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Transcript of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Transcript of H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Brussels, Belgium

5 October 2016

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

 Your Excellencies, let me begin this morning with a note of thanks on behalf of Dr. Abdullah and myself to the distinguished representatives of the 75 countries and 25 representatives from the international community who are gathered here today with the sole aim of helping Afghanistan. We have come together as a partnership of countries and international organizations united by a common perspective on the value of democracy and human rights, a shared vision of the grave threats to world stability that terrorism poses, the need for leaders to unite in the common cause of respect for international law and sovereignty of states, and the commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve the Social Development Goals.    

It is a privilege to express the heartfelt thanks of the Afghan nation.  Knowing sorrow that follows from war and the loneliness of displacement, exile and migration has been our condition for four decades.   Despite the adversity, resilience is our national characteristic, derived from our long history as a meeting place of cultures and civilization, our abiding Muslim faith, our firm belief that we can overcome the past, and our culture of hospitality and friendship.     

You, distinguished leaders of the international community, have been our friends and the font of hope for our people.  The international community has offered our people a hand to help lift us out from the years of warfare, poverty, and cruelty. In a country that yearns for its children to be educated, you have built schools. Where lives were filled with trauma, disease, and early deaths you have built clinics and trained our nurses and doctors.  Where our fields had been destroyed and filled with landmines that suddenly left innocent children playing their childish games without legs and arms, you helped us clear them of danger and replanted our vines and orchards. Our citizens- boys and girls, men and women, students and teachers, nomadic, rural and urban, young and old --grasped that hand of friendship and today we acknowledge the gratitude of our nation. 

            Afghan women have been making history in the last 15 years. Offended but not broken by the gender apartheid imposed on them, they have dedicated themselves to the realization of the rights, obligations, and equal opportunities that our constitution provides to all Afghan citizens.   I celebrate the ability and capability of the Afghan women speaking for themselves.   They speak articulately and clearly as women and not just through identities derived from their relationship to men of their families.   Viewed case by case or category by category, the stories of our women’s remaking of themselves, as cultural, economic, political and social actors are inspirational.   Viewed collectively and measured by their network effect, they are taking a giant step for a historic transformation in the lives and roles of Afghan women. Supporting the emerging platform for sustained change requires focused attention, resources, and political will.   For every life changed, unfortunately, ten or more remain at risk.  If you look into what women farmers have done with around $40 to become the breadwinners of their families and hear them speak with the dignity that economic empowerment brings with it, you cannot but believe that Afghan women will be guardians of the democratic values enshrined in our constitution. I hope that their First Lady’s partnership with their president can serve as a demonstration that strength lies in mutual respect and commitment.    I am proud to acknowledge my continuous debt of gratitude to Rula for subjecting my ideas of reforms to the rigorous logic of whether it meets the test of putting people first, particularly the excluded and the poor.   The First Lady and I express our deepest thanks to the women and men in your countries, particularly in the executive and legislative branches, for your advocacy and support for expanding and sustaining the gains of Afghan women, for empowered women – the theme of yesterday’s session—are indeed the key to a prosperous Afghanistan.  Our inspiration comes from Bibi Khadija – the employer and then the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) – who was one of the most prominent merchants of Arabia.    

The youth and the poor -- the two other numerical majorities of our people --are also feeling the impact of your support.   As Minister of Finance in 2002, I literally searched for months for a capable leader or manager.  As president, I am fortunate to be flooded with CVs of capable Afghan men and women who combine education, experience and commitment.  In reading several hundred proposals from candidates for mayors of municipalities, I was struck by the evidence of a generational change in our capabilities and skills for leadership and management.  Thanks to your investment, we now have the 5-10 thousand people who can staff and drive the reforms and the projects that our electorate has mandated their Government of National Unity to deliver.     On behalf of the young generation of Afghan men and women who are going to bring us stability and prosperity, Dr. Abdullah and I thank you for opening up the opportunities offered to them.  

Poverty is our enduring challenge, as 39% of our people live below $1.35 a day.  That means 1-2 meals a day and low probability of their children ever attending school.   Nonetheless, the 61% that live above the poverty line and can eat 3 meals a day and send their children to school owe their changed lives to your assistance – for in 2001—after five years of drought and the cruelties of the Taliban– we were facing social collapse in the face.   I thank you for your generous new pledges on behalf of our poor, as we are going to be relentlessly focusing on reduction and elimination of poverty.  

Some months ago, I presided over the graduation ceremony of cadets from our Security Academy – where 549 officers – 13 of them girls – graduated.   These young people – the crème de la crème of our youth—exemplify our national will in defense of our country.

Your investment in our security and defense forces since 2002 has given a capability that can lead and manage the war against terrorism, criminality and instability.   Your generous commitments in the Warsaw Conference have assured our people that their volunteer sons and daughters in the security and defense forces will have the training, enablers and assistance to defend the independence and sovereignty of our country.   I thank President Obama for his historic decision to support our quest for freedom and democracy and all the leaders- Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Renzi, Prime Minister Cameron, President Erdogan, leaders of the four framework nations, and all other governments and people of all the countries that are supporting the Resolute Support Mission to advice, train and assist our forces. 

Your commitment, however, has been much more significant than spending of treasure.  Your sons and daughters have fought shoulder-to-shoulder with us, making the deepest of sacrifices in the cause of freedom. On behalf of the Afghan people and our security and defense forces, I would like to request a moment of silence in the honor of the fallen heroes from your countries and ours. 

When our Security and Defense Forces assumed full responsibility for the defense of our country on January 1, 2015, a significant number of pundits predicted our imminent collapse. How could the Afghan Security Forces carry the job of 130,000 ISAF soldiers?  Terrorism united – from Al Qaeda to the emerging Daesh- Taliban groups, criminal networks around the heroin trade and those providing sanctuary and succor to them, bet against us.  Defining our critical task as the survival of our country, we, the government of National Unity, reorganized and mobilized our security and defense forces – which operated in as many as fifteen provinces a day.  

