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Speech of President Karzai at the Conference of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

Shanghai, China

Your Excellency Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies Heads of states,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am honored to have been invited to this session of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and am very pleased to be in this beautiful and historical city of Shanghai. Allow me to thank the organizers of the conference and the people of China for the very warm and generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

Prior to September 11, 2001, Afghanistan, as part of a scheme by foreign elements, had turned into a safe haven for international terrorism. It is evident that the situation not only dismantled Afghanistan’s economy and infrastructures and damaged the social fabric of Afghan society but it also caused great detriment to the other countries of the region and beyond.

With the defeat of terrorism by our people which was made possible through support and cooperation by the international community, today Afghanistan is a free country and a reliable strategic partner in the war against terrorism. We Afghans have endured the biggest sacrifices in the war against terror and have suffered the most in the hands of terrorism; that is why fighting it is at the top of our priorities at the regional level.

The people of Afghanistan are committed to do their utmost to make sure that our country does not become, once again, a center of destructive activities against other countries and that no terrorist groups could feel safe on our soil.

On the other hand, the presence of international community in our country to continue the war on terror, strengthen state institutions and to rebuild the economic infrastructures is essential. Such presence is in the interest of our country, the region and the world because the remnants of terrorism pose a global threat that can endanger the achievements of Afghanistan, the countries of the region and the international community. I have full confidence that the countries in our region concur with me on this issue and will continue to support us as before in achieving our common goals.

We believe that terrorism is a global challenge and that fighting it requires joint international determination, cooperation and effective measures. The critical issue is that terrorism has moved up into an organized destructive level and the terrorist networks have now gained considerable influence in some States. As we are committed to prevent Afghanistan from turning into a base of terrorist activities against others, we expect other countries as well to pay attention to this issue.

Your Excellency Mr. Chairman!

In the last four and half years, Afghanistan has taken great strides towards the establishment of a state based on rule of law, building state institutions, reconstruction, economic growth and trade between Afghanistan and countries of the region. These achievements are indeed objectives that are also incorporated as part of the SCO framework.

In addition to establishing political infrastructures in the country, we have paved the ground for the growth of economic cooperation as an important principle of our regional policy. We believe that the development and welfare of the people in the region cannot be achieved independently and that we have a shared destiny. We believe that the development of Afghanistan is only possible through cooperation with the other countries in the region. On our part, we have taken important steps. To cite just one example of such cooperation, the exports of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Afghanistan during the Taliban was no more than 25 million dollars a year while now this has risen to almost 1.3 billion dollars. We have reformed our laws dealing with Custom Duties, Taxes, Trade and Foreign Investment and will continue to do so to create further facilities for businesspeople and investors.

Your Excellency Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan wants to further strengthen coordination and expand cooperation with the SCO and bilaterally with the member states of the Organization. Particularly, Afghanistan is in favor of further SCO concentration to the fight against terrorism and extremism and is ready to participate in any way. Moreover, we believe that enhanced cooperation multilaterally and bilaterally in the areas of combating organized crimes, production and trafficking of illicit drugs and arms trafficking is in our interest.

The people of Afghanistan have made a commitment to the international community to continue their fight against the production and trafficking of narcotics and they are resolute in this struggle. Our success to fight this menace needs time and is dependent on the comprehensive support and cooperation of the countries in the region and beyond. In reality, Afghan farmers are the least beneficiaries of the drug trade. The main profit goes to international mafia organizations. These organizations must be fought decisively, and ways must be found to stop drug trafficking more effectively.

With our membership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as of July 2006, Afghanistan will turn into a bridging point between member countries of the SCO and SAARC. We consider this position as a good opportunity for ourselves and our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The road we have taken is the road towards peace, cooperation and progress in the region. Today Afghanistan, as part of this region and as a responsible and active member of the family of nations, is once again extending its hands of friendship and co-existence to all the countries, particularly to our neighbors and member states of SCO. We are grateful that our message of friendship has met with positive response from our neighbors and members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the last four years. I am confident that the continuation of this friendship will be beneficial in creating a safer world and contribute to long-term peace and prosperity of our people in the region.

I wish you, Excellencies, success in achieving our common humane and peace-loving aspirations.

Thank you


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