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Inaugural Statement by President Ghani On the occasion of the Fifth Legislative Year of 16th Session of the Parliament

Mar 07, 2015



Statement by H.E Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
On the occasion of Inaugural of 16 th Session of the Fifth Legislative Year of the Parliament
In the name of Allah, the most merciful and most compassionate
H.E Hamid Karzai, the National Leader,
Honorable Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
H.E Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Honorable Speaker of the Lower House Mr. Ebrahimi,
Honorable Speaker of the Upper House Mr. Muslimyar,
Honorable Chief Justice- Mr. Rashed,
Honorable ex-Vice Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan- Mr. Qanoni and Mr. Khalili
Prominent Jihadi Leaders,
Respectful Members of the National Assembly,
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps- Honorable Ambassador of Tajikistan
Respectful Members of the High Council of the Supreme Court,
Honorable Special Representative to UN Secretary General in Afghanistan,
Honorable Cabinet Members,
Respectful MP’s and Senators,
Honorable fellow citizens,
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
I welcome the MP’s and Senators back from their vacation. I am honored to inaugurate the 5 th year and the 16 th legislative period of the National Assembly.
At the outset, I would like to pray for the souls of all martyrs, particularly those who have lost their lives during the recent natural disasters in the country and as a servant of the nation, I once again extend my condolences to you and to all our people. May their souls rest in peace!
The natural disasters affected 23 provinces of the country- including Panjshir, Badakhshan, Parwan, Nooristan, Laghman, Nangarhar, Kabul, Takhar, Herat, Kapisa, Daikundi, Samangan, Kunar, Baghlan, Paktia, Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul, Bamyan, Badghis, Farah, Ghor and Balkh.
The avalanches in Panjshir were more catastrophic than any other disasters in the country and it was a tragedy at the international level. Badakhshan, Parwan, Takhar, Nooristan, Nangarhar, Laghman, Daikundi and Bamyan provinces have had the second highest number of victims due to these disasters. Our efforts for provision and coordination of emergency aids have been relatively effective and I thank all those officials who have worked under the leadership of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah to this end. Roads and tunnels have been cleared and further work is ongoing.
The weather condition shows that we are faced with climate change, so we need to further enhance our disaster management capacity both at national and provincial levels. Our system for timely and quick response and coordination for natural disasters should be further strengthened.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Any progress and achievements we have made is because of our political unity. The establishment of the national unity government was an unprecedented political step in the region. Initially, the region had little trust in the success of our national unity government but now it believes in the political maturity and strength of Afghanistan.
This step has institutionalized the culture of tolerance in the country. We proved that the best approach to settle a political difference is through a political settlement. The culture of tolerance has not only been strengthened within the government but is also clearly seen in relations between the three branches of the state.
Currently, the three branches of the state are no more at odds, but rather moving forward in harmony and cooperation. It was due to this cooperation with the legislative branch, that a national consensus was created to broaden Afghanistan’s strategic relations with the world, and as the President of Afghanistan responsible for its implementation, I would like to thank you honorable MP’s and Senators for this.
National authority was transferred in difficult and fragile circumstances. There was no confidence in stability of Afghanistan. There were doubts about continued international assistance and cooperation. It was believed that some provinces would fall out of our control. Our country was turned into a battlefield for proxy wars. At the same time, the region, the Islamic world and the international community faced new threats. The nature of this war has been changed fundamentally. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya opened a new page in serious threats. The war in the Middle East is waged to topple its states. The change from Al-Qaida into Daesh (ISIL) is the largest negative development facing the Islamic world and the region. States are interconnected like chains. So, failure in one state affects the others and confronts them with serious menaces.
Pakistan’s military operation in Waziristan forced the terrorist groups to flee to our side of the border. Amid such fragile circumstances and dangerous environment, both at national, regional and international as well as Islamic world level, we took key steps in four different areas.
Based on the formula of the national unity government and careful understanding of the regional environment, we have taken the initiative in our own hands both at the regional, international as well as at the Islamic world levels. Among the neighboring and Islamic countries, a consensus is being reached that a stable Afghanistan is the key to their stability. China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and Turkey are countries that have contributed to this consensus. Our relations with each of those countries are based on true understanding and analysis of shared interests and common threats. In sha Allah (God willing), we will manage to turn Afghanistan from a ground for proxy wars into Asia’s transit route and crossroad for regional economic integration.
We should not forget that the great public participation in the elections, true understanding of situation and the problems, leading the country with people accepting their responsibility have all brought about these changes. Today if you ask Afghan ambassadors in the region and in the neighboring countries about Afghanistan, they would clearly tell you that at the regional level, the image of Afghanistan has seen a fundamental positive change.