We are still carrying out 15-18 missions a day.  But there are significant differences between 2015 and October 2016.   Confident of immense public support and full international backing, our security and defense forces are confident of facing and overcoming the forces of disorder.   Kunduz yesterday is an illustration.  Knowing the penchant of Taliban and their supporters – as expressed in the clipped English of their press release—we had predicted a series of attacks designed to overshadow the Brussels Conference.   This gathering of leaders committed to securing the future of Afghan citizens, however, cannot and will not be overshadowed.   Enemies of freedom can affect the news cycle but they will not dent our will, diminish our resolve, or divert our focus from building the strong state, market and societal institutions that a free people and a sovereign country require.   A war president was the last thing that I wanted to become but as the proud commander-in-chief of our forces I salute their will and their sacrifice.  All Afghans, especially our forces, know the stakes entailed in our sacrifice: the future of generations to come and the right of the Afghan people to independence, sovereignty, democracy, development, peace, and unity.      

There are no easy decisions in Afghanistan but I hope that history will judge that when confronted with hard choices, we have made the right choices.   As both our problems and solutions are chain-linked -- where the weakest link determines the strength of the chain—we have to think multi-dimensionally and act on multiple fronts simultaneously.    But before addressing the road ahead, I would like to take a moment to summarize the positive achievements that your help has brought to some 30 million of my Afghan brothers and sisters.   

Just a little less than two years ago we held our first Ministerial meeting in London, where our newly installed Government of National Unity presented an ambitious reform agenda.  The goal of that agenda was to put Afghanistan on a path to self-reliance through a combination of sound macroeconomic management, private sector development, and a stable, inclusive, system of public administration and finance that would carry into action democratically debated public policies.

To understand and overcome our developmental constraints while fighting for our survival has required focus and teamwork.  I, therefore, hope that our challenges should not obscure the accomplishments of our government and the commitment of the Afghan people to move forward.

Setting revenue targets and achieving revenue targets is one of the most significant tests of political will and capacity for leadership and management.   Commitment becomes clear when a poor country invites the IMF to set these targets and monitor their implementation. I don’t think they get many invitations.

 In 2015, despite the severe recession, we increased revenue by 22%.   We then reached agreement with the IMF on a three-year staff monitored program.   I am delighted to state that Minister Hakimi, our gifted Minister of Finance, has informed me that yesterday we fully met the revenue targets for 2016 – three full months ahead of the schedule.

Our budgets are credible and our medium-term fiscal management plans feasible.  Contrary to prevalent practice, we are championing condition-based assistance.   Not only are we asking the IMF to be strict with the conditionality that will help us build macroeconomic stability and a sound banking sector that can finance our recovery and growth, we are proposing the same model to our partners. 

Our new development partnership with the United States is condition-based and we have met all the conditions. Thank you Secretary Kerry for championing this approach. The State-building compact with the EU, signed yesterday, is another significant step in this direction. Thank you President Tusk and Ms. Mogherini. On-budget assistance supporting credible reforms is the key to accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.   

Joining the WTO required a focused effort and full coordination between the executive and legislative branches of the government.   We prepared the necessary laws, submitted them to parliament and obtained passage by July 2016.  

This effort required a sustained dialogue with our private sector, about the effectiveness of which you will hear directly from the private sector.   If investment by the private sector is the criterion of credibility, then I have good news to share.  In the last three months alone, we have secured commitments for investment of $1.1 billion from the private sector.  What is particularly rewarding is fully $800 million is in the energy sector- requiring a 20-year timeframe.   Equally significant it is three Afghan entrepreneurs who are making the bulk of the investment through a public-private partnership.  The news that a major Turkish company is willing to invest $200 million in a dam in Helmand to produce 100 megawatts of power should particularly please you.  

For decades we have talked about water resources, our potential to generate thousands of megawatts of energy, using our location to serve us as a regional hub for transit and trade, integration of our rural and urban sectors, our mineral resources, containing corruption and many other wonderful things.    The Government of National Unity has brought discipline to these dreams, knowing that our masters, the Afghan public and our partners, the international community, judge us by the results and not just by mere effort.  

For the first time in forty years, we have completed two dams, generating 60 mw of new power and storing 650 million cubic meters of water.   In the next three years, we commence building more dams than the last 250 years combined to harness an estimated 26 billion cubic meters of our water for irrigation and power generation.   Storage of the water will allow us to create a regional system of water trade and water conservation.   I want to thank Dr. Qayoumi, my brilliant friend, who resigned from his position as president of San Jose State University to guide our infrastructure and human capital portfolio and the ministers and all other colleagues who have acted upon his advice and guidance.

On energy and infrastructure, we have turned 10 years of talk into action, through agreements, groundbreaking   ceremonies.   CASA 1000, TAPI and Chabahar are in the process of realization, to be followed by multiple efforts at connectivity in the future.   Economically, Afghanistan is once again becoming integrated with Central Asia and through it to Europe.   The arrival of the first cargo by train from China and the agreement to establish an air corridor with India for export and import of high value low volume commodities are harbingers of the dividends of regional cooperation to be expanded.  

Our approach to regional cooperation is through development of clusters.  TAPI, for instance, will become a cluster, as will be others.

Any and all things having to do with agriculture has received our serious attention, for sustained agricultural growth is the key to political and social stability.   We are pleased that 240 villagers from all over the country joined myself, Dr. Abdullah and our Cabinet in Kabul as we launched the billion-dollar Citizen’s Charter program, which in January will provide basic health, education, electrification, and clean water to 12,000 rural and urban communities across Afghanistan.  And what touched my heart was when those 240 villagers stood up and told us, the government, that the two targets for their half of the Citizen’s Charter contract were to ensure that every penny is accounted for —- and that within four years they will make sure that 50% of their village council members will be women. Think about that. Rural and urban representatives are telling us that they believe in change.  This is real social transformation in action.

 Last Saturday, with help from the EU and the US, we launched a land certification program that will turn hundreds of thousands of urban squatter families in our five largest cities into property owners with secure titles.  And in January I invite all of you to join the launch of our National Program for the Economic Empowerment of Women, which, together with our programs to end violence against women, will put real substance into our Constitutional obligations to ensure equal rights for women.

 During the London anti-corruption summit hosted by Prime Minister Cameron, we announced that we will establish a counter-corruption justice center.   I am pleased that not only is the justice center fully functional but that it has made its first arrest.   A senior official in the Ministry of Interior who was asking for a $150,000 bribe was caught red handed and will be publicly tried.   The National Council on Rule of Law has been set and has put the rules on how to proceed further.

