Thank you for convening today’s annual coordination meeting of the OIC. Let me first convey the best wishes of the people and Government of Afghanistan to all esteemed participants. We thank Kazakhstan for its chairmanship of our organization, and reassure you, Mr. Chairman, of our full support in the way forward!
I join previous speakers in expressing pleasure at the presence of H.E. Ekmeleddin Ehsanoghlu, Secretary General of the OIC among us. And we thank him for his fortitude and commitment to the overall success of our organization.
We meet at a time in which our Ummah, and the rest of the world, are still faced with a multitude of challenges, threatening our collective well-being. Over the past year, we have seen armed conflicts escalate; poverty and destitution persist; and humanitarian crises strike at alarming rates. Regrettably, these challenges have threatened the well-being of millions of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
The gravity of the situation calls for a renewed commitment. We must work continue to give priority to the implementation of the Ten Year Plan of Action. Doing so will help us revitalize our organization’s role in the pursuit of a more safe and prosperous world order. We must harness the true potential in light of our strength as the second largest inter-governmental organization.
As a founding member of the OIC, Afghanistan has always attached high importance to the work of our organization. We have for long and consistently maintained a policy of brotherhood, solidarity and harmony with all members of our organization. We will continue this path, and stand in support of our brothers and sisters as they venture to realize their national aspirations.
In relation to the situation in Afghanistan, I have the pleasure to note that, since my address to last year’s annual coordination meeting, Afghanistan has taken epic steps towards securing the vision we set out eleven years ago: an Afghanistan which is fully stable and prosperous, and able to meet its own needs. To that effect, the Transition Process, commenced in July of last year, is being implemented steadily. Stage 3 of the process will be completed by November of this year – by which 75 percent of the Afghan population’s security will be provided by Afghan soldiers and police officers. We are on track to meet our overall goal of full security responsibility by the middle of 2013 and the full implementation of the transition process by the end of 2014.
The people of Afghanistan are enthusiastic about our long-term partnership with our international friends. Alongside the security effort, we are working diligently on the development and governance pillars of Transition. The Tokyo Conference this July put in place a solid framework of cooperation for Afghanistan’s sustainable growth and economic development for years to come. We are grateful for the participation of a significant number of brotherly countries from the OIC in Tokyo; and we count on the continued support of the organization in the way forward.
Afghanistan’s reconciliation efforts have gained momentum. The work of the High Peace Council has been revitalized with the appointment of its new Chair; the Council is busily engaged in comprehensive outreach both inside and outside Afghanistan. Having concluded its visit to Saudi Arabia, a high-level delegation of the Council, headed by Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani, will soon visit Pakistan for result-oriented discussions on ways to move the peace process forward. We are particularly grateful for the OIC’s support for the success of our reconciliation efforts and call on member states to do whatever they can to help us realize the aspiration and right of the Afghan people for a lasting and just peace.
Despite our progress on various fronts, the challenges facing Afghanistan are many, and they are daunting. The people of Afghanistan are still witness to a brutal cycle of violence, orchestrated and carried out by the enemies of peace in our country. These are elements who cannot tolerate seeing us fulfill our quest for peace and prosperity. Afghanistan is a proud and resilient nation that has overcome enormous challenges throughout its history. As part of our experience, we have been at the forefront in the global fight against terrorism for over a decade now. We have made great sacrifices, and suffered immensely in our struggle – indeed more than any other country in the world. Nonetheless, we are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate terrorism from our society, and renew our call for sincere and practical joint efforts to eliminate this deadly menace from our region and the wider world.
Far too often, terrorists seek to justify their actions under the pretext of Islam. As a result, terrorism is unjustly associated with our religion. The OIC, as an organization representing our Ummah, must act in unity to combat Islamophobia. As called for in the OIC’s Ten Year Plan of Action, we must enhance dialogue on ways to better emphasize the core values of Islam, namely peace, tolerance, understanding and co-existence. Undoubtedly, a successful fight against terrorism will not be achieved without a concerted international effort. We welcome recent steps taken towards the establishment of the international center on combating terrorism, paving the way for greater international collaboration.
Afghanistan deplores in the strongest terms the production of the recent derogatory film, insulting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and the core values of Islam. We reiterate our long-held position that freedom of speech should, by no means, be interpreted as a green light for defamation of prophets, religions and beliefs. By the same token, we should not allow such acts to undermine our shared goal of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among all religions and civilizations.
The overall situation in the Middle East remains demands our urgent attention. Achieving a just and peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is long overdue. Afghanistan stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian people in their quest for their national rights, including the right to an independent Palestinian state. We also support all efforts of the Palestinian leadership to become a full member of the United Nations family.
With regard to Syria, we are deeply saddened by the untold sufferings brought upon the people of that country by the ongoing cycle of violence. We are convinced that a more proactive role by the OIC would help achieve a lasting resolution to the Syrian conflict. The appointment of H.E. Lakhtar Brahimi, as the new Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, is a timely development, which provides new hope for the restoration of a durable peace in Syria. It goes without saying that the role of the OIC remains essential in helping to end the conflict in that country.
Meanwhile, in Mali, increased acts of terrorism have led to serious concerns that the situation in that country is deteriorating. And in Myanmar, we are deeply concerned about the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, who are facing an unjustifiable humanitarian catastrophe. Rohingya Muslims have for long been rightful citizens of Myanmar, playing an important role in the social, economic and political life of the country.
We must fulfill our moral responsibility as an organization in enabling them to regain their historic and rightful place and legal status in that country.
In view of the multitude of challenges facing our Ummah, we cannot overemphasize the importance of dialogue, and cooperation for effective solutions in overcoming them. Afghanistan is convinced that such collaboration, conducted in a spirit of solidarity and harmony, will be an asset in furthering our collective goals.
In that context, we thank, once again, His Majesty King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for his initiative in convening the fourth Islamic Solidarity Summit of the OIC last month in Makkah-Al-Mukkaramah. Afghanistan was a proud participant at that historic gathering; and we reiterate our full support of the Summit’s outcome, including the adoption of the four resolutions on the situations in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Mali.
I wish to also reiterate Afghanistan’s appreciation to the OIC for its solidarity with and support for Afghanistan as we continue our journey towards self-reliance, a lasting peace and prosperity.
I thank you!