Translation of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks at the Inauguration Ceremony of Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Your Excellency Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the friendly and esteemed India,
I sincerely welcome you and your accompanying delegation to your second home, Afghanistan, especially in the historic province of Herat; allow me to thank you on behalf of the people of Afghanistan, people of Herat, and residents of Chisht-e-Sharif. I present my profound gratitude to you, to the compassionate people and competent government of India, especially on behalf of my people who will have their homes illuminated by the light of the Afghan-India Friendship Dam and their lands greened with its water. Today, with your help, an old dream of our people is realized after more than 40 years of waiting. Thank you!
Let me send prayers and blessings upon the soul of late President Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan who more than forty years ago laid the foundation for this magnificent dam so that Afghans after him live in prosperity. Let me also send prayers upon the souls of each one of the soldiers, officers and engineers who sacrificed their lives, so that today we stand witness to the completion of this grand project; and I thank all the caring officials whose efforts have born fruit today.
Here, I would like to thank Mr. Mohammad Ismail Khan who, going back to his years serving as the Governor of Herat, entertained this hope as well as Dr. Humayoon Qayomi, Eng. Ali Ahmad Usmani who along with his hardworking colleagues in the Ministry of Energy and Water had a vital role in bringing this project to fruition.
Chisht-e-Sharif has 600-year old ties with Agra and Delhi. The Shrine of Khwaja Nizamudin is still open to peoples of all faiths. Jalaluddin Akbar, Mughal-Azzam, the reformist king of India, had taken inspiration on his ways and customs from the Chishtia Order. It is the necessity of our time that the Chishtia, Naqshbandia, Qadria, Saharwardia and other Urfani schools of thoughts are cared for, so that the peaceful nature of our religion reveals it shining truth, through the dust and fog created by extremists.
Afghanistan and India have long and continued relations and today millions of ties bind our nations together. Since 10century (lunar Hijri), Herat has been destroyed eight times but each time, it has risen above the ruins, proudly standing before history with unwavering determination. Herat is the cradle of culture, knowledge, wisdom and civilization. Masters like Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Peer Herat, Khwaja Mohaiodeen Chishti and Khwaja Qutbuddin Mawdud Chishti, the great carriers of knowledge and pioneers of Chishtia order as well as Mawlana Abdul Rahman Jami, the renowned poet and mystic of Naqshebandia Order, Imam Fakhruddin Razi, great prolocutor of Islam, and hundreds of masters of thought and literature have been brought up in the caring lap of this country; they have lived under its cool shade or found comfort in its warm arms.
Herat, with its ancient history and knowledge, art and literature-nurturing people, encapsulates yesterday’s and today’s Afghanistan, showing a broad horizon towards the tomorrow of this country.
Herat has been one of the great centers of Urfan in our history. Urfan and Tassawuf (mysticism) is one of the dozens of broad areas that connect Afghanistan and India. Architectural beauties, artistic creations by creative painters and calligraphers of Herat, Kabul, Balkh and Kabul, in different eras, and their pleasant affinities to the artistic beauties of India, is another sign of inspiration from one spiritual source and illumination by one source of light. The music and melodies by artists of both countries, emitting joy and bliss, are all signs of the coming together of great human talents in an exalted realm where colors turn colorless, separations give way to unions, and differences become similitudes.
Our relationship with India has various aspects. In the past, our cities had gates named after cities in India. We have a popularly acclaimed style in literature called Hindi. The prominent face of this style is Abdul Qadir Bedil, the renowned Arif (mystic) and poet of Delhi School, the person whom to this day Afghan poets and scholars look up to as a standard-bearer in poetic style and understanding of high concepts. In politics, our quests for independence and freedom have influenced each other. Also, the first Indian Government in Exile was formed in Afghanistan, and reformist movements of Afghanistan after the 1940s were inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Abdul Kalam Azad.
In the same way as our ancestors strove and managed to fulfill their great missions, despite the difficult times, to keep the torch of knowledge alight, the garden of wisdom watered, the spring of spirituality ebullient, and to pave the path for their offspring to reach high human life, we too have come together today to celebrate an auspicious occasion of cooperation between the two countries, to renew the ancient covenant, to keep this great heritage alive and to eternalize these enduring ties.
The assistance of the people and government of India in constructing this splendid dam in Chisht-e-Sharif restitutes the ancient ties of Herat and India; it also further strengthens today’s ties between our two countries on the level of nations and states.
Therefore, this dam, in addition to its vital function of bringing light, joy and hope to the homes of thousands of Afghans in the area, also has a symbolic role in charting a new course that is the need of the world and region in the twenty first century: (that is) the course of cooperation for prosperity, for better utilization of natural resources, for better protection and preservation of environment, green spaces and water resources, for leaving behind the days of drought and parched lands, and for putting an end to the sufferings of men and women struck by adversity.
This means that we can partake in spreading hope, light and sincerity, not fear, intimidation and ignorance; I mean, saying goodbye to obsolete policies inherited from the past, especially the cold war era, and opening a new page in history for this region, a page of harmony, compassion and solidarity, a page of peace, reconciliation and toleration.
That is why we are immensely thankful to India for presenting to us a new model whose essence is constructiveness, cooperation and participation in spreading prosperity. It is for this reason that today the name of India in our country and region brings back sweet, historic and cherished memories. The people of Afghanistan see today’s India through the prism of the beautiful and splendid parliament building a meaningful and exquisite gift from the largest democracy of the world to our young democracy. Our people identify India with Delaram-Zaranj highway that is a connecting route for development of businesses and commerce in our parts of the country that had remained deprived of development; and today they know India through Salma, a source of light and joy for thousands of our families. In addition, India has completed over 200 other small and big projects for our people. With scholarships assistance by India, over 17 thousand Afghan youth were able to acquire education that will undeniably help us sustain the friendly relations between our countries. Today, our youth playing cricket look up to Indian Cricketers as standard-bearers. Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Prime Minister! Today, India means brilliance, greenery and Nirvana for us.
