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Articles & Op-eds

View from Washington
Ambassador Said T. Jawad
Afghan Scene Magazine

The September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States marked the culmination of state failure in Afghanistan under the Taliban where international terrorists found safe haven, terrorized and victimized the Afghan people, and used the Afghan territory as an operating and training ground for international terrorism. Al-Qaida and the Taliban posed serious threat to international peace and security and the national interests of Afghanistan.

The painful experiences of the 1990s in Afghanistan proved that some Afghan leaders such as Hamid Karzai were right in arguing that state failure in one country can affect peace and security in the whole region and possibly the entire world. More than 3,000 innocent American lives were lost in the terrorist attacks orchestrated by Al-Qaida operatives on September 11. The United States government responded and, with the assistance of the Afghan people, ended the tyranny of Taliban and destroyed terrorist bases in Afghanistan. The Afghan people welcomed President George W. Bush's decisive action against the Taliban and are grateful for United States' commitment to the long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The international community joined the United States in the effort to help Afghanistan rebuild after over two decades of conflicts. On 14 November 2001, five weeks into US-led operations in Afghanistan, the Security Council endorsed an urgent meeting of Afghan political leaders to form an interim, post-Taliban governing regime for the country and to establish a framework for its physical, political, and economic reconstruction. The Bonn meeting in early December 2001 brought together UN officials, Afghan leaders and members of the international community to discuss the country's future. Security Council Resolution 1386 provided for the creation of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its deployment to Kabul and the surrounding areas to help the Afghan Interim Authority create a secure environment in Kabul.

Initially, nineteen countries contributed troops and logistical supplies to ISAF. This number has grown close to 30 countries. The number of ISAF forces has increased from 4,500 to nearly 6,000 peacekeepers currently maintained by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Since the inauguration of the new government in Afghanistan, there has been strong bi-partisan support for long-term assistance to Afghanistan. Long before
launching the destructive attacks on the United States, Al-Qaida had been destroying and terrorizing Afghanistan and its people. Afghans were the prime victims of terror, as the Taliban had invited Al-Qaeda to base its campaign in Afghanistan. President Bush has repeatedly stressed in his remarks that "the United States and Afghanistan are united in our common
effort to defeat terrorism and to build a more secure and prosperous future for both American and Afghan peoples."

The United States and the international community share a common interest in
the reconstruction and sustainable development of Afghanistan to foster regional stability and bolster global security. The United States has firmly stayed the course in Afghanistan by helping the country accomplish several of its major goals outlined in the Bonn Agreement.

We have taken important steps toward the goal of becoming a viable partner and a
model to build our national institutions. A passage from the preamble of the new Constitution sets the course for the direction Afghanistan has taken: "We, the People of Afghanistan…for creation of a civil society free of oppression, atrocity, discrimination and violence and based upon the rule of law, social justice, protection of human rights, and dignity and ensuring the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people…have adopted this Constitution in compliance with the historical,
cultural, and social requirements of the era…"

The Afghan nascent army has now over 8,000 troops which have already deployed on combat missions with the coalition forces. They have conducted presence patrols and provided stability in the west and north of Afghanistan after outbreaks of factional fighting.

Infrastructure reconstruction has begun with the construction of Afghanistan's national ring road connecting Kabul to major provincial centers across the nation. The road has greatly shortened travel time allowing rapid flow of trade and movement of people.

In September of this year, national elections are scheduled to be held. Over 2 million Afghans have registered to vote as the process rigorously continues to include 9.5 million eligible voters to elect their future leader.

Credit is due to Afghans and their international partners for having accomplished the above goals. But they need to be reminded that many challenges remain to be tackled in the ongoing state building process in Afghanistan. Post-conflict rebuilding is an international enterprise that needs sustainable resources, strategic coordination, long-term political support, and cooperation of regional actors. There is international consensus that left untended again, the remaining challenges in Afghanistan will jeopardize the recent peace building achievements with grave implications for global peace and stability. We need sustainable US assistance to overcome many challenges facing us. We are realistic about our difficulties. Afghans face the general challenge of building a state and providing for good governance, after the complete destruction of all national institutions and a severe shortage of resources and human capital. To overcome these difficulties we must reform, strengthen and rebuild our government institutions to make them accountable, capable, and more representative, and we must improve local and district level governance. We must enhance government capacity to deliver services to all corners of the country, especially in areas prone to terrorist infiltration. All Afghans have not yet benefited from the peace dividend. We must eliminate corruption, nepotism and abuse of power that undermine our recovery

We are also facing the specific challenges of preparing the logistical and legal grounds for the election and building the institutions and the capacity needed to prepare and enact the enabling laws required by the new Constitution.

We continue to confront security challenges posed by the terrorists and other elements. To overcome security problems we must expedite the building of our national army and professional police force. We have asked our international partners to enhance security in the provinces by expediting the deployment of the ISAF and/or the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). We welcomed the NATO and the UN decision to expand ISAF outside of Kabul and to increase the number of PRTs from 12 to 16 before the election. We must accelerate the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration program, and prevent extremists from high-jacking democracy and the nation-building process for personal gain or factional agenda.

Narcotics pose a serious challenge for all of us. Cultivation and trafficking of narcotics go hand in hand with terrorism and warlordism. It is in our best national interest to fight them all. President
Karzai is committed to mobilizing all of our resources in the fight against narcotics. We know Afghanistan's heroin, which sells on the retail market for one hundred times the Farm gate price, is one of the sources of the illegal money that funds international terrorism and crimes across the region. It also finances the destabilizing activities of warlords and criminals in Afghanistan. The international community and our government cannot afford to wait as these destructive trends reverse our recovery process and further endanger global security. We shall mobilize all available resources to fight drugs in Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan has adopted a National Drug Strategy aimed at drastically reducing poppy cultivation, encouraging alternative income streams, destroying drug labs, strengthening law enforcement, training specialized national police units, and developing the justice sector to facilitate the proper prosecution and sentencing of traffickers. To overcome these challenges and to make the nation building process in Afghanistan irreversible, Afghans need and demand the accelerated support and the sustained engagement by the United States and the international community. Afghans cherish the growing partnership and warm friendship forged between our two nations.

By helping Afghanistan sustain the recovery process, the United States of
America and other nations are assisting to provide the future blueprint for democracy in similar societies, the very best antidote to extremism and terrorism.

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