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News and Views

 Remarks by Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States

Said Jawad to the Atlantic Partnership


Washington, DC - In anticipation of President Obama’s historic address to the citizens of the United States, Ambassador Said Jawad made the following points to the Atlantic Partnership December 1, 2009:   



1.        We welcome President Obama’s strategy to gradually hand over the security responsibilities to our security forces. This is what we demand. We are ready to take full responsibility of our country’s security in five years. This will be done in a province-to-province basis. We are already in charge of security in Kabul and are practically leading in a number of provinces in Central and North Afghanistan. Within the next three years, we want to lead and conduct military operations independently.  The drawdown of US combat troops may start sooner, if other security and regional factors remain unchanged.

For an effective, smooth transfer, we want to establish a Joint Security Consultation Group with the US and NATO. 

The Afghan National Army is fighting alongside your soldiers. On average, 3 Afghan National Police officers are dying every day defending Afghanistan. We want to increase our share of responsibility. There is not a shortage of courage or manpower; there is a shortage of skills and equipment and funds to adequately pay and recruit better soldiers and police officers.

We need the US and NATO’s assistance with building the army and training the ANA (95,000) and the ANP (81,000).  Out of 2,375 Police Mentor Teams, only 1,050 (44%) are assigned. Out of 2,663 embedded army training teams, only 1,125 (44%) are filled. Out of 103 Operation Military Liaison Teams (OMLET), only 53 are assigned (55%).


We appreciate NATO’s willingness to send additional troops. We understand the constraints they are facing. If our NATO allies cannot send more troops and trainers, there are many other ways they can assist. An alternative is to pay the salaries of the ANA and ANP and to provide equipment. We should seek a synergy between various degrees of commitment and capabilities that our NATO partners are bringing to the table.

To further Afghanize security and development, planning is underway for 3 important international conferences, designed to find the proper mechanisms for a gradual transfer of security responsibilities and enhancing the pace of economic development.


A conference in London in late January 2010 will focus on security issues.

The Kabul Conference will focus on developing two new sets of compacts; one between Afghanistan and our international partners and neighbors to set forth mutual expectations and responsibilities. A second compact between the Afghan Government and the Afghan people to recommit to government reform and to fight corruption.

A third conference will take place in Tokyo to focus on international aid, funding, reconstruction and development.

2.        We heard very clearly your message about corruption and governance. We know that our government institutions are not fully functional. That is why you and 60 other countries are in Afghanistan. 41 of them have troops on the ground. We are grateful to every one of them. If state institutions were fully functioning, there would not have been state failure, the Taliban, and the Bonn Agreement, NATO, and ISAF in Afghanistan.


Improving governance is our primary responsibility and we want to move quickly and decisively on key governance issues. We are finalizing a comprehensive roadmap to combat corruption.  President Karzai has clearly stated that “Individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government.”

Over 600 officials were arrested this year and a dozen of former and current ministers are under investigation. We have one of the best cabinets in the history of Afghanistan and we are improving the quality of our governors and other officials.

The Afghan Government will fulfill its responsibilities to the Afghan people and the International Community through merit-based appointments at national and provincial levels.


Narcotics fund major corruption.   Targeting drug trafficking and drug barons is a cross-cutting priority in our anti-terrorist and anti-corruption strategies.

To fight corruption the country needs political will, adequate legal institutions and improved laws and procedures. We are working to adapt new laws and improve regulations.  For instance, the Constitution forbids nepotism but the penal code fails to stipulate a clear punishment for those who commit it. The Constitution calls for assets disclosure of public officials but there is no mechanism for penalizing those who lie or do not wish to comply. We are changing these laws. We are building special tribunals to prosecute corrupt officials.  The Afghan Government has recently broken a corruption ring at the Kabul airport worth tens of millions of dollars a year and the culprits will be prosecuted.

Corruption is a symptom of bad governance, not its cause. However, the challenges of good governance is not confined to bad governance, it is also due to weak governance and the absence of governance. We welcome President Obama’s civilian surge to strengthen our government capacity.


The political will to punish corrupt officials is now much stronger.  We are fully upgrading the capacity and mandate of the High Office of Oversight for the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy for detection and investigation.


However, we should listen to the people of Afghanistan. According to the Asia Foundation Survey, 36% of Afghan people think security is the biggest problem, 35% name unemployment and 17% name corruption. The order is very important. What the Afghan people demand is not only to eliminate corruption, but also to provide security and jobs.


Furthermore, the perception here in the media does not meet the reality in Afghanistan. According to the Asia Foundation Survey, 71% of people support the performance of the Afghan Government in the national level and 75% at the provincial level. 91% of people think that ANA is honest and fair, 83% have a very positive view of the ANP, despite its shortfall.


3.        There is no Afghan corruption which has infiltrated the spending of your funds and international aid money. However, the International Community has been slow to change their traditional means of delivering assistance. 80% of aid is delivered by donors directly, bypassing the Afghan Government. This must change. Over the next year we would like you to increase on-budget support in Afghanistan to 40% to support our national priorities. We are ready to be fully accountable for funds spent through the “Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.”