With the inauguration of Afghan-India Friendship Dam, the first generation of large Indian assisted projects is completed, and the hope is to see at the right moment the launch of the second generation of such large and sustainable projects.
We, the two sides, have a firm conviction and resolve that prosperity and progress of each country means the prosperity and progress of the other. As our past history is shared, we have a shared ‘today’ and will have a shared ‘tomorrow’. We fortunately have a common vision to build this shared future. Terrorism is the major cancer in the region where Afghanistan finds itself on the frontline of fighting it. The need of our region is that we come up with a common definition of terrorism and be on the same page and front to fight it; this is the only way for shared prosperity of our nations.
Afghanistan will not be stopped here. We are determined to move forward in spite of the challenges and difficulties. This determination exists in every single son and daughter of this land. It is for this reason that despite the sacrifices by our brave sons and daughters against terrorism and extremism and the heavy cost of war that we have born, with the passing of each day, we take a new step in the direction of development and prosperity. This means that the resolve of our patient nation does not falter in the face of threats and that the torch of hope that is alight in the hearts of our people does not accept to be put out.
Here, I want to give the good news to my people that ‘Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam’ is the prologue to construction of a series of dams that we have undertaken so that our other provinces too have access to electricity, water, food and work. We will manage our water and water resources in accordance with the international laws to prevent floods hitting our homes and people. We also want our waters to reach the heart of our draught-hit deserts, which for years carried the autumnal pain of barrenness.
We are conscious of the difficulty of the path, and we know that destroying is easy and building is difficult. Contrary to those whose main art is destroying and sending messages of destruction, we have taken the difficult responsibility of building prosperity, and we resolutely believe that the front of prosperity triumphs over the front of destruction since building is right and destroying is wrong; hope is right and hopelessness is wrong; seeking peace is right and seeking war is wrong, and we all believe that right triumphs over wrong. Our people’s determination to build a better future is steely. We are not alone on this path. We have divine sanction to build our people’s homes; then, we have support of the world and region with us; and we have beside us peace-loving and pro-prosperity countries like India that feels happy with our happiness and sad with our sadness. We too shall be and remain a partner, in warm and cold days, for those who want prosperity.
Long Live Afghanistan-India Friendship
Long live the green path of building prosperity and cooperation!
Transcript of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks
On the Fifth Wave of Political Violence
In RUSI Whitehall, London
12 May 2016, 17:00
In the name of Gods, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
First of all, let my pay tribute to the 454 British servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let me call upon you to express the deepest gratitude of a grateful nation and a state to their families. Let me also ask you to thank every British veteran who fought with us, who has helped us whether in the military arena or in the civilian.
Britain has been a strategic partner and I am very proud to be here today
Tonight, I’d like to speak about the fifth wave of political violence. Our understanding of how global security and peace are shaped depends on how we grasp this. So, my argument will be in five parts. First, what were the previous waves? The first wave can be dated with Nechayev’s manifesto of a revolutionary, the anarchist wave. The anarchist wave roughly lasted forty years engulfed Europe, brought us the First World War and it was a global phenomenon.
The second wave is the national liberation movements which again spanned roughly three decades. The third was the wave of terrorism in Europe, Japan and the United States following the 68 Stone movement, and of course in the United States, took the form of the Black Panthers and related movements.
The fourth wave started with Sri Lanka that invented the phenomenon of the suicide bomber and traveled across to the Middle East and then to Latin America, etc. Each of these waves shook the foundation of political stability and required distinctive ways of dealing with. What comes out of this is that political violence does not relate or is not owned by a specific culture, religion or geographic space. Any generalization regarding this medium view of history requires careful analysis.
What is it that specific about the fifth wave? A number of characteristics jump. First, criminality and political violence have become organically related. Take the cartels in Mexico or the heroin production in Afghanistan; there is an interrelationship and this is fundamental to grasp because there is a distinctive form of violence that is inflicted on the citizens and that results in erosion of state authority.
Second, networks that previously used to be face-to-face or in small groups now have become face-to-faceless or face-to-Facebook. It is a distinctive form of mobilization that brings rapid utility of information and orientation of people. Recruitment is extraordinarily effective and replication of cells does not depend on central authority.
Thirdly, the space of operation is global whether it is Kabul, Brussels, Paris or London after July or events in the United States. There is an interlinked series of phenomena. The other point about this is probably one of the well-financed movements in history. Related to this, and if we have related it to the previous things, absence of rules of the game between states and state willingness; the willingness of some states to sponsor non-state actors is fundamental initially to its operation. They have posed a threat to state authority but the rapidity of networks puts our inherited bureaucracies and stretches them. Simultaneously, they thrive on weak states. Weak or failing states are the natural harboring phenomena. But the other thing that manifested itself, of course with Daesh and earlier continues with Taliban is attempt at state capture because except for the movements of national liberation that focused on state capture, the other movements were about undermining state authority. Here, there is a very distinctive phenomenon. And, last, and of course needs to be mentioned, is its distinctive affiliation with invoking and hijacking a great religion and a great culture.
How do they operate? Counter-insurgency was the rage in early 2000s but the insurgency literature; I would argue and in certain understanding of insurgency, is cumulative and much more incorporative. From Nechayev to Usama Bin Laden, you can draw a straight line and to the current thinkers of Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The degree of knowledge regarding previous counter-insurgency movements is incredibly high. You are not dealing with an enemy that does not know its enemy. But by contrast, we do not understand the phenomena sufficiently. So both in terms of theories and in terms of techniques and practices, there is a great deal of continuity. But simultaneously there is a great deal of innovation. Where the innovation comes is first in techniques of communication. In terms of network theory, you can see all people who have worked on the phenomenon would argue that they’re surprised by the theory of networks. Sometimes four to five stages of network formation have been passed in a single year or two. And, the use of media is fundamental.