Central to our policy of fighting corruption is building the rule of law institutions and we are enormously pleased with the work of the Chief Justice and the Attorney General.  Our problems remain and they are networked: criminality and corruption are interrelated and it requires regional focus. We have made significant progress in arriving at economic cooperation in the region. What is critical is to generate the political will for regional cooperation. Terrorism does not know borders; there cannot be a distinction between good and bad terrorists, providing sanctuary or tolerating; Terrorism is a threat not only to Afghanistan, but also to the entire global community.

We are enormously pleased and proud both of the strategic patience, strategic focus and strategic commitment of the global community as represented today. Thank you President Tusk, Ms. Mogherini, the Secretary General, Mr. Kerry and all other distinguished participants for showing that political will, but the root of the problem is in the region; we, at the national level, are committed to unity, to focused effort, to dialogue. We made the peace deal, the recent peace deal, from within our public consensus, not outside of it. It is based on our constitution; it was negotiated in Kabul, the capital of all Afghans and it took place through an inter-Afghan dialogue. Afghans can make peace. We will make peace. We are committed to constructive politics, not destructive politics. We are committed to a politics of imagination, a politics of inclusion, a politics where every Afghan, as the constitution specifies, is equal to another Afghan. The largest task is the poverty in the region; the political will and focus in the region generated to define poverty and terrorism as our two central challenges. I am confident that we will overcome them. Terrorism is not a short-term phenomenon; unfortunately, if the previous four waves of terrorism are an indicator, it is a medium term phenomenon. We need to join our forces, keep our focus and move together. Afghans have the ability given our culture of resilience to overcome; we need the friends’ hands of friendship to believe and conclude that 40 years of suffering of a dignified nation that has never posed a threat to any of its neighbors and has always welcomed the international community with open arms, is enough. Thank you for the statement of support. Thank you for this magnificent gathering. And we shall succeed.

The 97th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day

The 97th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day

Abbas Farasoo

Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of Afghanistan in Australia and New Zealand

23 of September 2016

 

Ms Lyndall Sachs, PSM Chief of Protocol.

Mr Andrew Barr, Mla, chief Minister of ACT

Commodore Katherine Richards, Representing the Air Chief Marshal Binskin, Chief of the Defence Force.

Dear colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps

Dear Representatives of Government

Dear Representatives of International Organisations and the Economic Sector

Dear Members of the Afghan Community

Dear Colleagues of the Embassy

Dear guests,

Ladies and gentlemen, Good afternoon and welcome.

Today we have gathered here to celebrate the 97th anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day.  It was 97 years ago that King Amanullah Khan, declared Afghanistan’s independence from the British Empire. In subsequent decade, King Amanullah Khan embarked on a deep reform process to transfer Afghanistan into a modern nation-state. His reforms aimed to enhance women’s’ rights, promote education, rule of law enforcement and most importantly build strong state institutions.  Although, he failed to implement all of his reform agenda, he opened a new era in Afghanistan history. In fact, his legacy is a critical juncture in the modern history of Afghanistan and continues to inspire Afghans to this day.  

 

King Amanullah connected Afghanistan with the major countries around the world, establishing diplomatic relations based on mutual cooperation and friendship. Despite many challenges that Afghanistan has faced for almost a century since its independence, strong relationship with the international community and its neighbours is the central element of its foreign policy.

 

Today, in celebrating our 97th National Independence Day, we also pay tribute to all brave men and women in our security and defence forces that continue to fight against terrorist groups and protect our country and fellow citizens. The support that Afghanistan has received from the international community since 2001 also indicate that in today’s globalised world the fight against terrorism has strategic significance not only for Afghanistan but for all countries of the world. In other words, the terrorist groups in our region are not just posing a threat to Afghanistan’s security; they also pose a threat to everyone in an interconnected world.  

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Afghanistan and Australia’s relation is based on common interest and mutual respect and the two countries have established a strong partnership to cooperate in areas such as development and the fight against terrorism. Our diplomatic ties maybe recent but our people to people relationship goes back to as far as early1860s. Since the 1990s, Australia has welcomed thousands of Afghans in very difficult times, further deepening the ties between our peoples. Since 2001 our bilateral relations has strengthened tremendously. Australia has supported Afghanistan in the war against terrorism and has provided critical development support to Afghanistan. Since 2001, Australia has generously provided Afghanistan with over 1 billion dollars, contributing to economic development and our efforts to promote governance and empower women and girls rights. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Australia and the Australian people for all of their support.

 

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight and express our gratitude for the international support that has helped Afghanistan achieve important progresses. Since 2001, Afghanistan has made tremendous improvement in education, health and economic sectors. In the last fifteen years, Afghanistan’s GDP increased more than eightfold, meaning GDP per capita increased from 190 $ in 2002 to $620 in 2015. Similarly, exports increased from $69, 10 million in 2002 and to 570, 50$ million in 2015.

Afghanistan has also expanded its education sector, making modern education available to women and girls and thereby assisting them to enter the work force.  For instance, over 9.5 million Afghan children attend school every day; 3.5 million of them are girls. Fifteen years ago these attendance figures for girls, were unthinkable. Furthermore, today, around 300,000 students study at our universities; the new generation of our educated class will represent a generational shift and offer the necessary human capital for our future economic growth.  

Not surprisingly a rise in school attendance has led to an increase to literacy. In 2001 the literacy rate in Afghanistan was 12% while in 2016 it has increased to 40%. Moreover, today, Afghanistan has 150 universities and 15000 schools which are vital for development and enhancing marketable skill for new generation.

A high education rate has also meant that more women are now entering the work force and actively taking part in the development of their country. Thousands of women now work with Afghan security forces while thousands more work with the media. Such achievements would not have been imaginable under the Taliban.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me give you some other examples of changes in Afghanistan during the last decades. Fifteen years ago, under the Taliban regime, there was no internet in Afghanistan; watching and owning a television was illegal as was the presence of women in the public sphere. Today Afghanistan has a vibrant media sector with 75 television channels, dozens of radio stations, and more than one thousand print publications. Today, in terms of communication facilities, more than 70% of the whole population have mobile phones; Under the Taliban, only 1% of the people had access to a small number of landline phones.  Moreover, 5 million people have access to the internet. There was no internet in Afghanistan in 2001. These achievements are playing crucial roles in promoting transparency, good governance and the fight against corruption and making it possible to shift towards electronic-governance in the country.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

All these achievements were not possible without the support and assistance of friendly countries such as Australia. Australia has made a critical contribution in supporting Afghanistan’s security and defence forces, promoting social development and human rights. Australia supported Afghanistan in Warsaw summit which took place in July 2016. Australia maintains a strong role in supporting the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan that continues to enhance the capacity of Afghan defence forces in their fight against terrorism as a common threat against all of us.  Australia strengthened its commitment to Afghanistan and the Afghan people in a very challenging time. At the beginning of the year, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, the Prime Minister of Australia visited Afghanistan whilst the Defence Minister, Senator The Hon Marise Payne, visited Afghanistan just last month. So, we appreciate Australia’s ongoing support and friendship.