We must focus on capacity development, rather than capacity replacement; on buildings institutions not creating parallel structures, undermining officials and bypassing the Afghan Government. Fighting corruption cannot be accomplished by undermining the leadership of the country. Failure to partner with Afghans leads to failure. We need to work together.


“Winning the hearts and minds” is not a sustainable strategy, it is a charity gesture. You need to further strengthen mutual trust and confidence by respecting the dignity of the Afghan people and government. The “Afghan Face” strategy is ineffective; we need the “Afghan Hands” strategy.


Joint efforts by the US and NATO are needed to turn the tide of negative media around. We also expect from our partners greater transparency, mutual accountability, aid efficiencies and information-sharing. We should get most value of every development dollar that you spend in Afghanistan. We demand the establishment of a Joint Economic Cooperation Council to oversee and coordinate our efforts.


4.        Reconciliation and reintegration. We welcome President Obama’s emphasis on the need for reconciliation and reintegration of the Taliban. This has been our policy since 2004.  There must be one channel of conduit: the government institutions of Afghanistan. According to the Asia Foundation Survey, 71% of Afghans approves the Afghan Government’s reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. 


5.        Why are you in Afghanistan? The mission is clear. This is America’s war to destroy, disrupt and dismantle Al Qaeda; and NATO’s battle for regional and global security, as well as, Afghanistan’s struggle for survival. You are in Afghanistan primarily because of 9/11 and to prevent terrorist attacks on US and European soil. You are in the mountains of Afghanistan to defend the streets of the United States and Europe, to protect humanity from terror and tyranny and assist us in the process.


The benefits from a continuing US military presence in Afghanistan are mutual.  Your engagement in Afghanistan is vital to US and Afghan security interests. 


I know being in Afghanistan is dangerous.  The fact is, as we remember from history, not being in Afghanistan is far more dangerous. A setback in Afghanistan will embolden extremism regionally and globally.


Security aside, your presence has fundamentally changed the lives of millions of Afghans. Your economic assistance alongside your soldiers’ sacrifices not only prevented another major terrorist attack here, but also has paved the way for millions of our children to return to school, for our women to reclaim their basic human rights and for millions of refugees to, finally, return home.

6.        What is success in Afghanistan? Success is protecting the US by stabilizing Afghanistan through building Afghan security forces to prevent the return of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and for Afghanistan to serve as your stable and reliable partner in a volatile region.


7.        Why are we losing public support for the mission? Afghanistan is a tough mission. The precious lives of many Afghans, US and NATO member-countries are lost. There have been little effective efforts to explain the significance of this sacrifice and this mission for the safety and stability of Europe and the US. Leadership is about shaping public opinion, not following it. This is a tough decision we all should make.


8.        Who is your partner in Afghanistan? Your real longstanding partner is the Afghan people. The Afghan Government is actively seeking continued partnership with the United States.  The President of Afghanistan is your partner and he should be treated as such. His effectiveness also depends on how you work with and support him. 


9.        Success is within reach. Our goals are modest and our mission so far is successful. For each setback in the past 5 years, substantial gains have been made in a number of unheralded areas. Working with the international community we have delivered basic health care to more than 85% of the country, primary education to 7 million children, 40% of who are girls, and domestic revenue collection has increased by 60% during the past 6 months alone.


10.      Your presence is needed and welcomed by the majority of Afghans. The duration of your military engagement depends on the development of the Afghan security forces, regional developments and the threat of Al Qaeda.


11.      We need your continued support and partnership to improve the lives of our people and to build on our shared accomplishments and overcome our continued challenges. President Obama’s attention on agriculture is very welcome.


We appreciate your support of the Afghan Government, the Afghan Parliament and the Afghan people. 71% of Afghans approve of the performance of the Government. 63% of the people think they are more prosperous. 42% think that Afghanistan is going to the right direction, 78% of the population that the democracy is the best form of government in Afghanistan, and 82% of people support gender equality.


We have come a long way. Today, 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 medical assistance before. Access to electricity increased from 8% to 62%. We are not out of the woods yet.

Europe has been a viable partner in improving the quality of education and health care. Many Afghans speak German or French. Our NATO partners can set up extensive scholarship programs for Afghans to get trained in Europe so they may become the next generation of leaders and experts to run the country.


12.       Time matters. Together, we must act swiftly and decisively with mutual trust and respect to enable Afghanistan to stand on her own feet, and ultimately allow American and international troops to go home with deep gratitude of our people. The terrorist propaganda is questioning the International Community’s staying power and pushes the frustrated Afghan population to submit to terrorists and despair.


It is the time for all of us to stand together as partners; to strengthen a democratic, accountable and constitutional Afghan Government which fights corruption, improves governance and builds our security forces.  We can jointly accomplish our mission of defeating the terrorism, and making the world a better place for our children.   Thank you. 




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