Why do they attack cities? Why do they attack airlines? Why do they attack public spaces? Because, fundamentally what is under attack is the compact between the citizen and the state. The great achievement of the modern state has been its compact with the citizenry; freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship and democracies, and those values are precisely what are attacked. Fear is what the objective is. Inflicting fear, producing fear in a systematic manner, ensuring that we live narrow lives that affect the bond of trust between citizen and citizen and state and state. You don’t need further evidence; look at previously open borders in Europe and now the number of controls that have been brought in. look at what we take daily in any airport and accept it. What we did not accept under exceptional circumstance, now we willingly accept. And, that is precisely the environment. So here, particularly with Daesh that has refined the technique, infliction of pain for the sake of pain is not the objective; the spectacle of the theater of violence is critical to achieving this objective. They do not kill six-month-old (babies) or 90-year-olds, just for that sake, it is to awe, over populations, to ensure that the reflection of violence can destroy our will.
Now in terms of, if I am correct about the description of this, then we need a right understanding and action at four levels; global, regional, Islamic and national levels. Why do we need global understanding? Because if the threat is medium-term, then we need to muster the right time horizon and the right alignment. Our understanding has been reactive, not proactive, because of that, our actions at the global level have been sporadic rather than sustained. Sustained understanding requires different time horizons and the global politics is not oriented towards medium time horizons, but this phenomenon like the other threats to global peace and security requires a medium-term understanding.
Second, some regions of the world are a lot more exposed than others; my country being one of those. Who fights in my country? First,…. you know I was in Ufa in Russia when President Putin was hosting both the BRIC Summit and the Shanghai meeting and there was talk as if Afghanistan was not in the room. So, I posed the question and said, ‘Who fights in my country?’ Chinese, ATIM, Chechens, Uzbeks from Uzbekistan, Tajiks from Tajikistan even the odd Kirgiz and Kazakh, but the greatest one of course is a huge movement from Pakistan. Then, of course there are all the rejects of the Arab world that are sent on to us. Can anyone point out an historical precedent or a political framework where people who do not belong to a nation and do not have a quarrel internally in terms of rules of the game that have such heavy presence? And the impact of this, of course, is global because the activities that they engage in threaten all of us. Here, my plea is development of common understanding, I am not saying to take a national perspective, but take a neutral international perspective because it is imperative that we understand the phenomenon. If we don’t understand the phenomenon properly, how can we devise the appropriate means for dealing with them?
But unlike, I was in the Munich Security Conference when I coined the term ‘fifth wave’ and there, there was a feeling of doom. But let me again acknowledge that as far as Afghanistan is concerned, NATO is alive and well, and their alliance is delivering. There is no combat role for NATO in Afghanistan but our armed forces have fully fulfilled the departure of 135,000 NATO-ISAF troops and the accompanying 600,000 contractors. This needs to be appreciated in terms of the context, but it also needs to be appreciated that, if I am right about the phenomenon, then our partnership needs to have medium and long term horizons and of course the foundation of that is in place, and I’d like to thank President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, Chancellor Merkel, European leaders, Prime Minister Renzi and others for staying with us. Last year, we were operating with nine months as our horizon. And it took enormous political courage by these leaders to make the argument that it was worth staying with us and I hope that our people’s sacrifice, the great sacrifice that our armed forces and our people have done shows that our partnership is indeed enduring one.
Second one is at the regional level. The region of course is a concept; it is not a geography; but here we have a fundamental problem; in the South, Central Asia, West Asia region, what is fundamentally missing are rules of the game defining a system like the Westphalian state. States in this part of the world unfortunately feel inclined to both sponsor malign non-state actors and even to use some of their own organizations behaving as malign actors. This is a fundamentally lose-lose proposition. Anyone who believes that terrorism can be classified as good or bad needs to rethink the fundamental assumptions because within that if the other waves are indicators, the extent of suffering needs to be appreciated. There is a fantastic book called Asleep Walkers about World War 1, and it shows what state sponsorship of terrorist activity by Serbia did to the whole world. One needs to be reminded to act on lessons of history and not just mention them.
The third level is Islamic. Because the phenomenon is being put in terms of abuse of the fundamental understanding in history of this great culture and civilization to which I am proud to belong, we need to speak back and regain the narrative. Important step was taken last year in 2015 in Makkah where declaration on definition of terrorism and the weaknesses of the Islamic World were described; acting on those and making sure that the narrative is not left to a tiny tiny minority, I think, becomes fundamental to the dialogue and understanding of civilizations and the integrated global world that we live.
The other level is national. But the national level of course is embedded in these others. Here, what is fundamental is national ownership. We are proud not to be engaging in blame games but to own our problems. What are some of those? If you take the poverty line to be $2 a day, 70% of our population is below that line. If you take it to be $1.25, 39% of our population is below that line. Corruption is not a symptom; corruption is an enabler for terror, for political violence, because what is critical in the struggle against corruption and has been proved in time and again is effectiveness of the state but not an authoritarian state. You have to have a citizen-focused state. Our discussion is many folded. The two young men who were here are actually protesting about a transmission line. I am actually very proud of them because in the midst of a war for survival, we still take debates on infrastructure extraordinarily seriously. I thanked them the other day when I was leaving for engaging in a discussion on infrastructure. The decisions on the project were made in 2013, a decision was made to pass the transmission line through the Salang pass rather than Bamiyan valley. It was the wrong decision at the time but meanwhile three years of work have gone to prepare the Salang pass. Six million people will benefit from this transmission line compared to 100,000 from the alternative; but you have to take young men seriously and I appreciate their anger because if you don’t have the tolerance for people’s legitimate anger, you cannot guide a state or guide the destiny of a nation.
We have inherited many things but corruption is probably the most significant. This is a national shame as is our mortality, the mortality rate of our women. We have halved the mortality rate of women but it is still one of the highest in the world.
What is our tragedy? Our tragedy is that we are potentially one of the richest countries in the region and yet inhabited by extraordinarily poor people. This means that corruption needs to be rephrased, not as abuse of public office for private gain but as forms of capture.
