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Ambassador Jawad Attends International Conference on Creating Stability and Prosperity in Afghanistan and the Region

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination (LISD) at Princeton University held a conference on “Creating Stability and Prosperity in Afghanistan and the Region” on October 26-29, 2006 in Vienna, Austria. Conference sessions focused on issues relating to Afghanistan’s economy, infrastructure, energy, natural resources, and mining; the rule of law and effective governance; and international actors. Ambassador Said T. Jawad accompanied by First Secretary Ashraf Haidari participated in the conference. Other Afghan participants included former Minister of Interior Ali A. Jalali, Advisor to the President Masoom Stanekzai, former Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Saikal, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Fawzia Koofi, Senior Advisor to Foreign Minister Davood Moradian, and Advisor to Minister of Education Salim Qayum.

Ambassador Jawad thanked LISD Director and Founder Dr. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and H.S.H. Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein for convening the timely conference to discuss the challenges facing Afghanistan and to identify ways to establish peace and prosperity in the country. The Ambassador sought assistance from H.S.H. Hans Adam II to support the establishment of a Management Academy in Afghanistan, and discussed a series of issues including President Karzai’s September trilateral meeting with Presidents Bush and Musharraf. 

“I am pleased to report that the trilateral meeting was very cordial and constructive. President Karzai and President Musharraf agreed in principle on three key areas of cooperation in the war against terrorism with the full support of President Bush,” the Ambassador said. “First, the two Presidents agreed to empower tribal leaders and strengthen traditional mechanisms of governance on both sides of the border. They agreed to hold Jirgas meetings in both countries and personally attend them to secure full tribal support in the war against terrorism. The Presidents also agreed that trust and confidence should be the basis of their common commitment to eliminating the sources of terrorist training, funding, and motivation.”

Ambassador Jawad said the agreements of the trilateral meeting could be the start of a new chapter in Afghanistan’s partnership with Pakistan in the war against terrorism, but stressed that the process of organizing tribal leaders in both countries would take time. “But I am optimistic that it can pay off if we follow through. President Karzai has firmly committed to do our share, and we are confident that our friends in Pakistan will do their equal share.”

Speaking in the economy and infrastructure session of the conference, Ambassador Jawad pointed out that Afghanistan’s reconstruction had received significantly less resources than other post-conflict countries. “Per capita assistance for Afghanistan is 1/10th of that for Bosnia and 1/4th of that for Iraq. From 2002 to 2011, the international community has pledged $27.9 billion towards rebuilding Afghanistan. They have committed $17.3 billion so far, and actually disbursed $11.8 billion including grants and loans,” he said.

Ambassador Jawad explained that disbursed funds had not been efficiently utilized, while significant aid was needlessly by multi-layered contracting to private firms with large overhead costs. As a result, adequate resources have not reached the government institutions where they are most needed, creating a cycle of brain drain where qualified officials exit the government to accept higher-paying, low-skill jobs with non-government institutions. Ambassador Jawad stressed the importance of strengthening the human resources within the Afghan government. In order to build the capacity of the government, he recommended increasing the proportion and amount of financial resources channeled through government institutions. The Ambassador called on the donor community to coordinate their efforts with the government of Afghanistan to address the country’s reconstruction priorities as guided by the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. “Rebuilding transportation infrastructure, building electricity transmission lines, exploiting our natural resources, and providing means of alternative agriculture to Afghan farmers are key to greater stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and the whole region,” the Ambassador commented.   

In a luncheon working group, First Secretary Haidari discussed business and investment environment in Afghanistan, and ways how to develop Afghanistan’s private sector. He highlighted the government’s efforts through the Afghan Investment Support Agency to attract and facilitate investment in Afghanistan. “Over the past five years, the government has enacted the most business and investment friendly laws to ensure that private sector truly becomes the engine of economic growth in Afghanistan on the long run. Under our investment laws, which allow 100% repatriation of funds, the first mover investors are reaping huge profits, particularly in the telecommunications and construction sectors,” Haidari said. He strongly advocated for an expansion of sustainable micro-credit programs that could overtime turn Afghanistan’s informal economy into a competitive market system. “Our natural resources sector is open for investment. We are actively pursuing investment in exploiting our recently assessed natural resources in northern Afghanistan for domestic use and export,” Haidari commented.    

    

H.S.H. Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein, officially convened the conference, followed by an opening plenary session on the current security situation in Afghanistan.  Panelists of the opening plenary included Commander of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Robert P. Finn, and NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Daan Everts. Additional conference sessions focused on issues relating to economy, infrastructure, energy, natural resources, and mining; the rule of law and effective governance; and international actors in Afghanistan. Keynote addresses were delivered by Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan Thomas Koenigs, Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, and EU Special Representative to Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell. Additional participants included leading academics, diplomats, government representatives, policymakers, and field practitioners as well as representatives from international organizations and private-sector businesses active in the region.

For more information on the conference, please visit http://www.princeton.edu/~lisd/afghanistan.html

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