to terrorist infiltration. All Afghans have not yet benefited from the peace dividends; some still lack personal and social security.

• Eliminate warlordism, corruption, nepotism, rule of guns and abuse of power that undermine our recovery process.

To overcome these challenges:

• We need the robust and immediate support of the international community, especially United States and the NATO to provide resources and troops to enhance security.

• We have asked for the expansion, increase and immediate deployment of ISAF and NATO. We welcome the commitment made in NATO, and looking forward to its full implementation.

• We need to expedite the process of building our national army and professional police force.

• We need the US support to implement the DDR before the parliamentary election. We welcome the international community’s support for decisive actions taken by President Karzai against individuals and elements that are impediment to the implementation of DDR process. We can not build a civil society in Afghanistan as long as guns rule.

• We need to fight narcotics, which pose a serious challenge for all of us. It goes hand in hand with terrorism and warlordism. It is to our best national interest to fight them all simultaneously not sequentially. We welcome recent policy enhancements at the Department of Defense to make the fight against drugs part of the fight against terrorism. We must mobilize all our resources. We know Afghanistan’s heroin is a source of the illegal money that funds international terrorism and crimes across the region, and the destabilizing activities of warlords and criminals in Afghanistan.

• Our people deeply appreciate and genuinely believe in engagement with the US and the international community. The world has found a genuine strategic partner in our President

• The Afghan people have put their trust on the benefits of international partnership. In this crucial time the international community must deliver fast and demonstrate that this trust is not misplaced.

Thank you.