Fully controlled by Afghanistan, our foreign policy today is based on a stronger national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests. The authority which is the product of the national unity government has laid the foundation for our foreign policy and is underpinned on the basis of short, mid and long-term national interests.
I want to assure all of you that the initiative is in our hands and in sha Allah, Afghanistan will be a point where conflicting interests change into cooperation based on long-term interests. Afghanistan will be turned into a hub for integration among Muslim and regional countries.
The positive outcomes of our active foreign policy at the regional level and in the Islamic world, has earned more trust at the international level. Europe, the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada reaffirmed the commitments they have made in Brussels for security cooperation and in in London for economic assistance. Our visit to the United States and Canada will further enhance our relations at the international level.
In addition to the long-term impact, our active foreign policy does have its immediate positive outcomes. We have received the annual 4.5 $ billion pledge to sustain and strengthen our security and defense forces up to 2018. Now, our security and defense forces have sources for funding and enablers for their equipping and education.
Here, I would like to raise another issue. By completion of the security transition, a wrong assumption began to take shape that the Afghan security and defense forces have no motivation and capacity to protect their people and their country. Based on this assumption, the war has been imposed on us and continued even in the winter, efforts started to overtake some provinces and enemy attacks intensified.
Let me clearly state that as the Commander in Chief, I take pride in our armed forces. With courage and bravery, our security and defense forces foiled enemy plots. Our forces no more act in defense but rather took the initiative and are offensive. As a result, the Dangam conspiracy failed. Zulfiqar military operation in Helmand is in full swing with full success and with stronger coordination among all security agencies. We have an organized and coordinated plan for insecure provinces, the results of which you will see in future.
The world should recognize that the Afghan government is strong with unwavering determination to protect their country and their national honors. Our security and defense forces have the required capability and capacity to have the monopoly over the use of legitimate force. As security remains as the strongest demand of our people, I have devoted 60% of my time to efforts aimed at improving security.
Honorable MP’s and Senators,
I ask you and all the nation to unanimously support your security and defense forces. I thank the country’s Ulemma Council and religious scholars who have resolutely supported their security and defense forces. Definitely, it is one of the religious obligations of all of us.
I want to emphatically repeat that the life of each of our citizen is of vital important for us all and we will not spare any use of legitimate force to protect the life of every Afghan. We act strongly and timely in our decisions. Our strategic silence shows our strength in action. Our government is not careless and will not be so.
The insecurity in the country has both political and criminal elements. Legitimate use of power is a necessary tool for the government. There has been a mutual contract between the people and security forces; the people support their security forces, and they in return will protect the people. Our soldiers, officers, NCOs, and Generals have to have protection and responsibilities within law. New and professional cadres have to be recruited to the security sector. Retirement, rewards and punishment systems should be exercised.
The consensus is that our security forces be national, professional and apolitical. I therefore call on all political figures in the country to refrain from any interference in appointments or transfers within security agencies.
Another dimension in our foreign policy is that the status of economic transit is changing fundamentally. The latest reports show that 60% of our commercial goods in the border of Karachi are processed in a day. We expect more progress in next three months. We have remarkable achievements on Lapis Lazore Route that links Afghanistan to Europe through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey – thanks for the cooperation of the relevant countries.
The Turkmen railway is set to soon be extended to the border in Aqina. We are determined to link the gas pipeline, railway and power to Kandahar through Herat, and to the South through Northern provinces. This would be a big step connecting Afghanistan and Sough Asia to Europe. China has committed US$330 million. By the end of Chinese New Year holidays that is in two weeks from now, a Chinese technical delegation will visit Afghanistan to assist us, in consultation with other donors, in developing national infrastructure plan. The Wakhan corridor specially is of high importance for us.
We have finalized the assessment of all foreign funded projects in Afghanistan. Let me assure our people that US$1 billion available for water management and few billions for other infrastructural projects. To this end, we will bring all macro and micro projects within a national program to have water and land better managed, and this is a good news for our farmers. This program will help us protect our farmers and landlords against any affects of droughts and floods. Similarly, we will take prime steps towards other infrastructure projects so that based on a national infrastructure plan, each individual Afghan understands what is done for him/her. The plan will soon be placed before parliament.
Though the main focus has been on security, we have also done much on economic aspect. In the forthcoming months, we will switch our efforts to economic programs and administrative reforms.
Our next steps for establishing physical infrastructures will focus on the followings:
1st – Strengthening effective development programs.
2nd – Turning scattered projects into one comprehensive national development program.
3rd – Identifying the elements behind inability of government agencies to spend their development budget.