There are four forms of capture that are fundamental to the challenge that we face. First is the capture of institutions; patronage, bribery is made a mockery of formal institutions. Second is economic capture; over 500,000 acres of land alone, public land, have been seized by small number of individuals. Public assets have been disposed of as though there were no tomorrow. The third form of capture is capture of security; monopoly, legitimate monopoly of force that is key characteristic of the state has not been accomplished because there are many groups and individuals that continue to use the threat of force to deprive others, to prevent them from a dialogue; because of that skins are thin. And the fourth form of capture is political capture; politics becomes a zero sum game of competing claims without the arbitration. In this kind of situation, what is really important now is to think back. If effective states are key to enabling us in global, regional and Islamic level cooperation is central to overcoming this phenomena, then we need to agree on horizons and strategies required to overcome the threats posed by the fifth wave. In terms of time horizon, we cannot operate on a yearly basis, we cannot operate in a reactive basis; we cannot be letting narrative be controlled by their actions. It requires a steady focus and the will to master this threat as previously threats like Nazism, Fascism, other forms that have come have been mustered. In terms of strategies, what is critical is to understand that this is going to be a constantly changing phenomenon. It is not a constant, it is strategic situation. A strategic situation means that there is a large degree of in-built uncertainty into the situation. It is going to constantly morph into other thing and that morphing requires that we both focus on the visible and on the invisible. Daesh has taken all the oxygen. What keeps me awake still is what is Al-Qaeda up to. Is it gone down dark in deep? Is it preparing another surprise? Which is going to be the more enduring phenomenon. What is visible or the dog that did not bark. My English education I hope is paying. And strategies cannot be in terms of static objectives or terrain that is constant. This is going to be a constantly shifting set of phenomena, relationships and therefore we need to have flexibility. That is a challenge to our institutional architecture. Being plodding, being slow, being deliberate has served us well in periods of great global stability. Now it requires fundamental rethinking about how global and regional organizations will work, how our relationships are defined.
One thing is certain. Our fates are interrelated. There are no walls, great or small, that can separate us, so what is required is joining hands, being able to forge those partnerships that can enable us to change lives fundamentally, to ensure that stability is off the order in which participation becomes deeply embedded, where hope is renewed and where trust at all these four levels is re-established. Thank you for giving me the opportunity. I will be delighted to engage you in some discussion.
به اطلاع عموم هم وطنان عزیز مقیم استرالیا و زیلاند جدید رسانیده می شود که اوقات کاری سفارت ج.ا.ا در کنبرا در ایام مبارک رمضان از ساعت ۹:۳۰ صبح الی ۲:۰۰ بعد از ظهر است. اوقات کاری بخش قونسلی از ساعت ۱۰ الی ۱:۰۰ بعد از ظهر می باشد.
The working hours of the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Canberra, during the holy month of Ramadhan is from 09:30 am to 02:00 pm.
Note: the counsellor section will be open every working day from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Transcript of His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks at European Union Conference
“The Way Ahead for Anti-Corruption in Afghanistan”
May 5, 2016
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Ambassador Mellbin, Distinguished Ambassador of UK , Mr. Stanekzai, Members of Cabinet, Members of Parliament! Welcome.
Recognition of a problem is the first step toward generation of political will. I welcome you to the Presidential Palace Complex whose resident has been given a mandate to deal with corruption. The people of Afghanistan elected me because I promised them that I’ll tackle corruption seriously. I invited you here to make sure that both our people and your people understand that there is no disagreement between the international community and the government of Afghanistan regarding tackling this serious issue. The presidency, this palace complex, all of the government must be central to their efforts to understand and eliminate corruption.
I don’t want make the moral case because the case is well-made. The absolute majority of the Afghan people welcome reforms. The obstacle is the inherited system and the set of relationships that in the last fourteen years, particularly in the last fifteen years, we have jointly engendered. So instead of talking about generalities, let me address corruption in the coming months and the actions that we are willing to take. Two months ago, I provided an analytic framework to the ambassadors regarding what drives corruption. Simply put, there are the following drivers:
First, there is institutional capture. The system of appointments has been dominated by prevalence of relations over rules, and that in term is engendering rules of the game that vastly differ from the formal rules. We need to specify the core functions of each government organization and hold and create the mechanisms where the people of this country who are our masters hold the government responsible. This is a deep cultural change because we have inherited a culture of false hierarchy. That culture of false hierarchy makes an official dominate and disregard it. We brought a man from civil society made him deputy minister, and the first thing he did was to beat the police because the police was asking him not to use black film in his car. You see, the issue is not just changing the rules, it is changing behavior.
The second aspect of capture is security. We are extremely grateful for the assistance that we have received, but our security forces do not exercise the monopoly or the legitimate monopoly of force, and until we make sure that the security forces are able to function in that manner and first and foremost are accountable themselves as the largest contracts were in the security sector, our generals got diverted to seeing how they would handle contracts rather than how to manage the war. I want to congratulate Minister Stanekzai for the remarkable job he has done in cleaning Ministry of Defense. Over 80 senior generals have been retired and yesterday again I signed a new batch. But, particularly procurement, and I want to thank Minister Farooqi for his immense work in investigating the procurement. Just one example, Mr. Farooqi argued this on theoretical grounds. One contract for fuel just to supply electricity last year was 1.25 billion; this year the same contractor is bidding 100 – 200 million. You see what the margin is. General Davis to whom I’m grateful for attending to this and the CSTC-A’s partnership. We have saved literally tens of billions of Afs just from cleaning up the contracting of Ministry of Defense but the larger issue is that our citizens are threatened with constant use of illegitimate force. It is not only the terrorist, it is irresponsible armed groups, and the language of violence is a key driver of corruption. A judge who gets to be threatened in one district who refuse state-owned land illegally to a commander was beaten to a pulp. I had the man arrested and brought him to Kabul; he is now under trial. But, this is important that insecurity and our failure yet to consolidate legitimate monopoly of force and (eliminate) corruption within security institutions weakens us. Here, what is fundamental is narcotics as a key driver of corruption. Some of our core institutions that were entrusted with safeguarding citizens’ interests actually are being subverted and it is the networks, and these networks need to be understood.
