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Afghanistan in the Globalization Era

Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari addressed a symposium on “Transnationalism: Its Impact on South Asian Economy and Politics,” organized by the National Advisory Council for South Asian Affairs on August 10, 2006. Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Jawad at the symposium’s Ambassadors Luncheon, he said, “Over the past thirty years, Afghanistan has unfortunately been on the negative side of both the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras. While ‘division’ defined the Cold War, Afghanistan symbolized that ‘division’ between the United States and the former Soviet Union for a full decade from 1979 to 1989. In the end, Afghanistan helped defeat the Soviets, but failed to benefit from the promise of the globalization era that followed the demise of communism in 1991.” He added that although “many nations moved towards economic integration that defined the globalization era, Afghanistan disintegrated, as the international community abandoned the task of rebuilding it at the end of the Cold War. This effectively allowed the negative forces of globalization including transnational extremists, terrorists, and drug traffickers to further destroy Afghanistan and victimize our people.”

But international inaction towards Afghanistan ceased on September 11, 2001. The world finally came to our aid, and together we have gone a long way since five years ago. Today, we have the most progressive Constitution in the region, and our democratically elected president and parliament strive to prepare Afghanistan for becoming a subject of positive globalization. Hence we have aligned our foreign policy with the promises of globalization and reached every country in the region and beyond for cooperation based on trade, commerce, and investment. As President Karzai recently said, ‘a globalized world will consist of united regions that have geographical, cultural and economic commonalities.’”

Haidari noted that although Afghanistan is linked with all South Asian countries by deep historical and cultural ties, “we would like to enhance our economic ties with each of them bilaterally and multilaterally through regional mechanisms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). We are pleased to be the eighth member of the SAARC and look forward to participating fully in the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).” However, Haidari cautioned that South Asia could hardly realize the objectives of SAARC and SAFTA unless the region collectively learned from the positive experiences of other regional groupings, such as the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to do away with strategic adventuraism and focus on true regional economic cooperation so that together they could exploit the vast natural and human resources of “our region to move every South Asian nation above poverty line towards greater prosperity in the community of democratic and developed nations.”

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