The regional environment as well as in the Islamic world have changed for better in terms of establishing peace thus creating hopes in the country. Enduring peace requires thoughtfulness. I have had a series of consultative meetings on peace issue and will continue to have more, with the administration board and members of the national assembly in particular. The entire nation wants peace. We are now in a position of strength drawn from the National Unity Government’s unified stance for peace.
The new environment in the region has led to a unified understanding of the threats and the needs of cooperation for regional stability. I want to underline that we will not let Afghanistan become the ground for any proxy war.
The Islamic World has a clear stand against violence and for peace. Few days back more than 450 Islamic scholars from around 117 countries met in Mecca where they made in depth discussions on defining the causes and factors of terrorism and violence, and the abuse of the flag of Islam to justify the act of terror, as well as the solutions.
Our deep relations with the Islamic World help us, practicing orders of Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) overcome the challenges.
We will strongly protect the 13-year achievements and won’t allow that the price of peace be greater than the price of war.
I want to declare that a lasting peace is not a tool, but an objective that cannot be achieved by shedding innocent blood, but rather by understanding and talks, set to begin soon. Or else, the responsibility will be with those who don’t respect the sufferings and the sacrifices of people; and the Muslim Nation and the history will judge them.
Peace is a national responsibility and not a government’s alone, thus the politicians, religious scholars, women and youth should all raise the voice of peace and discharge their responsibility.
To eliminate corruption, we have taken comprehensive measures and will continue to do so. The three-tiered judicial system issued decision over the case of Kabul Bank. The courts proved their impartiality and their commitment to transparency and accountability. Here, I would like to thank the Acting Chief Supreme Court and all other judges.
The debts amount taken away from Kabul Bank has been identified, and the debtors should pay the amounts due. The shareholders are mostly ready to pay their due debts, or else, the court decision will be practiced. Our primary assessments show that the debts payment will be speeded up in coming months. The cabinet of Afghanistan has approved a ruling for collecting the debts.
We have assessed all banks in the country, and the banking system reform plan will be executed shortly. We will maintain transparency in the banking system that for sure leads to establishment of broad based companies in the country.
Lack of a legal framework and problems in law enforcement are the reasons of unsuccessful economic and development programs and weak economic growth.
To ensure the rule of law, three branches of the State are to stay in harmony and cooperation. The government has taken the following steps to this end:
- Strengthening and supporting Taqnin Department of Justice Ministry in terms of structure and professional capacity, and provision of other required facilities.
- The decisions of Council of Ministers that require policy development, will be presented to National Assembly after the cabinet.
- The Legislation Committee of Council of Ministers will review the laws not developed on the basis of institutional coordination, and recommend the relevant amendments which after the cabinet approval will be placed before the House.
- The laws on which the Constitution has explicit provision, like the Fundamental Organizations Law, will be developed on a priority basis and presented to the parliament for approval.
- The laws causing obstacles to the economic growth and weakening the effectiveness of the government efforts, will be reviewed and the amended version will be placed before the parliament for approval. A 4-year program will be launched to this end.
- The current enacted laws will be reviewed and the conflicts, if existed, will be amended and sent to the House to seek approval.
- We have all means available to support and strengthen the courts, Supreme Court and Justice Ministry for which a proper mechanism will be established.
- The establishment of elections reforms commission will happen soon. This commission will work on short, mid and long-term reforms so an environment of trust in conducting elections could be maintained.
Our people need jobs and to feed their children. Our focus in the months to come will primarily be on economic development, job and housing for our people. Initial steps have been taken, but practical work is yet to begin.
We are fighting the problems inherited to us of the recent three decades. I fully understand the problems. I personally listen to peoples’ complaints either face to face, on mass media or social media. I am in constant touch with people and the lawmakers as well. I personally follow up on measures to address the complaints, but some need more time. I do remember my pledges to which still am committed, and will strive to put them in practice.
I will play the role of a bridge to Afghan young generation bringing them to the position of management and leadership, we recently did not have major steps in this regard though, but I do remember the promise I have made to our youth. We are moving to the right direction and you will enshallah witness the achievements.
Dear Afghan youth and women!
We will stay behind you the same as you have done with the government of national unity. We are facing temporary challenges and obstacles that would be soon removed.
Based on my directions, reforms will soon take place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our objective is to have the young generation on the lead for which new principles have been established. Employment will be offered on merits. Those appointed on the basis of personal relationships have to sit tests again or they will be sacked. Recruitment and repositioning in Foreign Affairs Ministry will take place based on explicit criteria.
Dear lawmakers!
The remaining members of the cabinet will be introduced after the House finishes its election of a new administrative board. While challenges are huge, opportunities are also enormous. We cannot address the challenges but through unity and joint efforts.
Long life Afghanistan!




 
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