The third form of capture is economy. Land grab is one illustration of it. Over one million Jeribs of land translating roughly to 300,000 hectares have been grabbed and core to this again was corruption of the courts, corruption of the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice, because there are networks within these. The government lost tens of thousands hectares of land because of collusion, because the government’s case was always argued weakly while private collusion took place to transfer. It is land grab, it is not simply going and grabbing land, it is ensuring that the titles are transferred. Thanks to our reformist Supreme Court Judge, these cases are being reversed and we are going to get back.
And the other form is political capture. Politics has become a means of running the three other forms of capture and sets of relationships that prevail this, because the discourse gets to be subverted and directed towards false set of issues and debate rather than the core issues. Key point: the people of Afghanistan wanted a strong state. A strong state to the people of Afghanistan is the state that is their servant. A state that serves them, a state that provides services, a state that generates growth and jobs. There are certain interests in this country that want weak state institutions because weak state institutions are key to drivers’ survival, and unfortunately in the past, international contractors have been also key to desiring a weak state.
Why was this system created? Huge amounts of money came without the right accountabilities and the kind of advice that was provided was superficial. We dealt with the symptoms rather than with the root causes. Conclusion; we need to deal with the system at systemic level and we need to build. What is the good news? The good news is the people- the absolute majority of the citizens of this country, women, men, particularly the youth, and you do recall that we are the youngest country in terms of age, one of the oldest countries in terms of history, but young in terms of age. The young people don’t want corruption. The women don’t want corruption. Our scholars don’t want corruption. Therefore, we have a golden foundation, but we have to mobilize a systematic effort, because resistance, accusations and subversion need to be really taken seriously.
So, where is political will? Political will is at facing these problems; naming and acknowledging that corruption is our national shame, and we need to address it. Without addressing this, we are not going to have dignity and we will not be able to raise our flag in international meetings and take pride in it because there will always be the shadow. If this diagnosis is correct, and I believe it is, then what do we do?
First, we make the machinery of government function. This both has leadership issues and management issues. Infrastructure ministries. Not a single infrastructure ministry has been taught project and program management skills. Fifteen years of technical assistance, billions of dollars and technical assistance. Show me who has responsibility for which set of projects. I have to go back to my previous days as a facilitator and facilitate this. This is a joint failure. Why is it that people who are paid millions of dollars to design roads failed to design them from satellite imagery and failed to do the ground level reality? We are losing two years in construction because of failure of some of our core partners to do the right supervision. Why is it that eight million dollars are provided for supervision of schools that never got built and yet they were certified as being built? Core functions must be specified partnership, arrangement and accountability really need to be clarified because this is key. We have inherited a system, and some of the rules that are prevalent…We were never an Ottoman colony or from the Ottomans. We have a confusion of rules and regulations. This must be consolidated, and we are very proud that we have focused on consolidation of these rules.
Second, we must end the cycle of impunity. Until now, there has been a perception that anybody in high office has a license to do whatever they want. I am doubling the size of the special crimes task force and they are authorized to investigate both governors, ministers and high-ranking officials. They have a total mandate and right now based on my direct orders they are investigating and we will prosecute. Now they have a prosecutor who has the will to prosecute. Yesterday, a man paid him an enormous compliment, it was the spokesman of Attorney General’s Office; I had a meeting there with all our spokespeople both in the center and the provinces. He said, ‘Mr. Hamidi came alone without an entourage and that’s the type of man we want to come. Welcome Mr. Hamidi, we count on your reforms.
Justice sector is really crucial in this regard. I hope you have seen that now the building blocks of the reforms of the justice sector are in place. First, the Chief Justice, and a second reformist judge was approved by parliament. The third nominee, unfortunately, a brilliant woman, did not make it by votes, but the fourth nominee is the person who runs the narcotic criminal center with total integrity, and I will have a chance to nominate two more people on the Supreme Court and we can assure you that they will be people of integrity and judgment.
The other point that has been taken of course is approval – and I am grateful to parliament – 200 votes of approval for an Attorney General who doesn’t have money or connections. It is a good day for Afghanistan. We hope that this culture becomes more widespread.
Third is, we must stop predatory behavior. Fourth, we have received an inheritance of the past. There are hundreds of files that had been sent to the Attorney General’s Office that had not been acted. We cannot get so busy with the past to forget the now and forget our own accountability. So the Attorney General’s Office and the court system are authorized to classify and make decisions, so a balance between the past and the present and the future, but particularly we are going to be present-oriented. From the day the cabinet and the officials of the government of national unity have been selected, they are accountable and they are prosecutable. And, we must establish this culture, because without that, people will not believe us. I am also willing to submit the presidency to the creation of an ombudsman. If there are any accusations regarding the presidency, I ask the international community to join me to create the best ombudsman office. We do not believe in conflict of interest and because of it, if there are accusations and (these) accusations (are) of part of the anti-reform agenda, let’s have credible mechanisms for dealing with them because it’s important that accusations are dealt with. And, to make sure I invite civil society and the international community to nominate and select an ombudsman.
What have we done so far? I will not give you a laundry list but some key actions. First, we have jailed the two key culprits of the Kabul Bank and Governor Seddiqi who was doing a remarkable job in the bank will tell you not only have we recovered $250 million back the crisis in the banking sector is avoided. Sherlock Holmes; the dog that doesn’t bark needs attention. When I was swearing in, banking could have faced a serious repetition of the previous thing. I personally saw the balance sheet, the ratings, and interviewed every single CEO of the bank and gave them a reform program, and now the Central Bank is seeing this, we believe firmly in the independence of the Central Bank and it is important that the banking sector becomes viable. But, we have avoided crisis now making the banking sector function for the economy rather than for the informal sector is the challenge that governor Seddiqi will preside over.
