News

Press Release- 19/06/2013

His Excellency Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal Minister of Finance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is visiting Australia as a Guest of the Australian Government from 19 to 22 June 2013. During his visit, Dr. Zakhilwal is meeting the Honourable Wayne Swan MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Honorable Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Julie Bishop MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and other high level official of the Australian Government. Dr. Zakhilwal will also interact with the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade. The committee has recently reviewed Australia’s overseas development program in Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Australia signed a Comprehensive Long-Term Partnership in May 2012. The two countries also singed a separate Memorandum of Understanding on Development Cooperation for Afghanistan in July 2012. Dr. Zakhilwal is a senior ranking member of the Afghan cabinet. He has been the Minister of Finance since March 2009 and Chief Economic Advisor to the President since July 2008. He holds a PhD in Economics from Carleton University in Ottawa Canada.

Transcript of Remarks Delivered by President Karzai at the 10TH US-Islamic World Forum

June 9, 2013 Doha, Qatar Introduction: Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen! President Karzai is someone who needs no introduction especially to this audience, but he has earned one. He is of course the 12th President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He was first elected as chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban on December fifth, 2001 and subsequently confirmed by a Loya Jirga. In 2004, he was elected President and in 2009 he was re-elected President of Afghanistan. His friend, United States ambassador there, Ryan Crocker, once said that President Karzai has the hardest job in the world. I could add that it is probably the most [inaudible] job in the world and he has done it for eleven years and now he is preparing the ground for what in politics could be an even harder job ensuring the peaceful transition of power in a young but vibrant democracy. Despite all the difficulties, President Karzai has presided over the building and training of an afghan security force which is now leading the fight against the Taliban throughout the country. Under President Karzai’s leadership, the Afghan economy has been growing at some 8 percent a year, something that we in the United States are jealous about. He has created circumstances in which the next generation of Afghans are showing remarkable talent and promise as they raised positions of government and private sector. He has presided over an multi-ethnic cabinet and through his leadership, Afghanistan has avoided the kinds of sectarian tensions vividly noticeable in other parts of the greater Middle East, so today, thanks to his leadership, nine million afghan children are in school, compared to less than half a million when he took power in 2001 and 40 percent of them are girls, President Karzai! I want to give you a personal anecdote about some of those girls that you made it possible for them to get an education. Under one of those State Department programs that Secretary Sonenshine was just referring to just now, my fiancé and I have been hosting two afghan girls as they complete their secondary education and for two years we have had the pleasure of learning about them and their lives in Afghanistan, Masheed and Azada. I just attended Masheed’s graduation from high school and she is on her way back to Afghanistan and she has an internship there and she has put together a library of five thousand books which we are helping her transport to Kabul where she and her brother are going to open the first English language public lending library in Afghanistan. This is just one example of a credible female talent that you have helped sponsor in your own country. When I told Masheed and Azada that I would have the pleasure of introducing you tonight, they said please thank the President on our behalf and said please ask him to promise that the opportunity for education for girls like us will never be taken away from the girls of Afghanistan again. I told them that I am quite sure you would make that commitment on the basis of the leadership that you have already shown. President Karzai! Thank you for honoring us with your presence here for the second time of the US-Islamic world forum. Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan President Karzai: بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم Your Excellency deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, Excellency secretary General of OIC, excellencies, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen! Asalam u Alaikum Thank you very much ambassador Indyk for your introduction to this meeting and for your introduction of Afghanistan and for sharing with us your excellent, excellent story of looking after two young Afghan girls, educating themselves in the United States and for the further good news that one of them will be returning to Afghanistan with bringing herself and her books to the country. Thank you very much This is the 10 forum of the US and the Islamic World. I was previously here some years ago, three, four years ago, it is very important for us to recognize His Highness the Emir of Qatar for his contribution and for hosting us all here and for making such events possible in Qatar. It is becoming a place for international get-togethers, good for Qatar and its people and good also for the Muslim world. Well, ladies and gentlemen! The US and the Islamic World is a very vast subject, from the Muslim feelings on the issue of Palestine and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood, to the current problems of the Muslim world, and to the fog blurring quite often the view of the West of the Muslim world in the name of radicalism among Muslims. We are talking of a very vast indeed sensitive subject. My job today is to speak more about Afghanistan, but the importance of the subject will also bring me to other issues between the Muslim world and the United States or in other words the West. A Colonial rule of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries continuing into the twentieth century, the legacy that it left behind and the mantle taken over from Great Britain by the United States after the Second World War, brought the United States in close contact with the Muslim World and this close contact has been affected by Palestine in the first place and the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the first place and as the Muslims continued to struggle for that state in Palestine with many events across the World in between, the Muslim World and the United States and the West came across suddenly with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States and the West helped the Afghan resistance. The Afghan resistance was indeed the resistance of the Afghan people against an invading power to protect our values, to protect our independence and to protect our religion. In this struggle between us the afghan people and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, both sides, the Soviet Union and the West, countries in our neighborhood and some of the Muslim countries tried to help their allies by super imposing on them the values that they thought were