I would like to note, that despite all significant achievements that we have made to date, security is still the biggest concern for Afghanistan. For the last fifteen years Afghanistan has been and continues to be the real victim of terrorism. Our innocent people and security forces are targeted on a daily basis by different terrorist groups such the Taliban, ISIS and their affiliated groups in the region. As the recent attacks on peaceful protestors on the 23rd of July and the American University of Afghanistan on 24th of August show very clearly, these terrorist groups target civilians and civilian institutions indiscriminately. The brutality and scale of these attacks once again demonstrate the need for our collective response and closer cooperation at all levels.  

As I mentioned at the beginning, in today’s interconnected world the security challenges facing Afghanistan are not Afghanistan’s problem alone. This threat has global dimensions and presents a challenge against the state-based order of international cooperation. Cooperation with the international community and regional countries in our neighbourhood is the core policy of Afghan government.

The lack of cooperation in the region on one hand, and the presence of sanctuaries of the terrorist groups outside our borders on the other, have been hampering Afghanistan’s efforts to bring peace and stability in the country. Despite these challenges, we as Afghans, work hard to go forward, and will not surrender to terrorist groups and their supporters and sympathizers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me also touch on Afghanistan’s potential for investment, development and economic cooperation. Afghanistan has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Mining and resource exploitation has a long history in the country. Even after thousands of years of artisanal exploitation, vast reserves of more than 1400 minerals remain largely untouched throughout the country. According to an estimate, Afghanistan’s unexploited mineral wealth is worth over 3 trillion USD. It is a great opportunity and huge potential for investment, development and cooperation

Moreover, Afghanistan has recently passed new legislations that makes it easier for foreign investors to invest in the county. We have improved bidding systems, enhanced consultancy and joint venture framework under Afghanistan’s legal and institutional facilities. In short, Afghanistan is ready for investment and development, as it is ready and determined to fight for stability and promote cooperation in the region.

Thank you.   

Introductory Remarks of H.E Salahuddin Rabbani Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Opening of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan


5 October 2016 – EU Headquarters

In the name of God the most Compassionate the most Merciful

H.E Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H.E Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

H.E. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Honorable Ministers,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan and as the co-host of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, it is a great privilege to welcome you all today.  The overarching theme of this conference is “Partnership for Prosperity and Peace.”

Peace and Prosperity are the priorities of the Afghan government. The Afghan nation is grateful to our international partners for their sacrifices in helping us move towards those crucial objectives, for the past one and half decade. And once again, your presence here today reaffirms our enduring partnership and great alliance.

It strengthens and renews our joint commitment to see an Afghanistan free of war and poverty.

And for those who want this vision to fail, our gathering here today sends a clear message: that Afghanistan is on the path to a more prosperous future and has the unshakeable support of its international friends on this journey.

Distinguished Delegates,

Since 2001, we have traveled a long and difficult journey together. When our partnership started, years of conflict had left Afghanistan devastated across the board. For instance, it is worth remembering that in 2002, fewer than 900,000 students were at schools with no girl among them. In the education sector, that was our starting point.

Today, that number has gone up to 9 million students, 40 percent of which are girls.

Today, Afghan women are active members of the civil society, as well as in the government and in the private sector. We have women ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians, members of the high peace council, judges, attorney generals, and ambassadors.

Due to government’s strong leadership, sound public health policies and support from the international community, we have achieved considerable progress in public health system. Maternal and child mortality rates have declined significantly.

Our fiscal position has also improved considerably. Effective revenue collection and more realistic budgeting have helped us balance our expenses. Over the period 2015-2016   our revenue has increased to 29 percent and is estimated to increase to 32 percent.

In late July, after over a decade of negotiations, Afghanistan acceded to the World Trade Organization as its 164th member. As a land locked country, we look forward to benefit from thespecial treatment granted for Least Developed Countries under the WTO multilateral trading system.

The Afghan government’s commitment in fighting corruption and its reform agenda remains firm.The establishment of an independent Anti-Corruption Justice Centre in Kabul and the creation of theNational Procurement Authority are the strong examples of this commitment.

Similarly, the endorsement of the new election law last month is a major step towards electoral reforms in ensuring more transparent: provincial, parliamentary and Presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Building on a broad framework and consensus established in previous conferences on Afghanistan and under the leadership of the National Unity Government, today,  we have developed a vision, and a clear roadmap for our future economic development policies.

Now it is the time for us to further foster our national reform agenda, and the priorities described inRealizing Self-Reliance Strategy Paper and in Afghanistan National Peace and Development Strategy Framework.

Last week, we took an important step in overall efforts to achieve a lasting peace, by concluding the signing of peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami group. While fully committed to preserving the rights of our citizens, particularly women’s rights, we are ready to sign similar agreements with other armed opposition groups, who are ready to renounce violence break all ties to the international terrorism and accept our constitution.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A glimpse at where we stand in our shared journey shows that our achievements are many and that Afghanistan is progressing on a positive trajectory. These are the achievements that are shared between the people of Afghanistan and the international community. We all can take pride in what we have achieved together.

Yet, our challenges remain formidable. On a daily basis, our brave security and defense forces are fighting to eliminate extremism and terrorism.

It falls upon all of us, as a responsibility, to make sure no innocent life is lost anymore whether it is in Brussels, Kabul, New York or elsewhere.

It is important today that we maintain a broad political support and a sense of mutual accountability beyond pledging to assist the Afghan nation in its path towards self-reliance.

We need to strengthen Afghan ownership and leadership, the economic growth and productivity, governance and rule of law, and renew our development partnership by taking into account the emerging challenges.

Honorable Ministers,

Yesterday, the side event on Regional Integration and Prosperity added more values to the existingAfghan-led regional cooperation processes, namely the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia–Istanbul Process.

