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DG Interview: His Excellency Said Tayeb Jawad, Afghan Ambassador to the United States

Development Gateway

His Excellency Said Tayeb Jawad is the Afghan Ambassador to the United States. He has served as Chief of Staff of President Hamid Karzai, President’s Spokesman, Press Secretary, and the Director of the Office of International Relations at the Presidential Palace between March 2001 and September 2003.

Ambassador Jawad is a diplomat with the synergy of an excellent academic background and extensive experience in formulating strategies and implementing policies in Afghanistan. His experiences in managing reforms in a fragile environment have made him instrumental in rebuilding national institutions in Afghanistan. In addition, he is a renowned writer and commentator on Afghan and international affairs.

During his tenure as Chief of Staff to President Karzai, Ambassador Jawad was responsible for formulating policies, building national institutions, prioritizing reforms and implementing the President’s directives. He accompanied the President and managed all foreign trips and state visits. He actively participated in bilateral meetings with the heads of states and governments.

As director of the Office of International relations he advised President Karzai on a range of domestic and international issues, as well as security and reconstruction matters. Ambassador Jawad observed cabinet meetings and participated in the National Security Council meetings. He worked
closely with the US and Afghan military experts on rebuilding the Afghan National Army and reforming the Ministry of Defense.

As a legal professional, he drafted legal documents and presidential decrees, and reviewed and revised major treaties and agreements. He has been closely involved with the process of drafting Afghanistan’s new constitution, and served as a liaison between President Karzai and the constitutional commission.

DG: What were some of the key areas of contention when the draft Constitution was debated at the Loya Jirga?

After three decades or war and violence, Afghans are enjoying the opportunity to express their opinion freely and share ideas about how to build their war ravaged country. The people of Afghanistan are univocally demanding peace, security, national unity, and national institutions, such as national army and national police force. While the objective is the same, the people are suggesting different ways and means of achieving it. The people demand
an effective government and a system that guaranty stability and unity of power.

DG: What role will Islam play in governance?

Afghans are devoted, moderate Muslims and proud of their tradition and heritage. They would like to see the preservation of traditional and Islamic values in their society. Islam does not contradict with good governance. Governance is based on professionalism, efficiency and transparency,and we are moving towards a system, where all major civil service appointments are based on

DG: According to the Constitution, how will the power be shared between 1) the
Presidency and Parliament and 2) the central government and provincial authorities?

While under a typical presidential system the power of parliament is rather limited; our new constitution provides for a strong parliament and better system of check and balance. The executive power and major decision of the president is, in most cases, subject to "approval" by the parliament. Afghans are demanding a strong, stable and united country. The memories of a country divided among warlords, having many currencies and destruction of our country under disguise of ethnicity and religion still haunt the Afghan people. They are determined to end factionalism, warlordism and illegal power exercised by the local commanders, warlords and drug barons. To build a united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, and to empower the people of Afghanistan, the constitution provides for provincial and district councils or Shuras.

DG: How will the new Constitution and upcoming elections bring together various ethnic factions?

Afghanistan is a mosaic of various ethnic groups. The beauty of Afghanistan is in its cultural and natural diversity. The various ethnic groups are together. They have lived with each other for thousand of years, they all fell victims of terrorism and tyranny. They demonstrated their spectacular unity during the proceedings of the Constitutional Loya Jirga. Foreign intervention,war and violence imposed on Afghan armed factions that were-and some still are- trying to acquire legitimacy under the name of ethnicity or religion. Afghans would like to see an end to the rule of gun and power of armed factions. The election will help end factionalism and build a civic society.

DG: What were some of the challenges faced by female delegates at the Loya Jirga?

The female delegates had the most progressive and most nationalistic positions and views throughout the proceedings of the Loya Jirga. They were well respected -and received strong support- by their male colleague for their courage and devotion to the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan. One delegate complained that she was not able to prepare a written speech,
since she was not able to read. She said that she wanted to make sure that her daughter will not face the same challenge. She wanted school and education for all girls in her village.

DG: What provisions are present in the Constitution to ensure women's rights?

Women enjoy the same rights as men. They can run for any office; they can vote, elect or be elected to parliament or any other governmental body. In the parliament upper house special quota is allocated to women.

DG: What role will women play in the governance of Afghanistan?

Legally they can play any role that they want. Practically, it will take time for the women to acquire the position that they are entitled to. Both Afghan men and women are lacking the necessary professional skills. Unfortunately, in the past the women were either deprived of their rights to education under Taliban, or the war and lack of security prevented them from enjoy their rights to education. This is why President Karzai has indicated on many occasions that the best guaranty for women rights is to provide them with equal access to education. Last year more than two million girls enrolled into school.

DG: What are some of the key security threats in Afghanistan? Is it likely to dismantle the political progress? How can these security threats be overcome?

All security threats are due to terrorist infiltration from across the border. These threats will not dismantle the political progress, but it could slowdown the reconstruction pace. To overcome the terrorist threat we must enhance regional cooperation in our common fight against terrorism, expedite the training of the Afghan national Army and national police force, build national
institutions, fight narcotics, expand the International Security Assistance Force to all major urban centers, and increase the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

DG: What are some of the challenges to building a broad based government in

The biggest challenge of governance in Afghanistan is lack of human capital and national institutions. The current government is broad based -it was elected by almost absolute majority in the Loya Jirag or the Afghan national council-, but it lacks the means and tools to deliver the service to the people of Afghanistan.

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