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Remarks by Said T.  Jawad  Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States

 “Partners in Defense-Afghanistan at the Canadian Embassy”

 Embassy of Canada

Washington, DC

September 23, 2009

Senator Colin Kenny,

Ambassador Michael Wilson,

Generals,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen:

It is a privilege to be with you today. Thank you for inviting me.  I would like to extend my sincere gratitude, to Ambassador Wilson and General Langton, for holding this timely forum.

I am particularly grateful to Ambassador Wilson for his personal support and commitment to Afghanistan. Ambassador Wilson has done a superb job to further the cause of Afghanistan here in Washington, DC. This is one of several events the Canadian Embassy has hosted to highlight their significant contributions in Afghanistan, for which we are very grateful, as well as, raising awareness about the crucial role of Canada, as a reliable partner of the United States, in enhancing regional stability and global security. We are very thankful to the Ambassador and his dedicated staff.  We will certainly miss him here.

   

Ladies and gentlemen,

Canada is our reliable partner. Our young soldiers in the National Army holds great respect and admiration for the fighting capability of over 18,000 Canadian troops that have served in Afghanistan since 2002. They are courageous and inspirational.  They will leave a lasting legacy of fighting for peace, freedom and justice in my country.

In the past seven years, 18,000 Canadians have lived and served in my country. They have further strengthened our bond of friendship and camaraderie. Many Canadian soldiers have lost their lives in Kandahar and southern Afghanistan.  Those men and women are heroes.  They gave their lives for a very noble cause.  Afghans are humbled and grateful for their sacrifices, as well as, the assistance we receive from Canada, the US and many partner countries, all working together, to make this essential mission a success.  

Our mission to ensure that terrorists do not reestablish sanctuaries in Afghanistan, is vitally important.   After all, the Taliban and the Al Qaeda first victimized the Afghan people and then attacked you in your home.

The American attacks on 9/11 prove that the terrorists, Taliban, and Al Qaeda are clear and imminent threats.  Today, the stakes are high, but we cannot afford to let the Taliban win. Their return to power has obvious implications for regional stability and world security.

I know that there are some debates in Canada and here in the US about the size and duration of your military presence in Afghanistan. We fully respect your decision. I want to convey to you with utmost sincerity that we are grateful to you for making us the largest recipient of your development assistance, giving us over $1.2 billion in development aid through 2011. Your assistance has helped us build schools and train teachers, vaccinate children, save lives, empower women by funding microfinance initiatives and strengthen our civil society to build a pluralistic and stable nation.

But make no mistake, Canada’s and the United States’ brave soldiers are making a significant difference.  The bravery and sacrifice they display every single day allow Afghans to make great strides. 

The sacrifices of your troops, along with Afghans and Americans, made it possible for the new Afghanistan to join the family of democracies, to hold democratic elections, for millions of our children to return to school, for our women to reemerge from the shadows and claim their human rights, and for millions of refugees to return home.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Eight years have passed since the fall of the Taliban. But Afghanistan is facing increased security challenges. Unfortunately, our significant historic achievements are overshadowed by the sharp increase in violence, rising suicide attacks and roadside bombings in cities and along major highways.

Looking back, the United States, Canada, and our other partners came to help in Afghanistan after Al Qaeda’s vicious attack on September 11, 2001.

The Taliban were neither eliminated nor fully defeated. They were pushed into the countryside and across the border. The rapid collapse of the Taliban created unrealistic and excessive optimism, while the war in Iraq distracted attention and resources from Afghanistan. Therefore, the institution-building efforts were uncoordinated and ad hoc.

Subsequently, the security situation deteriorated due to the limited number of troops on the ground, underinvestment in building the police force and judicial system, and the meager resources applied to building the capacity of the Afghan Government to deliver services and provide protection to its citizens.

Furthermore, the regional aspect of terrorism was ignored. Terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan remained operational, and there was misplaced trust in Pakistan’s military ability and sincerity to fight terrorism.

While we benefited from the goodwill and broad presence of many countries, especially our NATO partners, the Afghan war theater lacked a practical unified military command and proper coordination of all civilian, political, military, national and international and actors.

We all did what we could with the limited military resources and reconstruction funds we had at our disposal. We could not do what was necessary due to shortages in funds and troops.  Today, we are at a turning point. If we do not choose the right strategy, it can turn into a tipping point.

We welcome General Stanley McChrystal’s most recent assessment and support request for additional troops and resources.  The current strength of the combined international troops and Afghan forces is not adequate to overcome the security challengers. On the short-term, we need to increase the number of international troops and improve their quality in order to provide room for more Afghan troops to be trained. The long term sustainable solution is to build the capacity of the Afghan Security Forces. We need a 250,000 strong army and a 150,000 strong police force.

Some of the key recommendations of the new assessment are in compliance with our continued demands, including:    

  • Change the military operation culture to connect with and protect the population
  • Partner with and build the Afghan Government’s capacity to deliver services and eliminate corruption
  • Eliminate the sources of terrorists training, indoctrination and ideological, financial and logistical support in the region
  • Set forth clear parameters for negotiation and reconciliation with the Taliban
  • Enhance civilian and military coordination and create a real unified command center with full Afghan participation
  • Partner more closely with the Afghan National Security Force. They should and will win this fight.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We need your continued support to further build on our accomplishments. Today, some 7 million children are going back to school, 36% of them girls. Women have become elected officials; senator and ministers; they are voters, students, teachers, and entrepreneurs. We have a vibrant and free media, with hundreds of private radio and TV stations. Schools and health clinics have been built with your assistance in far-flung villages that had never had them.

Time matters. We must act decisively and swiftly. Patience is in short supply among the Afghan population and the US Congress, I know. I disagree with those that argue that being in Afghanistan is dangerous. The fact is that, as we remember from history, not being in Afghanistan is much more dangerous. We would like to hear more clearly from our partners in the United States and Canada that they are committed to succeed. Pondering and hesitation will feed terrorist propaganda and confuse the frustrated Afghan population. The extremists capitalize on ignorance and despair.

I respectfully disagree with those who argue that we can fight the Al Qaeda with remote-controlled Drone and Tamahaac missiles. Al Qaeda bases were targeted in Afghanistan after the attack against US embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the SS Cole bombing in 2000. It did not prevent 9/11.

Afghans are proud of what they have accomplished. They do not want to go back and submit to terror and tyranny of the Taliban. Please stay with us.

Thank you.

 

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