These platforms and processes will help us to work closely with our neighbors to build better regional understanding, and to promote economic integration in pursuit of peace and development.

The rich discussions during the side event, Empowered Women-Prosperous Afghanistan were also assuring for Afghan women’s economic empowerment. It offered a unique perspective on the essential role of Afghan women in helping to promote economic development.

Building upon our previous mutual frameworks, this conference is an opportunity to provide a platform for the government of Afghanistan to set out our vision and present our track record on our reform agenda.

Similarly, it is an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm their sustained political and financial support to Afghanistan’s peace-building and development efforts.

Distinguished Delegates,

Today, once more, we will express our durable commitment towards building a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan; and we will show to the adversaries that our alliance for a prosperous Afghanistan and a peaceful world is indestructible.

Thank you.

Transcript of His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Interview with Geo News

Transcript of His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Interview with Geo News

July 18, 2016

Journalist: First, I was reading an article in New Yorker about your personality and I remembered one of your speeches which you delivered in 2005, I think, that was about ‘how to fix the failed states?’ and you are considered to be an authority worldwide for this subject. How do you experience your theory in Afghanistan, and sometimes it looks that you were unable to bring your theory ‘fixing the failed states’ to Afghanistan in practice. Am I right?

President Ghani: بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. Safi, I am delighted to welcome you. My greetings, Salams to the viewers of Geo. Afghanistan is moving. What was the situation that we confronted? Simply put, an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of Afghanistan, to overthrow the legitimate government of Afghanistan, to ignore the will of the people of Afghanistan. Failing that to divide the geography of Afghanistan, God forbid, into two systems, unleashing of networks of terror and violence that the world has not seen, it has only recently experienced. We’ve overcome. One thing, In Shaa’ Allah, you need to realize; Afghanistan has existed for 5,000 years. Long before I am gone, this country is permanent. The sooner everybody realizes it and as great Iqbal, as you cited, indicated, there cannot be accord in Asia while there is a discord in Afghanistan, and the discord has implications. We are not only defending our country with blood, with sacrifice every day, we are building the consensus to build and effective state, and inclusive state, and a democratic state. In the period of time since I have had the honor and the burden of responsibility is too short to judge success or failure yet.

Journalist: Mr. President! Some days back in Warsaw once again the world community and the NATO pledged the support of Afghanistan and Afghanistan people and the Afghan government. What is your assessment, till what time Afghanistan will need the foreign assistance and the foreign troops? And, till what time we can expect that Afghanistan will be able to defend its border with its own forces?

President Ghani: We are defending our country; we are defending our sovereignty; the international forces are not engaged in combat. This was unthinkable; if you look into a number of regional commentators and international commentators, they thought we didn’t have a prayer; they thought Afghan army is made of puff, but the Afghan army is real; the Afghan Security forces are real. This year alone, three intensive waves of battle have been launched against us and we have crushed them. Why is there war? And why are international troops still in non-combat roles here? Because our overtures for peace, our entire program for peace, our outreach for peace was not accepted. Had my sincere efforts, that you referred to, with Pakistani leaders – civil and military – have been accepted, Afghanistan would not have had to fight when we would not have needed international troops. But, there are wrong assumptions, I think we have shown them that the international community… the assumption was that the international community was tired, it is exhausted, it is overextended and Afghanistan will not be a priority. I hope it’s been proven beyond doubt in Warsaw that the consensus on Afghanistan is unprecedented. Why is there a consensus? Because we are doing our part, and the problem is not confined; this is not a civil war. The networks of international terror, the support that they draw, required international cooperation. We will be with every day, our Security Forces become stronger but we need international support because the war is both regional and international.

Journalist: But, Mr. President, outside Afghanistan, generally, the people believe that it is not the Afghan forces, but it’s the NATO and the Americans who are defending Afghanistan. So who is leading the defense activity in Pakistan, your own forces or the Americans?

President Ghani: Our own forces are leading. Go, look at our barracks, people who are dying. How many American casualties are there in Afghanistan? How many European casualties are in Afghanistan since I have become President? Combat requires casualties. This is an Afghan-led operation. We hope that people who are our neighbors will at least bother to check their facts. You know, when I used to do field work in 1986, Ms. Bhutto had just returned and I would go attend all the demonstrations, and then in the salons in the evening, people who had not attended had all theories as to what had happened. We have to get outside the couches and move, and examine the realities. This is an Afghan-led operation. The Afghan Security Forces have shown their metal, their patriotism, their leadership and their management, and I am extraordinary proud to be their Commander in Chief.

Journalist: And who is on the driving seat? Do the NATO forces have to obey your orders or your troops have to obey their orders?

President Ghani: No. we are not obeying anybody’s order. This is a partnership. Their role is non-combat role. In a non-combat role, they provide advice, assistance and training. In counter-terrorism, we have joint operations and I issue orders; for instance, I ordered that the man going by the name of Omar Khattab who had committed the heinous crime of attacking and killing children in Peshawar and taking prides in it, should be bombed and he was.

Journalist: What is the biggest challenge to the security and to the lives of Afghan people? Is it Al-Qaeda, is it Taliban or is it the surrounding countries, the proxies?

President Ghani: Our biggest problem is state-to-state relationship with Pakistan.

Journalist: This is the biggest problem?

President Ghani: That is the biggest problem. It is the fundamental issue of regional security; because there are two wars going on; one war is getting coverage; the other war is not getting global coverage. Pakistan has 200,000 armed personnel along the Durand Line and they are using force continuously and it is courageous act. But the fundamental problems are terrorist networks. But because we have not reached state-to-state coordination, we are facing fundamental issues. Sovereign equality between states and agreement to international rules of the game defining relations between the states is key to regional stability; that has been my message, and this continues to be my message. We need to arrive at common understanding. The quadrilateral process brought this to a very organized framework, and we hope that we can move back towards implementation of them.

Journalist: So, Your excellency. Do you think that state-state relations problems with Pakistan, this is more biggest problem than Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists?

President Ghani: Yes, absolutely. Those are threats. This is a fundamental solution (to those threats) because there are sanctuaries. Can anybody deny that there are Taliban offices in Quetta? You go and interview with them; if you want the addresses, I will give you all the addresses… Of course, I can give you the addresses. Our corps commander went and gave, and asked to take a ride corps commander of Quetta to give them the addresses. They are openly recruiting. They are financed. Their logistic and supplies, and sanctuary is against international rules.

