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Remarks by Said T. Jawad

Chairman of Foundation for Afghanistan

 

An Evening with Khaled Hosseini, hosted by the women & girls fund of the mid-shore

Building Human Capital


October 22, 2010

 

(Good evening! Thank you for the kind introduction.)

 

Dr. Khaled Hosseini, Ms. Kimberly Dozier, Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

I would like to thank The Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore for convening this forum. I would like to recognize the outstanding work of Khaled Hosseini, Nashim Arabzadah and Shamila Kohistani for bringing humanity together. I am honored to share the stage with these distinguished panelists.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

Every time that I return to Afghanistan I realize that the scarcity of human capital is still a roadblock in Afghan-led sustainable development. I believe restoring Afghanistan’s human and social capital through educational and skill development exchanges 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 for Afghanistan provides renewed opportunities to further strengthen Afghan capacity and responsibility. Afghanistan’s future success is contingent on education and capacity building. We should work collectively 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

 

More projects are needed to 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 we should 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.

 

There are programs that will need to help facilitate the return of qualified Afghans, both in the U.S. and Europe, to Afghanistan to remedy the shortage of human capital. We must expand existing student exchange programs to bring in more Afghan students and faculty to study and research in the United States. We should provide scholarships for capable Afghans in qualified Afghan private universities such as the American University of Afghanistan as well as Kabul University. The Ayenda Foundation and the Khaled Hosseini Foundation are doing this. 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.

 

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.

 

We need to 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.

 

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.

 

Thank you.