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Recovery & Reconstruction: Achievements and Opportunities
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad

2003 Afghanistan America Summit on Recovery and Reconstruction

Thank you very much Madam Under Secretary for your kind words.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just a few months ego, a girls’ school in province of Logar, south of Kabul, was set on fire by terrorists. The Moghul Khail School, consisting of two large tents, was set ablaze at midnight. The next day, every little girl, every student of Mughul Khail showed up at the school. They sat next to the ashes of their burned out class rooms, under the blazing sun, and insisted on continuing with their lessons. This is the spirit of the Afghan people, ladies and gentlemen.

Afghans are determined to rebuild their country and President Karzai and the Afghan government are committed to work with the United States of America and the international community to further reinforce peace and stability in Afghanistan. We need your sustained engagement to completely root out terrorism from Afghanistan. Our people value the close cooperation and cherish the enduring partnership forged between our nations. As Afghan Ambassador, I am honored to start my mission in such an environment of mutual trust and friendship, and I hope to contribute to further strengthen our partnership.

The bedrock of our friendship is our common interest to secure complete victory over terrorism, as a menace to humanity. To make Afghanistan, the region and the world a safer place. The basis of our partnership is our shared vision of building a constitutional state that guarantees the safety, security and civil liberties of its citizens, promotes prosperity, democracy, women’s rights, rule of law and self sufficiency. We have just achieved yet another significant milestone toward realizing this vision. The first draft of the constitution, after broad consultation with the Afghan people, has been released. Furthermore, political parties’ laws are adopted; parties and civic organizations are being formed, and our elections commission is preparing the ground for the general election in next summer under the United Nations auspices.

Since President Karzai’s historic visit to Georgetown University in July of last year, Afghanistan has achieved many milestones. Today, tangible results of reconstruction and infrastructure building are visible throughout the country. Roads are repaired and refugees have returned at record number. Almost 4.2 million children, about 40 percent of whom are girls, are going to school. Millions of textbooks are published. We have rebuilt 20% of our schools. However, 70% of the existing schools in Afghanistan need major repairs; and 2,500 additional schools must be built. Today, only 29% of schools are housed in buildings. The Moghul Khail school consisted of two large tents.

Our aim is to reach every Afghan, to empower the people through reconstruction, and to create an environment conducive to private sector growth. Afghanistan is open to business, and we would like to see a higher degree of investment in the priority areas of housing, road building, transportation, telecommunications, mining, building small dams, power generation and urban development. Lack of clean drinking water is a serious problem. Water resources are inadequate in major cities, and in rural areas, less than 20 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water.

The most fundamental demand of the Afghans people remains security. We need assistance in enhancing capacity to secure our borders; to prevent cross border infiltration by terrorists; to provide security to the little girls of Moghul Khail School. Our fight against drug production and trafficking continues. We see a direct connection between, terrorism, narcotics and warlordism. It is in our absolute national interest to fight them all. We need financial resources to strengthen our law enforcement capacity, and to implement forced eradication plans.

The newly formed Afghan National Army and the National Police Force are gradually assuming their roles in maintaining security. National police forces are being trained in the capital and a number of provinces. Expansion of ISAF and Provincial Reconstruction Teams are very much welcomed by the Afghan people. These processes must be further expedited. The demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants has begun. The Ministry of Defence has undergone a complete restructuring to transform it into a more effective national institution. The economic growth rate is estimated to reach 30% this year. To sustain and expedite these processes, the people of Afghanistan collectively call for continued partnership with, and sustained engagement by the United States of America. As President Karzai indicated, Afghanistan is a model of cooperation of civilizations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are grateful for the additional funding provided to Afghanistan under the Accelerated Success Program. However, further assistance is needed to expedite the nationwide process of reconstruction, establishing good governance, and building national institutions. We are very grateful for the solid bipartisan support that our country receives from the United States Congress, and pleased to see that on our way to recovery we have great friends at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. I look forward to working closely with the great friends of Afghanistan on the Hill.

I would like to express my gratitude to Georgetown University for hosting this historic summit. Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and I would like to convey my gratitude to all US and coalition forces soldiers, who are fighting terrorists, or helping to rebuild schools, as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, giving new hopes, and standing by the brave girls of the Moghul Khail School.

Thank you, Mr. President.