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Haidari Speaks at Seminar on “Supporting the Civilian Surge”  


Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari delivered keynote remarks and spoke on a panel discussion at a Seminar on “Supporting the Civilian Surge,” organized and hosted by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and the International Peace Operations Association at the University Club in Washington DC on August 19, 2010. Attended by representatives of the U.S. Government, the private sector, and the civil society, the main purpose of the seminar was to examine whether the current U.S. civilian surge has delivered the expected results and what business opportunities exist for the private sector to support the process. In addition to the following prepared remarks, which Haidari delivered, he made extensive comments on a number of key issues that were raised by the other keynote speaker and panelists. The talk was moderated by former Congressman Donald Ritter, a long-time observer and supporter of Afghanistan, who is now President-CEO of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC.

On issues of corruption, Haidari argued that corruption in Afghanistan is systemic and a two-way street where the international community must adhere to the long-term implementation of the Kabul Process and its key objectives so that the Afghan State increasingly stands on its own. He held that it is only over the past year under the current U.S. Administration that some attention has been paid to strengthening governance and rule of law institutions, or addressing Afghanistan’s civilian needs in general.

Haidari spoke from his personal ordinary background as an Afghan, who helped a relative quit his job as a civilian engineer with the Government to accept a job as a driver at a UN agency, where he is making ten times more than he did with the Government. Hence, he concluded that so long as non-state parallel structures (e.g. private contractors, NGOs, a family of the UN agencies, etc) continued competing with the Afghan State and robbing it of the aid resources donated in the name of Afghans, the status quo would continue and ultimately end in failure. He urged all participants and attendees to listen to the Government of Afghanistan, study the recent Kabul Conference Communiqué, and pay special attention to the recommendations of President Hamid Karzai in his Conference statement for succeeding in Afghanistan through an effective partnership, the principles of which Haidari discussed in his prepared remarks below.

Keynote Remarks by M. Ashraf Haidari At Seminar on “Supporting the Civilian Surge in Afghanistan” Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and International Peace Operations Association August 19, 2010

I would like to thank the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce and the International Peace Operations Association for holding this timely seminar to discuss “civilian

surge” efforts in Afghanistan.

I wish to express the gratitude of the Afghan Government and people to the United States for its continued support, both military and civilian, to secure and rebuild Afghanistan. We are grateful to the Obama Administration for its emphasis on the importance of increasing civilian assistance to Afghanistan now, and to maintain that support long after the NATO forces are gone from our country. 

We learned under the last Administration that a limited mission of counter-terrorism failed in Afghanistan, and is no longer enough to address our multifaceted challenges that must be confronted by integrated and strategically coordinated “whole of the state” and “whole of the government” approaches.

In the recent Kabul Conference, the Government of Afghanistan explained what we mean by the two approaches. Through the “whole of the state approach,” we need to strengthen each of the three branches of the government and to reinforce the constitutional checks and balances that guarantee and enforce citizen rights and obligations.


And through the “whole of the government approach,” we need to implement structural reforms to create an effective, accountable and transparent government that can deliver services to the population and safeguard against our national interests.

Indeed, to pursue and execute the objectives of these interdependent approaches is a daunting task that we cannot do on our own. But this can be done through an effective partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, including you, the private sector.

We’ve defined the principles of effective partnership in the Kabul Conference Communiqué, and I’m pleased to tell you that our nation-partners firmly committed to these principles’ realization, at the Conference.

Foremost, we and our partners agreed that partnership between the Afghan Government and the international community should be based on the leadership and ownership of the Afghan Government.

But this cannot happen unless the Afghan state institutions are given the capacity and resources to implement our National Priority Programs, or unless the international community realigns their off-budget development aid with the priorities of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

However, we are delighted that the international community restated their support for channeling at least 50% of their development aid through our core budget within the next two years. And they also expressed readiness to align their development assistance behind our National Priority Programs, with the goal of achieving 80% alignment in the following two years.

We believe that these critically needed measures will help us implement our development agenda, which focuses on job creation and broad-based economic growth. These strategic initiatives are driven by our National Priority Programs that include agriculture and rural development, human capital development, and economic and infrastructure development.

Indeed, the role of the private sector is integral to our comprehensive civilian strategy to ensure success now and the long run in Afghanistan. And that is why the Government of Afghanistan and our nation-partners recognized at the Kabul Conference that the success of our civilian strategy depends on the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment, including public-private partnerships in social and economic development.

I look forward to a discussion of your questions on opportunities for the private sector in support of the civilian surge to help Afghanistan slowly stand on our own.

Thank you.


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