important for them. The Soviet Union tried to impose communism on a deeply believing Muslim people, on a deeply religious people, profoundly religious people, strong believers, the United States, the rest of the Western world and our neighbors tried to impose on our resistance against the Soviet Union, radicalism, the more radical we looked and talked, the more Mujahid we were called, the consequence of that was a massive effort towards uprooting Afghan traditional values and culture and tolerance. When the Mujahidin succeeded, the next day as we arrived in Kabul in the form of the mujahidin government, the United States and Europe closed their embassies and left and we were left to the wishes of our neighbors and those around. That brought us to the tragedy of September 11, and the destruction of twin towers and the attack on America and thus the return of the United States and NATO to Afghanistan. As ambassador Indyk indicated, indeed with the arrival of the United States and the West, the Afghan people felt liberated and gave a strong helping hand to this new arrival in Afghanistan. The consequence of that working together was the liberation of Afghanistan in less than a month and half and subsequent to that Afghanistan leaped forward in brining democracy, a massive free media, a flourishing of education as ambassador correctly indicated, 9 million children 40 percent of it women, 150 thousand students in our universities, more than 10 thousand studying abroad. In 2001, 2002 when we created our new government, Afghanistan had in name about one, two to three universities. Today Afghanistan has more than twenty public universities, and more than 30 private universities and institutions of learning, you know the story of the media, you know the story of the economy and you know all that, for which the Afghan people are indeed grateful to the US, to our western allies, to our brothers and sisters in the Muslim World as well. This is one side of the story, the other side of the story, the war on terror as it began in 2001 and as it moved forward till today has not been a happy one, has not been a happy story for us in Afghanistan or the region or indeed in the consequences of it beyond Afghanistan into Africa and elsewhere and the subject on which I have engaged President Obama and the Western leaders very often and the subject is, have we succeeded in the war on terror, have we found a definition for terrorism? Who is terrorist? Was terrorism to be found in afghan villages and homes? Did we address the sanctuaries of terrorism? and by waging this war on terrorism, have we brought less radicalism in the Muslim World or have we caused more radicalism in the Muslim World? The argument is definitely that the Muslim world has seen more radicalism, from Pakistan and Afghanistan, all the way today to Mali and Nigeria, is this unintended consequence of the war on terror as some would argue, or was this intended by the United States and the West as some others would argue? Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, the subject of the Islamic World and US is one of immense importance to the relationship, not only of the United States and the Muslim world but to the whole world. In my view, the West as led by the United States needs to explain itself to the Muslim world. Has the United States given an impression to the Muslims of impartiality in the issue of Israel and Palestine? No! Do the Muslims want Israel to go away? No! I, as a Muslim, would not want that. I want Israel and its people to live as much as a state and as a people as everybody else but I also want the same right for the Palestinian people, that the Palestinian people should live like the Israel people in peace and prosperity and have a state of their own. Has the United States and its Western allies clearly, in a manner of a clear vision, explained this to the Arab world and beyond that to the Muslim world? Is this the desire in the West to achieve? If it is, then the explanation has not been right! Is the war on terror really against terrorism? If it is, and if it has caused more radicalism among the Muslims, especially among the youth, then something has gone wrong. Have we implemented it correctly? These questions must be answered, and if there is an increasing view among the youth in the Muslim world that radicalism is actively promoted by the West, the question is why and for what purpose? If this is not the intention of the West, then the West has to explain to the Muslim world if things have gone wrong, then the corrective course for actions must be taken. If we in the Muslim world are wrong about our perception of what the Western intention is in the Muslim world, then it is for the Western world to explain to us their intentions and objectives. Today as we speak, the Muslim world is in turmoil from Pakistan upto Nigeria. Is this all the fault of the Muslims, the radicalism that we have? is this because of the injustice, bad governance and all other factors, or do we have external elements playing in it? The Arab spring for example, well , we all were happy about this, just yesterday we had twenty eight Libyans killed, by those who brought about the Arab spring, Is this what we want, is this what the Arabs or the Libyans want? Is it not the repetition of the story in Afghanistan after we succeeded in defeating the Soviet Union but failed to create a government and stability? So, ladies and gentlemen, in my view and of the experience that I gained in the past eleven years, there is much that we the Muslims have to correct in our own societies and governments by educating ourselves better, by learning how to adopt to the changing environment, by showing more tolerance towards the rest of the world , to other religions but there is also a great deal of the explanation , especially of good intentions by our Western friends and by the United States that today they are not looking to the Muslim world from the perspective of the colonial era, and that they wish the Muslim world well, and that this changed relationship will be one in which mutual interests will be kept in mind that it is inevitable in today’s world, and that we seek to understand one another, that we all have the right to good life, that we share the world together, and that without that broad understanding on a proper sharing of resources and knowledge and prosperity that none of us will eventually do well, as we have to explain ourselves to the West in terms of our views and tolerance, I believe the United States and the Western world have plenty to do towards us because today they are a bigger power, they have more responsibilities and they have greater impact. So from Palestine and the aspiration of its people to the wellbeing of the Muslims around the world and to us working together, to removing the causes of radicalism in Muslim societies and to correcting Islamophobia in the West , there is plenty for us and to you around, I cannot speak for all, but as a single Muslim person, I assure the West that we recognize and respect their values and their immense scientific progress, their immense ability to do good things which they have done, Mother Teresa is an example of a Western person, of a Christian person who went to India and became a servant to the masses of India - Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist , everyone , that example could be given in different ways by the Western world to us and we must replicate it. Thank you very much!