Journalist: Mr. President, we are hearing the slogan from both sides that ‘the enemy of Pakistan is the enemy of Afghanistan, and the enemy of Afghanistan is the enemy of Pakistan’; similarly in Pakistan, our rulers, they are repeating the sentence again and again that we have the same path, we have the same interest and we have the same concerns. Then the question is ‘why we are not reaching a joint strategy to fight this menace of terrorism and poverty and other evils?

President Ghani: First of all, look at the potential. Cooperation between us, solid state-to-state relationship…people to people relationship, we have a very long history and there are enormous sets of ties. But, state-to-state relationship is key. In relation between governments, there is no emotion. This is a rational discussion; it is interest-based. You reciprocate, we reciprocate. Afghanistan is part of no one’s strategic depth. It is never going to be anyone’s dependency. Whoever has tried this, has failed. Understand us as an historical people, as a people who were willing to sacrifice a million and half (1.5 million) people to win a Jihad that nobody thought possible. Islam is a part of our warp and woof. We have a total consensus on this because we unite about this; but the question is not rhetoric; the question is action in practice. We have not allowed, as our latest action again shows we are not giving sanctuary; we have not allowed open offices; we have not allowed networks of recruitment; we see the danger of terrorism.

Any child whether Afghan, in Punjab, in Peshawar, in Quetta, Karachi, anywhere in the world or around, is valuable.  Any threat to that child, we take as a threat to ourselves. When we say… what we ask is that Iqbal be listened to; that the founder of Pakistan’s movement be paid attention to, because he understood us, and his memoirs of Afghanistan move us, his poetry moves me deeply. I have read almost all the poetry last year, from the beginning to end. Here is the question: we cannot say that one group are terrorists, amend our constitution, change our army act, have a national action plan, and then simultaneously tolerate another group that attempts to overthrow, to undermine, to bring horror, death and destruction to our neighbor. This is not acceptable.

Journalist: But do you not think Mr. President that now Afghanistan is repeating the same mistake which was committed by the Pakistani establishment in the past? For example, look at the Fazlullah’s presence in Afghanistan and …… ?

President Ghani: Fazlullah, we have bombed eleven times. Eleven times. Eleven operations, at least, I have authorized. We have gotten his closest affiliate; that he has seven lives is not my problem. Can you show me a single operation against the Haqqani? Can you show me a single operation against Mulla Omar, against Mansour? Mansour travels on a Pakistani passport out of Karachi. Does Fazluallah travel on an Afghan passport out of Kabul, or Kandahar or Herat? Please look. You are not reciprocating our actions. I can give you chapter and verse of the number operations. Can anybody in Pakistan give me indication of a single action for use of force against these groups? Their wounded get treatment in hospitals, open meetings in Islamabad.

Journalist: Is the operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqani and that was not in the demand of the Afghan government?

President Ghani: The operation in North Waziristan was on the basis of national imperatives of Pakistan. The threat became large, you have covered it. General Raheel Sharif made a courageous decision to use it that the consequence of this was that a series of terrorist group like beehives changed that places, increased the threats to us, and, the Haqqanis were not touched; the Haqqani network is intact. Miramshah was hit and it is very real, and that operation needs to be appreciated. Facts are facts, but we will accept any credible third party verification; and our proposals are always constructive, Safi Sahib. We say, if we agree that ‘the threat to Pakistan is threat to Afghanistan and threat to Afghanistan is threat to Pakistan’, let’s arrive at a systematic framework and have it verified.

Journalist: Mr. President. The Pakistani government and particularly the Pakistani establishment; they are mostly and very concerned about the presence and activities of the Indian RAW in Pakistani border and they claimed that they have so many evidences of use of the Pakistani side by the RAW against Pakistan. So did you address that concern of Pakistan?

President Ghani: Look. I have had meetings with General Raheel Sharif, with the head of ISI, with Prime Minister Sharif and with others. Not a scrap of evidence has been presented to me. And, Afghan policy is continuous. We will not permit our country to be used for destabilization of any other country, particularly the neighborhood. Two, we will not sponsor terrorist groups as an instrument of policy. We will not use state organizations as non-state actors.

Some people live in a world of mythology; they believe their own allegations. If there are indications, if they are allegations, let’s agree to a third-party verification. Would they accept the Chinese? Would they accept the US? Who would they accept? Allegations cannot be a myth, allegations need to be substantiated. Again, Afghanistan sees itself as a roundabout, a place of meetings of civilizations, cultures, trades, and as a source of harmony. For thousands of years, we had fulfilled this function from the great Silk Route, from taking Indian numbers that became known subsequently as the Arabic numbers… We took mathematics and astronomy during the Muslim period. We are a place of meetings; we do not want to be source of contentions. We are not part of proxy wars. We want a solid relationship, and it is important to have a fact-based approach and a goal-oriented policy. Our policy is good neighborliness. Cooperation, linking Central Asia to South Asia. And, despite any tensions, our economic cooperation; we are working on TAPI; we are working on the transmission line from Turkmenistan; we are working on CASA, the transmission line. We have not slowed down. But, as a landlocked country, we have rights to transit. Our relationship is multidimensional; our greatest problem is poverty, and poverty can be uplifted through regional cooperation. So, regional cooperation is absolutely central to the type of policy that I lead and to the type of threats. 

Journalist: Mr. President, if you are so clear in your mind to act against TTP leadership and if you are ready to address the concern of the Pakistani government regarding the Indian or the RAW presence in the region, then why the NDS or the Afghan government refuses the intelligence cooperation, and when you were going to (inaudible) deal between the cooperation of ISI and your NDS. So why that efforts didn’t materialize?

President Ghani: Why? Why it didn’t. Did they sponsor the Taliban? A state-to-state relationship means an all-out attack; twice I was promised peace; before the spring of 2015, I was promised peace, a set of peace agreements. Instead, what did we gain? A vicious wholesale attack on us. In 2016, again, at the highest levels of the government of Pakistan, I was assured that within days, peace process was going to begin in earnest, and another series of attacks. And, in this environment, how do you expect us to behave with trust? You need prior action; we fulfill our obligations, Safi Saib. And, the groups are known, and in the quadrilateral, it is in black and white. Groups that do not accept peace, the peace process, are irreconcilable, about those groups, there is use of force and there is eviction

Journalist: But Excellency, instead of blaming each other in media or in international forums, is that will be not better that your army should talk to the Pakistani army, your intelligence should confront the Pakistani intelligence, and political leadership should sit with the Pakistani political leadership?