Second, despite a severe recession bordering on depression, we increased our revenue twenty two percent; that indicates what was the toll that corruption was taking. Twenty five percent of Customs Officers have been fired. The next generation of reforms in the customs are underway, and we hope a series of fundamental changes will occur that will make having a job in customs so undesirable that no one influential would want their kids or their relatives to be placed there, only people with integrity and judgment and in a way to move forward.
Procurement. Mr. Yari has been heading our procurement, and I really want to thank him. He has lost 5 kilos since he took this job while it’s very good for its figure, this is the man who, with a remarkable team, changed the culture of procurement. I have presided over 53 sessions of procurement, I count so. I don’t think in history there is a session that a president and the CEO of a country would have taken this responsibility, seriously. For six months, there was not a single contract that we saw that complied with laws. Now, our sessions are becoming shorter, because compliance is taking place, and I’d like to acknowledge CSTC-A’s contribution and also SIGAR’s and members of parliament; the caucus for integrity are sitting there who are attending as representative, and there is also a representative of the parliament. Result of this; forty five companies have been already blacklisted with at least 11 more in the process of being banned. Interests that are behind these companies. Minister Farooqi did a remarkable job in his investigation of procurement in the Ministry of Defense showing that in most of the contracts, companies that bid actually did not exist. Literally, six companies would bid, four or five of them wouldn’t exist. He traced every single one of these companies, saying is there an office? Is there any establishment? They were (just) names. In other places, there would be post box addresses, but here, thank God, we don’t have post box addresses so they have to have some little room; maybe container.
Third, the Supreme Court. Over 600 judges have been changed. Every single provincial judge in this country was changed. Appellate court judges; 135 that required in the first round my approval, because the Constitution of Afghanistan has a peculiarity; two sets one, theoretically, I am the Chief Judge because it is an Islamic state. So ultimate responsibility comes, that responsibility I delegate to the Chief Judge, but in terms of appointment of top officials, my approval is required. And, secondly another batch came which again over hundred required my approval and three hundred fifty more that required the Chief Justice’s.
The first and second rounds of reforms of the Supreme Court have been completed. Now, we are going to deal with the district level; twenty percent of the prosecutors have been released from their duties. The overwhelming majority of them were graduates of twelfth grade. Can you imagine a country where a significant number of prosecutors who are supposed to know the law and enforce the law are graduates of high school? I interviewed every single judge on the appellate court, and their unanimous judgment was that 80 – 90% of the cases that are submitted to them by prosecutors are legally faulty. And, that’s the job that now Mr. Hamidi and the Chief Justice would deal with.
Public Procurement. I brought you the key in culture because this is the key area. Roughly, twenty percent of the GDP is in government procurement. So the implications of this are immense. We have cleared the top which is formal compliance with the law where in the middle Minister Stanekzai has taken the great step, he’s asked 600 mid-level officials in the Ministry of Defense to declare their assets and he has been focused laser sharp on them, but we need to do the same thing with others. Because the entrenched interest in collusions are at the level of implementation.
Our next task. And, this is the failure of our private sector. We do not have functioning companies. It is not only that we have a weak state, we have a weak market. The weakness of the market institutions are a fundamental block to anti-corruption agenda because the culture previously in the infrastructure was that they would secure the contracts then subcontract them and subcontract them… There are as many as six layers of sub-contracting. And, people who had no business for instance (supplied) food; food business for universities. People who got the contracts specialized in their lines. Back and forth because they were selling contracts ….And we are dealing with it.
Government Financial System; the government financial system is being restructured. Minister Hakimi really needs to be complimented not just for raising the revenue but now for the financial management roadmap. The financial management roadmap is one of the best, and I’d like to acknowledge Australian assistance. This is the best type of assistance that we have gotten, because they have no interest in consulting. Their facilitators; other type of people we have had including companies.
When we created the AFMIS, the first thing was you know; for six months, we had the best then the quality of people declined, because these companies have a number of lead people, they go get the business, start it and then it goes down. And unfortunately, supervision is very weak. But, the type of assistance that we have received from core functioning treasuries; Australia, US, UK and others is really an immense assistance. That is the type of assistance that becomes catalytic because what the financial roadmap is doing it is giving us a clear roadmap where our people own the problem and believe it. There was a culture that we needed to write our documents in English and we have to get out of this culture. If we want ownership, we really have to articulate and write in Uzbeki, Pashto and Dari because that’s a dynamic debate. The key model of this is the Citizen’s Charter. Minster Durrani, Minister Zamir, Minister Firoz and their colleagues have done a remarkable job of debating and discussing, and I was really moved to tears the other day with the conception of the Citizen’s Charter. The next generation of Afghan leaders is in front of you, the torture is being passed and I am delighted. The scope of our colleagues is deeply….of course, I need to acknowledge Minsiter Oriakhel and her colleagues, a culture of inter-ministerial collaboration is taking place. Yesterday, the counter-narcotics center, again as an example of this. So, we are going to reorganize the Auditing Office, we had neither auditing standards nor accounting standards literally. So every company that was giving us an audit did it on their own. I had the misfortune of reading all the audit reports of the telecom sector before my very able colleague Ajmal Ahmadi came and released me of all these things. It is a wonderful addition and his integrity and judgment again needs to be appreciated. Most governments hate their watchdogs. We love working with them, and give power to them and I will give them all the authority that they need to investigate us. But, you make a judgment on the effectiveness or otherwise of AO and let us know, and thereby we’ll decide. What is also important is civil society partnership; Afghan civil society needs to be mobilized and you know what the greatest part of Afghan civil society is? The mosque. Every Friday, there is a referendum across this country in the mosques. The mosques hate corruption, and please we need to mobilize them and Ulema of Afghanistan are going to be extraordinarily important asset in this regard as well.
