Text of President Karzai’s speech in India-II

12 Oct

Subsequent to that, from 2001, Afghanistan began to re-emerge as a country for all Afghans, while before that whoever was the government claimed total ownership of Afghanistan. If it was the Communists they said all is ours, if it was the mujahideen parties who came they fought among themselves and brought ruin to themselves and to the country and the Taliban of course were totally exclusionists. The Afghanistan of today is the Afghanistan in which all Afghans find their place. It is a place for all Afghans. So, that is the greatest achievement of the past decade of work.

In this decade we began not only to make Afghanistan once again the home for all Afghans but also to bring back to Afghanistan the repair of the destruction of the two 11:37 PM 10/10/2011previous decades. Bring back a civil service, bring back an economic recovery, bring back the build up of the institutions, bring back democracy, bring a constitution and most important of all the return of women to the Afghan polity and work place and education. I will come back to India in this connection later on but before I go further I would like to once again make a note of thanks to the people of India for having participated in every aspect of this rebuilding of this country. In every aspect, from democracy, institution building, to education, to highways, to transmission lines for power generation, for electricity, to the thousands of scholarships to the very well spent, nearly 2 billion dollars of assistance in our country. So, thank you very much and I will return to the subject later on.

This is what we achieved. But this achievement of Afghanistan came in spite of all the obstacles and odds. The war machinery against Afghanistan, terrorism, extremism did not stop, those who came from the rest of the world to help us, their financial contributions mattered greatly but also their presence in Afghanistan brought the unintended consequences of parallel structures, private security firms and all other activities that caused an impediment to the growth of the Afghan state. So, Afghanistan has grown to where it is today where we have nearly 70,000 students in our universities, nearly 7.5 million children in our schools, and a massively free press where you can’t imagine in India because India is too focused on its own as far as the media is concerned. You don’t look beyond India. When you look beyond India into the region the Afghan press is perhaps as vibrant, if not as entrenched in culture of media freedom as India is but it is as vibrant and as abusive of the government as yours. This is a significant achievement and we will continue with it and I will come to the vision part of it later on.

In this whole exercise for the rebuilding of Afghanistan, as I referred to in my remarks earlier, India as it was a contributor in the past, became even more of a significant contributor in the past 10 years. It never said no to any of Afghanistan’s requests. It fulfilled. When I asked Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for more scholarships, he said yes. When I asked Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before him for roads, he said yes. The two governments that I have seen since my presidency in Afghanistan have given us all that we wanted.

Yesterday, we signed a strategic partnership agreement. It is nothing new by the way. We have been engaged in strategic partnership cooperation for the last many years. When you gave us 2000 scholarships, that is strategic. That is extremely strategic when you train our youth in your universities. When you built a brand new road from the southwest of Afghanistan to the west of Afghanistan, the Zaranj-Delaram road, that brings a massive change to trade and transit and the livelihood of people that is strategic. When you build the transmission lines from northern Afghanistan to the capital of the country and beyond, that is strategic. When you build the parliament of the country, that is strategic. When you give us 2.5 billion dollars, that is strategic. So, yesterday we put in words and signed the strategic cooperation that we have had and this will now encompass security, capacity building, economic activity further in the mineral capacity building and exploration and in oil and gas and all other fields. So, taking this occasion, thank you very much India for what you have done for us and surely the Afghans will not only not forget this but will remain grateful forever for what India has done for us today and for this very important step that we took to formalise this relationship yesterday.

As I mentioned earlier, Afghanistan’s rebuilding effort concentrated on all the aspects of our life. I mentioned briefly the obstacles that we faced. In order to give you a picture of these obstacles in a little more detail, and then to take a step further into the peace building efforts and to the transition, I would like to tell you that in the past 10 years as we were building schools the terrorists were coming and burning our schools. As we were building the traditional society of Afghanistan bringing back life to the political culture of the country, the terrorists and those from outside were killing our leaders, national leaders to community leaders to local leaders. As we were building mosques and Islamic institutions, our Ulema were being killed and maimed and muted. As we were training teachers, our teachers were being killed and intimidated. As we were building health institutions, doctors were killed and clinics destroyed. Hundreds of community leaders have been killed. Thousands of police and soldiers have been killed. Thousands of our civilians have lost life to various forms of violence. Hundreds of schools were shut down or destroyed. The roads that we built were damaged again by violence and terrorism. So, where Afghanistan stands today, a country where in 2001, in 2002 rather, where we had an income per capita of 150 dollars, today we stand at 600 dollars; where we had a GDP of 3 billion dollars, today we stand at perhaps close to 18 billion dollars, above 17 billion dollars; where we had a foreign reserve of a mere 180 to 200 million dollars, we stand nearly 6 billion dollars today; when we had no schools, in spite of the violence we have thousands of schools; where we have no advancement in any other part of the country or areas of development, Afghanistan stands good and solid; where Afghanistan was totally taken by polio and malaria, and mother and child mortality, Afghanistan has done magnificently well, in that Afghanistan has received the appreciation of the United Nations in this fight against polio and the mother and child mortality rates which have come down considerably. But where Afghanistan has not succeeded is to bring security to its people. Where Afghanistan has not succeeded is bring peace to its people. Where the international community, Nato and the United States have failed in bringing peace and stability to the country.

What is the reason for that is the most important question for us all. Because it is not only Afghanistan that suffers. Afghanistan suffers a lot more but so does India in the hands of terrorism, so does Pakistan in the hands of terrorism. Pakistan suffers more today than we do in Afghanistan, much more. Just yesterday there were 13 people killed in Quetta in some form of sectarian killing. In the beginning, from 2002 to 2005-06, I was highly vocal in condemning violent activities as we felt was coming from across the border into Afghanistan. But when I saw that Pakistan too was beginning to suffer in a very serious way from extremism and radicalism and the consequences of that in terms of violence and the loss of life for the people of Pakistan, I began to change my attitude and my rhetoric. Since then, from 2005-06, ladies and gentlemen, no government in Afghanistan, no government in Afghanistan, since the creation of Pakistan 64 years ago, has engaged as extensively and with strong focus and I and my government have done, by launching a peace process with the Taliban and by engaging directly and very sincerely and very brotherly with our brothers in Pakistan.

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