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Ambassador Jawad Addresses Students At UC Berkeley

Ambassador Said T. Jawad spoke on April 17 at UC Berkeley on “Winning the Peace in Afghanistan, Challenges and Opportunities.” UC Berkeley students and faculty turned out to show their support for peace and to inquire about Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

In his remarks, the Ambassador outlined the connection between regional stability and global security, discussed how new U.S. aid to Afghanistan would be allocated, and gave a detailed report of the challenges that lie ahead and the progress of public health and women’s rights throughout the country.

Ambassador Jawad emphasized the need for expedient and effective aid delivery, better international coordination with the Afghan government, the Afghanization of the reconstruction process, increased coordination between international and NATO allies, and a unified international counter-narcotics strategy. He reported that of the $30 billion dollars that has been pledged to Afghanistan since 2001, $19 billion is a firm commitment until the year 2009 and $12.8 billion has already been disbursed; however, of that amount, only $3.7 billion has been channeled through the government budget.

The Ambassador responded to audience concerns about security in Afghanistan, and expressed his confidence in the joint counter-offensive currently being executed against the Taliban by ISAF and the Afghan National Army.

“Is Afghanistan more secure today than it was five years ago? Unequivocally. Are we in danger of backsliding if we do not confront the extremists who are committed to our destruction? Most certainly,” said the Ambassador. “Across Afghanistan last year, the number of roadside bomb attacks almost doubled, attacks on international and Afghan forces increased nearly 300%, and suicide bombings grew nearly 500%. Peace has not yet come to Afghanistan.”

The Ambassador also highlighted the incredible progress that has been made in Afghanistan over the last five years, highlighting the economic revitalization of the country and the central role that the Northern California Afghan Diaspora is playing in revitalizing the country through a combination of investment, charity work, and exchange programs.

“Afghan entrepreneurs have launched successful cellphone networks, banks, travel agencies and even a local bottled-water company. There are many investment opportunities in Afghanistan’s agricultural, manufacturing, infrastructure, service, and natural resources sectors. We have a proven track record of consistent double digit economic growth,” he said.

Ambassador Jawad closed his remarks by encouraging the student audience to study and travel to Afghanistan, and advocated the creation of new scholarships for promising Afghan students hoping to study in the United States.

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