Now, in terms of moving forward. So, I’d like to make some announcements. First is the High Council on governance, rule of law and anti-corruption. This high council will have the same set of authorities similar to National Security Council, National Economic Council; entry of my very able colleagues, Mr. Roshan, Minister Farooqi, and Nargis Nehan whom you know will be assisting us to put this together and move forward.
What have we done to prepare for this? First is a set of investigations. The famous Farooqi report that you are all asking to be released will be decided upon to be released; the Roshan report that you don’t know about airport is going to be released, and we have investigated all the properties that have been rented by the government and it is a scandal. One illustration; one property was rented by a ministry for 35,000 Afs per month to a company, it turned around and rented the property for 35,000 dollars, and it has been going on for 14 years. We are now creating an inventory of all these assets, we have sufficient investigations to be able to make decisions and commission others, so it’d be important step in that regard.
Second, Chief Justice Halimi and Attorney General Hamidi have agreed that before October, each of them will have five key reforms that are going to be driven by them. We want a condition based contract with the donors to support the justice sector on the basis of these reforms. They will be fundamental in that regard.
Third, we have set up a number priority areas for cleanup. For 2016, Ministries of Interior, Transport, Mining, and Education are on top of our list. And, Ministry of Finance has already prepared a comprehensive action program to work with these Ministries. Why these ministries? And why the approach? We have an enormously long tradition of justice, so first we come to rule of law. We have a long tradition… the circle of justice I hope has been explained to you. Muslim theory of governance is based on the foundational notion of justice. Without justice, there cannot be agriculture. Without agriculture, there cannot be commerce. Without commerce and agriculture, there cannot be an army. Without an army there cannot be an administration, and without an army and administration, there cannot be ruling and governance. It is a simple elegant thing. This is what (it is). So the notions of justice in this country is overdeveloped not underdevelopment. It is delivery. Because of this, I am announcing the establishment of a specialized Anti-corruption Justice Center. The anti-narcotics center has been successful, the chief justice and attorney general have approved this in our first preliminary meeting of the high council, and therefore we would like to implement it and move on so that for Warsaw, it’s active. Not that we will announce by Warsaw, I am announcing it today, we need to make it functional by Warsaw.
Let me briefly focus on these ministries. Ministry of Interior is one of the five larger spenders in this country, but more than that, the Ministry of Interior is the face between citizens and the state, so accountability in this ministry in removal of corruption is critical. The other is, you know because of the imposed war and our need to focus all our energies on containing terrorist attacks, we have not done enough on counter-narcotics. Ministry of Interior is absolutely essential both to the counter-narcotics effort and among other things to ensuring urban growth…. (Inaudible) property rights….and the other (thing) is that constitution gives the responsibility for discovery of crimes to the police. No one else has a right to discover. In the past, the courts have been meddling in this, the Attorney General’s Office has been meddling in every anti-corruption organization. Discovery of the crime is the job of the Police. That’s why the special crimes task force needs to work organically with the anti-corruption center to be able to move this forward. But, the other is, it is also our accountability to your citizens and to your treasuries. The funds that come to the Ministry of Interior must be fully accountable. I cannot have imaginary policemen. Every policeperson, man and woman… we are proud that we have a lot of women now, has to be fully documented. Their payment has to be fully electronic etc.
Mining. As Ambassador Mellbin pointed out, we are at risk of the curse of plenty. Curse of resources, today the mining sector is a driver of terrorist networks. Corruption of the past needs to be investigated. I am willing to have a force by ATI, any international group to look at contracts, we will post every single contract in the mining sector on websites. And, we will be willing to examine all the contracts that have been granted. We invite Afghan Civil Society as it has contributed in the past to investigate the mining sector. Acting minister Habibyar will explain to you as well as the principle of the community consultation.
Education. I am particularly wild about the missing funds that were given to communities to build schools. This is not just stealing, this is a criminal offense against our children. My client is the Afghan child. The Ministry of Education is a means, teachers are a means; schools are a means. We cannot commit a crime against our children. So, fortunately, thanks Nargis Nehan and the colleagues from the Ministry of Education. We have looked at all 110 schools in addition to 150 other schools. We have classified them; now we have a system. But international supervision again was extremely weak. And, whoever hire those we call on those donors that funded these to do their duty, otherwise we need to have a mechanism to sue those people who fail to do their internationally provided resources. There has to be an ombudsman, business needs to have another partner. When firms hired by international donors fail to do their job, what do we do? This is an accountability, this is your resources. Do you want them to go ahead and keep designing false roads both or not supervising school construction and others are accepting certifications. So, it is really important in this regard that we move on education, because that quality will be important. Results of our findings will be made public. I believe in transparency, so it’s important to engage in mutual accountability in the sense that we have accepted it. And, as you see, there is no blame game on our part. We just want to make sure that repetition of the past patterns where Afghan government did not own the problem does not recur and that then we are given international advice that is relevant and pertains to the problem.
Public Campaign. I want to acknowledge that we have been very weak in public communication and my reasoning was very simple. I did not want to raise expectations. A war was imposed on us, we were dealing with a lot of crisis, and we were dealing with fundamental drivers. Now, our way has been clear to our future and our international partnerships are very solid. I want to thank all our international partners; people sitting around me and all of you for believing in us. Last year, we were working with total uncertainty. This year, we are having risks but not uncertainty, and it is an immense change so I want to thank all the ambassadors, all the representatives of international organizations, international financial institutions, the security sector partners for believing in us and for creating a medium-term horizon. This medium-term horizon colleagues will enable us to tackle fundamental changes. We will take actions on land, on contracts and particularly I want to acknowledge the immense work of Mr. Paikar, our very able director general of ARAZI and a member of the Cabinet. ARAZI is an organization that really represents the new generation of reform, a fundamental shift is underway to transfer registration of property from the court that was only transferred as temporary measure in 1960s back to ARAZI, and the Turkish system that we have found most relevant to us is being piloted in Herat and Kabul. This will be a very important point.