President Ghani: You are repeating my words of 2014, but trust needs to be established. We need to be assured that Pakistan is not going to give sanctuary to groups whose aim is overthrow of a legitimate government. You cannot have it both ways. We tried that. I overcame years of distrust, years of discord; I came with an open mind and an open heart. And, I repeated it that this was a once in a life-time opportunity. I am still insisting. Governments don’t have friends and enemies. We are servants of the people; we have national interests. I am the servant, the first servant of the Afghan people when the interest of my country demanded, I reached out; when the interests of my country demanded, I formed partnerships; there is nothing legitimate that I will not do to defend my national interest, and this needs to be understood. And, anybody who looks down upon my people, upon my government, upon my constitution closes an environment and trust will not grow. So we have an opportunity. The opportunity is to make history, to overcome the past, to move forward with a sense of vision, with a sense of commitment and a sense of mutual interest. Mutual interest is the basis on the basis of which we can proceed.

Journalist: How we can move forward? How we can achieve once again that environment of trust and cooperation?

President Ghani: Now it will have to be gradual and systematic. First, systematically declaring that Pakistan has no interest in strategic depth; it does not look down upon us as a backyard. We are nobody’s backyard. Anybody who stepped here has been swallowed. This is a land of lions. Don’t look upon us as the land of hens.

Journalist: But your present leadership and the political and also the military, they have denounced the concept of strategic depth. 

President Ghani: But this needs to have implications; that means, ‘don’t give sanctuary. It means, ‘do not allow for political recruitment of groups that are openly declaring war. Our police cadets on the way of returning are killed; groups in Pakistan take responsibility for them. Our unarmed security apparatus, two miles from here, are studying; they are butchered. In Kabul, bombs are thrown; responsibility is taken for them by named groups, and those groups have headquarters; they have open activity; they have meetings. None of the high-ranking Pakistani officials has denied meeting with senior levels of Taliban. How can Mansour travel on a Pakistani passport multiple times from Karachi airport? And here, there will be accusations. So, environment……

Journalist: But they claimed that there are so many Afghans who have got the Pakistani passport.  

President Ghani: Oh come on, please, please. Do not insult ISI. ISI is far more efficient than not to know who Mansour is.

JournalistBut, Mr. President. In the past even some presidential candidates of Afghanistan, they were holding the Pakistani

President Ghani: No, but those were people that were honored by specific things. But, it is not in order to commit terror. The leaders of Jihad were engaged in a legitimate Islamic duty, in a national patriotic duty, and it was part of our friendship. What I am bringing to your attention and to your honorable viewers and officials; we have an opportunity, we have prepared roadmaps that have been on papers that have been shared. There is an opportunity to act. And, I hope that illusions that the government of Afghanistan will collapse, that the Afghan army will collapse, that the international forces will abandon us, that we will run out of resources or will or determination. Let’s begin with a clean slate, with a full understanding that Afghanistan is here, and that is based on mutual interest; we can face the greatest threat that faces all of us which is regional and internationally-based terrorist networks that threaten both our countries. That is the threat, and the key to the solution is our cooperation; in that cooperation, we are willing to engage systematically and wholeheartedly, but based on the principle of, “trust but verify’.

Journalist: What should be the step 1, step 2, step 3 from the Pakistani side?

President Ghani: Step one, go after the declared terrorist groups. Clear. If you don’t take action on them, we don’t believe you.

Step two, act on the quadrilateral process regarding reconcilables and irreconcilables so that peace can begin.  Three; those who reject peace should be evicted from Pakistan.

Journalist: And what the Afghan side will reciprocate?

President Ghani: Afghan side will cooperate with counter-terrorism; the threat of terrorism is on the two sides of the line. It has now become a ground for attacks on both of us. Threat of terrorism in Pakistan cannot be contained without full regional and global cooperation. We will engage in full cooperation across the board: people-to-people relationship, economy-to-economy relationship, security-to-security relationship, political-to-political and cultural-to-cultural.

Journalist: And in that condition, your government is ready to address the Pakistani concerns regarding Indian presence or TTP or Baluch separatists?

President Ghani: India is a historical friend of Afghanistan. India is building dams in Afghanistan and helping building our parliament. India is a democratic country sharing our democratic aspirations. Our foreign policy is no-one’s business, but ours, as long as it’s constructive. If destructive allegations are made, we will verify. We are proud of our friendship with India; we are proud of our friendship with China and with the United States; that is the essence of sovereignty. Essence of sovereignty is that you are free to strike partnerships with others. The essence of regional stability is that your friendships with others do not pose threats to your neighbors.

Journalist: Your Excellency, besides the elected president of the Afghan people, you are also an intellectual and a researcher. I want to understand how you will categorize the relationship of Pakistan and Afghanistan at this stage. Can we say them ‘brother’? Can we say them ‘friend’? And can we say it is ‘love and hate relation’? Or God forbid we can say ‘enmity’ or ‘enemy’?

President Ghani: in relations between states, there is no emotion. When you call each other ‘brother’, it means you are claiming an emotional relationship. Emotional relationships come when there is a stable state-to-state relationship. The face of brotherhood is later…that’s between people; that’s not between governments. I do not conduct the affairs of the state based on a model of a family. You can ask all my colleagues, my relationships with them are instrumental at the service of patriotism. We all believe in this basis because family…Dost Mohammad, the man who put back together to Afghanistan faced his brothers; and the elder brother said, ‘based on Afghan honor now surrender to me the province of Qalat.’ He said, ‘In the affairs of the state, there is no family relationship.’ That was one of my predecessors, known as the Great Amir. So, our relationships are clear. Clarity in our relationships has been established; now we need to act to bring about understanding and trust. There has been an undeclared war against us, and this I articulated both to Pakistani government, to the Pakistani security forces, to the media, to parliament; no one questioned that. The undeclared war must end, and because of it, the two sides must engage in a systematic constructive dialogue to bring it to an end.

