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News and Views

Ambassador Jawad Interviews with Bloomberg's Mike Schneider

Ambassador Said T. Jawad was interviewed by Bloomberg's Mike Schneider on October 14, 2008. Below is a transcript of the interview. Click here to see a video of the interview.

Mike Schneider: All right, the situation in Afghanistan. A new UN report saying the insurgency is spreading and getting worse, Taliban attacks on the rise, and today a bomb killed three in the Eastern part of Afghanistan. Nine more were killed when a bomb destroyed their bus in a Southern province. What does any of this say about the future of NATO operations there? U.S. Operations? Joining us now from Washington is the Afghan Ambassador to the U.S., Sayed Tayeb Jawad. Mr. Ambassador it is good to speak with you once again, since we last spoke, reports tend to indicate that the situation has gotten worse, do you agree with those reports?

Ambassador Jawad: Yes, I do agree that the violence in Afghanistan is increasing, and the reason for the increase of the violence is three-fold. First, in the past six years we never had enough security forces– combined Afghan and international security forces–on the ground in Afghanistan. Second reason is that we, as the Afghan Government, never received adequate resources to provide adequate protection and services to our people. Third, the issues of the operations of terrorist camps on the outside border of Afghanistan continue to be neglected by our international partners.

MS: There are some who say that the Karzai government is simply not up to this job, there are some who accuse it of being riddled with corruption. Is the government part of the trouble?

AJ: Definitely not. President Karzai is the most ethical, the most hard-working leader that we have had, not just in Afghanistan but probably in the World. He is working very hard, but he has a very difficult job. He has to co-ordinate with 40 different partners who are coming with different priorities and different capabilities; he has to meet the expectations of the Afghan people. And we see clearly where the international community has worked with us, such as building the building the National Afghan Army, we have succeeded. In the areas where there is under-investment by our partners, of course there will be challenges. So the accomplishments and the challenges should be shared by our international partners, because it is an international undertaking.

MS: Mr. Ambassador, last [time] we spoke, I recall we talked about some of the funds that were going there to support the Government, and as I recall, and correct me if I'm wrong, part of the problem was you had said that some of the funds were ear-marked, or related to what some might consider pork back here in the beltway of Washington. Does that sort of situation still prevail? Are you getting the kinds of funds necessary, and are they being freed up to go where they need to go?

AJ: Not all of them, frankly, you completely recall the situation properly; with the exceptions of our ministry of Education and Health, the majority of the funds that we received, both from the U.S. and other partners, are being spent outside the channel of the Afghan Government and through NGO's or international organizations. We would like to see more of this money being channeled to the Afghan Government, in order to build a capacity, and also, to increase the capacity of the Afghan Government to deliver services to be present.

MS: What happens if that doesn't happen?

AJ: Well, people will be discouraged in participating in the political process. When people are taking serious risks, going out, electing their President, their member of the Parliament, and soon they are realizing that the government does not have much say over how this money is being spent, they will have less incentive to participate in the political process of building a pluralistic, democratic society. And this is exactly the objective of the Afghan government and our international partners, and they should realize that, in order to do so they should invest more in building the
capacity of the Government.

MS: And the capacity of the government, and you and I spoke about this, I suppose 6 months or so ago, how has the capacity changed since then?

AJ: It is improving slightly, but since the security challenges have increased dramatically, we are more focused now on the security challenges as part of the efforts to increase good governance in Afghanistan, our president has appointed a new minister of the interior, a very capable Afghan leader, we have continued to improve to the extent that we can, but more resources needs to be channeled
through the budget of the Afghan Government

MS: Mr. Ambassador, the UN representative was quoted today as saying in his report that he does not anticipate that the Taliban attacks this Winter will ease up at all, do you agree with that as well?

AJ: Yes, I do agree, we anticipate an increase in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, because as I mentioned the total number of security forces are not adequate and the terrorist continue to receive logistical, ideological and financial support from outside Afghanistan. But we are prepared, both the Afghan government and the
NATO troops are prepared to confront that threat.

MS: What do you need in terms of manpower right now? How many more troops would be sufficient to meet this increasing challenge?

AJ: We need to double the number of the Afghan army from 80 thousand to about 140. We are working on that, so far we have trained only 80 thousand which is not adequate. And we will need an additional number of troops of about 15-20 thousand in Afghanistan to confront the immediate security challenges on the short term. In the long term the solution is to build the capacity of the Afghan National Army and Police Force, it's more sustainable, it's less expensive and [it’s] the real solution for Afghanistan.

MS: We hear reports of NATO cracking down on what's considered to be the narcotics infrastructure, and the world obviously knows the history of the drug trade, and how it has been used by those who seek to overthrow your government, as well. Do you see any signs of that as effective at all in terms of stopping the insurgents, stopping the Taliban from mounting operations at all?

AJ: We welcome very much NATO's decision in supporting us in our eradication and interdiction efforts. This is exactly what we've been asking for, to get more support in the areas of interdiction and also eradication by the international forces; we see a direct connection between narcotics, terrorism, lawlessness, and good governance. We will carry out the main efforts of eradication, but our troops needs the support of the NATO troops when they carry out their eradication missions, but more importantly, we would like our partners in the international community to help us with interdictions of some major traffickers; to help us with collecting proper evidence; to help us with building the capacity of the Afghan Court system and the Police system; to prosecute them and punish them, because they are really a serious threat for the security and stability and health of our own people in Afghanistan
and the rest of the world.

MS: The last time we spoke, once again, as I recall, you were of the opinion that most of the Al-Qaeda forces, Bin Laden and the others, were in Pakistan. Do you still think at this point, that they're there? And what do you think of Pakistan's new government and its efforts to cooperate, or at least to try to hold Taliban forces from moving back and forth
across the border?

AJ: The establishment of the new civilians’ government in Pakistan is very good news for Afghanistan and the rest of the world. We all should try to support the elected civilian government of Pakistan, they have a very difficult mission ahead of them. Terrorism in Pakistan is a threat to stability in Afghanistan, to stability in the region and to security in the world. The new government is committed, like we are, like you are, in fighting extremism, but their capabilities are limited. We have to make sure that the Pakistani army supports them and works with them sincerely in
order to fight extremism in Pakistan and the region generally.

MS: At this point, with the Presidential election coming on in less than a month in this
country, what is it likely to mean for Afghanistan?

AJ: I personally, and President Karzai, have met with both candidates, I think the United States is very fortunate to have two excellent leaders to choose from, both of them in their engagement with us have indicated that they would increase their support for Afghanistan, and we are ready to work for any of these elected leaders
of the U.S.

MS: Mr. Ambassador, we have to leave it there, we thank you very much and we wish you good luck.

AJ: Thank you.

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