In conclusion, again let me thank you for holding this conference and particularly for holding … because it shows that we not only share diagnosis and share a problem, (but that) we’re also partners and working and solving this problem. The road ahead of us is difficult. But there will be forks in the road where difficult choices have to be made that that’s what is going to distinguish us in terms of historical actors. Will we make the easy choice or will we make the harder choice? When a fork comes, those who choose the hard road pave the way for generations to come to benefit from the suffering and the consequences of that decision. We’re willing to take the hard road. But, what is fundamental to taking this hard road is our mutual commitment to transparency and accountability. Corruption thrives in the dark. But here also the dilemma of the reforms. The more we talk about corruption and the more we expose it, people think that it is increased, and it’s fine, but let us understand that this is not fraud on a wave, it is deep structures that we are dealing with so we have to balance fundamental issues that will shift the culture of capture and the commitment unconsciously probably or consciously to a weak state system to a culture we believe in stock state system- bound to its citizens by the bond of rule of law- prevails and meet mid-level actions that experts and specialists will believe in, but also those addressing those symptoms where the public will welcome. So in this balancing act as I hope what your deliberation will be, but also the deliberation regarding dealing with the past and the present. I hope that it has been shown that we have not politicized our anti-corruption team. It is not that we’re using anti-corruption to target anyone, we believe deeply in public discourse and in freedom. But, those who talk must also know their records and we ask you as our partners to advise us on this.
How systematically, how deep do you want us to go to the past; advise us, don’t avoid the problem, because it is extremely important. In terms of today and tomorrow, I want to make sure that you understand that we have the full commitment. This is a fight that we have to win. There is no choice. And we are not waiting for tomorrow to begin, we began yesterday, today we are accelerating and every day we will accelerate the speed. I used to run the 10 mile race and also the 50 meters. In 50 meters it is all about strength in one effort; in 10 miles you have to be steady otherwise you drop or get exhausted in the course of it. So, please help us both achieve the strengths with certain targets particularly by Warsaw and Brussels and then in the longer run.
Very last point, Brussels is crucial to us, we do not want to go to Brussels with speeches. So, please come to understanding with our colleagues. What are those core actions that would create credibility among all our international partners that we have taken action and we have not just spoken. Thank you. Long Live Afghanistan (the president says in Pashto, Uzbeki and Dari)
22 February 2016
Mr Bashir Keshtiar, President of Australia Afghan Business Council
Honourable Robin Scott MP, Minister for Finance
Mr Atiqullah Nusrat, CEO-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries
Mr Ali Akbar Zhawandai, Advisor to H.E. President of Afghanistan
H.E. Mr Matthew Anderson PSM, Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan
Ladies and Gentlemen
At the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the Australian Afghan Business Council for organising this important event today, and thank you for your participation here today. Your presence is of significant importance and adds greatly to today’s gathering.
We all know that Afghanistan and Australia have a deep historical relationship and I would like to extent my gratitude to the Australian authorities for supporting Afghanistan and deepening Afghan-Australian relations. Together we have enjoyed people to people relationship building since 1860 and 1870 when Afghans with their camels came to Australia to participate in the development process of communication networks in this beautiful country. They played a vital part and very constructive role in Australian society and economic development. Their inspiring efforts are parts of Australian memory. I am very proud that we have such a deep historic relation and a broad people to people connection today.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is also an opportunity for me to thank Australians for their sincere support in challenging times. Australia supports Afghans here in Australia and in Afghanistan during the time of war against international terrorism.
Australian troops have been fighting against terrorism shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan security forces for more than one decade.
Of course Afghans will never forget Australian support during these challenging times and particularly of those who have lost their precious lives in Afghanistan. Afghans will honour and remember Australia’s support and contribution against terrorism, the support of human rights, the assistance for the reconstruction process and hosting of thousands of Afghan refugees in these difficult times.
We appreciate Australia’s ongoing commitment for a long term support of Afghanistan’s security forces. At the same time we have to remember that Afghanistan fights against terrorism on behalf of the international community. Furthermore, Afghanistan does need the long term support and commitment of the international community including Australia.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Despite our significant achievements in our bilateral relationships in term of people to people relations and Australia’s strategic commitments and support of Afghanistan, our business communities interaction and cooperation, is still not that strong as Afghanistan wishes it to be. It is the job of the Embassy and the Australian Afghan Business Council to work together to enhance the relationship and to take it forward to reach desired outcomes. In order to successfully enhance bilateral business relations a substantive and inclusive plan should be developed.
Such plan can improve relations between companies, and will serve as a vehicle to encourage Australian companies to invest in Afghanistan and to work together with their Afghan counterparts.
Moreover, Australia has a rich historical experience on mining industry, law and regulation and mining investments. Therefore, we need Australia’s cooperation and support in these fields. However, it requires dynamic multi-level efforts from Afghanistan’s side to work with our Australian friends in the business community.
As such, we can enhance our private sector relations such as mineral and mining companies, small and medium size enterprises and trade. But it requires substantial work and follow up from initial introductions, and inclusive strategy to mobilize our all resources to bridge among our businesses and economic communities.
Therefore, in Afghanistan, our business community, the environment for developing business to business relationships, and right conditions for investment should be ready, and it is ready. As my colleague from Afghanistan provided more details, and I am sure they will provide you with more other details in this regard.
In relation to the Embassy’s role for this process, the Afghanistan Embassy in Australia is ready to support and provide consular services to the Business Council and for Australian companies to go to Afghanistan for investment and to enable them to work with the Afghan business community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once again, thank you for your participation; I appreciate your focus on Afghanistan in this critical time. Also my special thanks go to the President of the Australian Afghan Business Council and the CEO of the Council and members for supporting Afghanistan and Australia together, and the Council encouraging business to business interaction and cooperation. It is a crucial effort at the right time.