What is the danger? The danger is that we could move from excellent people-to-people relationship to enmity between people. That is what I am trying to avoid and that’s why there is no emotion in my language. We are grateful for the support that Pakistanis provided to our refugees. We intend to bring them back honorably. But again, it is to the interest of the refugees; it is in the interest of people, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, who have taken most, to be hospitable; and here that is where there has been emotion. Afghan refugees particularly during the height of Jihad did not feel that they were living in an alien land; they were living in a land that they understood and respected. People-people relationships are emotional and there is a lot of that, and we intend to bring back our refugees. But, state-state relationship must be rationally conducted. It is based on the principle of interest and it is based on the principle of reciprocity. When positive actions are shown to us, we move. When negative actions take place, it slows down, but the basic point remains; Afghanistan and Pakistan like any two neighbors with very long histories are joints at the hip. We must work together to solve our common problems, not face each other as opponents, because the winner will be terrorism.

Journalist: One of the common problems is the refugee problem, and the Pakistan official, they are giving the excuse that ‘we cannot recognize Taliban’ or ‘we cannot go against them’ because they are using the refugee camps and they are active in the shape of the common refugees; so why the Afghan government is not bringing back its own citizens because we even witnessed in President Karzai’s period, no refugees came back to their country and even now in your government. So, do you have any plan for the repatriation of the Afghan refugees?

President Ghani: two very interesting comments; first is an admission that they have actually been sponsoring Taliban. So your effect said that the Pakistani officials say they are sponsoring Taliban because they are afraid of refugee reaction. This is an enormous admission. Thank you.

Journalist: But at the same time, they are saying if they will go against them then the Afghan government……

President Ghani: No, no. I am saying is that, but now the problem has been put. They have never put this to me with this clarity. If it were put with this clarity, we would solve the problem jointly. But, let them, at least, not say this to you, but not tell me, because this is important.

Second; five million refugees returned in the last 14 years, Safi Sahib. At least, 2 million of them returned from Pakistan, so it is not that we have not. This is a country which was emptied. Three, we are very keen to have a holistic approach; part of the Brussels Conference is not going to be just migration outward, but to solve …… I have repeatedly said, and I am repeating that again. Afghanistan is an incomplete body till the estimated 4 million refugees in Pakistan and Iran return back to our land. But, that means I have to have the opportunity to focus on the economy, to move the economy. If we want to refugees to be absorbed, we have to ensure 6 -9% rate of growth. I am absolutely keen to do this, but regional cooperation will cut this process (short), because all studies have shown once you go from conflict to peace, the neighbors alone benefit from 1 to 2 percent, save the country. So, it is in our mutual interest if the question of refugees and their reactions is of concern, and this would be legitimate, we can arrange as part of our discussions a systematic attempt to repatriate our refugees.

Journalist: Mr. President. Although they are challenging Afghan government, they are killing the Afghan people but at the same time the Taliban there are Afghans. So why your government is not going to talk directly to the Taliban because now their representatives are in Qatar; you can contact them, you can talk them. So why Afghan itself are giving opportunity to third forces to come and to intervene?   

President Ghani: Several things. When we talked during President Karzai’s time, weren’t the same people arrested? Why was Mullah Brother arrested? Because he was talking to the Afghans. We needed to make sure…Safi Sahib, this is multidimensional conflict. First thing, because of that priority was to differentiate state-state relationship with Pakistan, people-to-people relationship with Pakistan as distinct. We need first peace between the two countries. As long as a proxy war is being launched from Pakistan, and as you just said for whatever set of reasons, they tolerate it or accept it or encourage it, then we have a state-to-state problem. Show me a place where sanctuary has been provided and peace has been established through direct talks. Two, we are talking. We are talking to Hikmatyar group; we have offered talks now. Again in my speech to Afghan parliament after the attack on Kabul, I said, we do not demand peace from Pakistan. We demand commitments of a state-to-state; we are engaging and we will engage, but it was important to address that dimension that connects directly to Pakistan. And, as you have just stated, again I am stating, they have made a significant statement but this is not justification. Terrorism cannot be differentiated, and what you have indicated citing unnamed officials is that there is good terrorism and bad terrorism, and that is unacceptable to us.

Journalist: But the Pakistani side said that when we bring Taliban to Mari, then why the news of Mullah Omar death was released to the media from the Afghan government and the Afghan NDS.

President Ghani: The news of Mulla Omar’s death came from the Taliban.

Journalist: That was not leaked by the Afghan government officially?

President Ghani: No, we didn’t leak. We gave an official statement. ‘Leak’ is when you say something and you don’t acknowledge it. My foot had been broken. I was going for an operation; I had got nineteen stitches, and it needed to come. And, the news was leaking, we verified 19 different sources, all within Taliban groups. How is it that, again, that an incredibly competent regional intelligence organization did not know for two years? And, in all the discussions that were conducted with intentions of sincerity, a simple fact like this was not shared with us. 

Journalist: Mr. President. What your government can offer to Taliban? Is there any meeting point because they are not accepting your constitution?

President Ghani: What we are offering Taliban is common citizenship, common destiny, common vision, and inclusion. We accept the constitution does not differentiate between Afghans, and Afghans who accept…This is the charter of our existence. And, we must live together. We are offering that and the details of what divide us are subject of peace talks. We did not put preconditions. I have looked at more than 100 peace agreements. I wrote a long article of in days when I had time to write articles, and based on that I drew lessons. One of the key lessons was that we should show our sincerity. We have shown our sincerity and our commitment. What can be brought in the negotiation process cannot be gained in the battle field.

Journalist: And what happened with the deal with the Hezb-e Islami, Hekmatyar?

President Ghani: It is proceeding. We are still in discussions. It is a constructive dialogue. We are hopeful.

Journalist: You are hopeful?

President Ghani: Yes

Journalist: And, when we should expect you in Pakistan once again in that friendly environment?

President Ghani: When Pakistani leaders come with clarity regarding the relationships and the key questions that we have. Last time I was there, reciprocity now is the leadership of Pakistan comes here. I called Prime Minister Sharif, wished him well, and informed him that we had eliminated the heinous criminal

Journalist: Our Prime Minister has just passed a heart surgery, now he has a new heart, so why you are not inviting him for these talks to Kabul?

President Ghani: We are inviting. I called the Prime Minister before he went to the operation and I have just called him again.

Journalist: And You are inviting him to visit Kabul?!

President Ghani: Of course. We are delighted to have the Prime Minister.

Journalist: Mr. President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,  Dr. Ashraf Ghani. Thank you very much once again.