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Political Counselor Focuses on Cultural Awareness at Military Bases

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari recently visited Ft. Drum, New York and Ft. Polk, Louisiana to discuss the peace-building operational environment in Afghanistan with the New York Army National Guard and the US Army 101st Airborne Division forces, both of whom will be deploying to Afghanistan in the near future.

Haidari thanked the US forces and their families for their unforgettable contribution to peace and security in Afghanistan. “Without your sacrifices and those of your families, the Afghan people would not have been where we are today. Afghans are your strategic allies in the war against terrorists and criminals, and you will be certain to have their full support and friendship throughout your tour of duty in Afghanistan,” he told the US forces.

He reminded the US forces of being the “honored guests of the Afghan people,” and discussed the sensitivities of Afghan culture. “I am very pleased with the level of cultural training that you receive before your deployment to Afghanistan. It is truly everything that you need how to work and operate effectively to help build peace in Afghanistan,” Haidari said. He stressed the fact that only the Taliban will stand to gain from civilian casualties and encouraged the soldiers to take every precaution in order to reduce civilian casualties. “We cannot afford to alienate our strategic allies—the Afghan people—as we continue to need their support to win this war and to secure the future of Afghanistan,” he stressed.

In addition, Haidari discussed challenges to governance and rule of law in Afghanistan, saying that most state institutions lacked the resources and capacity to execute their functions effectively. “Over the past six years, we have received far less security and reconstruction assistance per capita than other post-conflict countries. Also resources have been channeled outside the Government’s institutions,” said Haidari. He called for a revamping of the international aid delivery and implementation in Afghanistan. “Six years have taught us that we must build the capacity of the Government institutions and put Afghans in the driver’s seat. Today, we have a National Development Strategy with clear benchmarks and a coordination body that should be utilized to ensure aid effectiveness in Afghanistan,” Haidari added.

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