Friday, May 29, 2015

Remarks by President Ashraf Ghani in the Indian Council of World Affairs

 

New Delhi, India

April 29, 2015

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Mr. Vice-President Ansari, Ambassador Bhatia, distinguished audience, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to be with you tonight. I apologize in advance for being much briefer than I intended to, because you cannot make the President of India wait.

First of all, my deepest sympathies to the people of Nepal. I have had the pleasure of walking the mountains of Nepal repeatedly, and having been a privileged observer during their remarkable process of democracy, all our hearts go to them. Himalayas are joint together among, tragically the earthquake has not been confined to Nepal, I have just learned that we have lost over 50 people in the province of Badakhshan to a recent earthquake.

I begin with ecology because the change in the climate forces us to think thorough continentally. Natural disasters do not respect political boundaries. Yet the states of the region continuously fail to take account of the need that … the imperative that we must cooperate to deal with these phenomena. And I am heartened by Prime Minister Modi’s assurance that we will all mobilize to tackle this very important issue.

In the next 20 years, I go straight to the proposition, in the next 20 years Asia is very likely to be transformed from a geographical notion to a continental economy. This is profound implications for the way subsequent centuries are going to be formed and shaped. But two trends compete, because ambassador Bhatia asked me to highlight both, challenges and the opportunities.

First, on the challenge side, the challenges that we are dealing with a new ecology of terror. Terror is becoming a system. Morally, it is reprehensible; sociologically it must be comprehended as a system. And what are some of the key characteristics of this new ecology? It is morphing very rapidly. If Al-Qaeda, with all respects to Microsoft, was Windows 01, Daesh is Windows 05.

Second, it is being imbedded within the criminal economy and an unprecedented amount of finance is being made available to this new ecology.

Three, it is becoming very brutal and focused on brutality in order to all the population.

Four, it is becoming networked in a very rapid rate. And fifth, it kills for the sake of killing and overwhelming.

Within this ecology of terror, Afghanistan both from a perspective of narrative and from prospective of operation is seen as a single theatre. Today, due to a series of convergent phenomena, various groups threatening stability in Asia are converging on our territory. They have been pushed over to our soil, because they thought that there was a weak spot.

We are the battle front. We, today in Afghanistan, are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbors from India to Russia. This fundamental challenge asks the state system to respond coherently together organically. But, what we know about bureaucracies is that they are slow to grasp, slower to act and slower to coordinate.

The main threat, therefore, is not from the phenomena the ecology of terror, the main threat is from lack of coordination by and between states, so that we can have a coordinated response to a state system where weaknesses within the state system are the opportunities on which the ecology of terror thrives. This, I hope, more than anything else makes one phenomena clear – there is no advantage to competition between and among states when it comes to the ecology of terror. Any states sponsorship of these networks or their accommodation threatens the system as such. And that is the challenge that we must deal with, because the system that we have inherited, you can date it any way and whichever way but take for convenience post 1945, is now under attack. Unless this resilience in coordination is injected into the system, we will all suffer.

The second aspect is the opportunity. So, let me highlight some of the key opportunities in terms of Afghanistan because the public perception, the metaphors are about the threat, that is why I have to  knowledge it out-front. Our first advantage in the next 25 years is our location. Until 18th century, our location was a key advantage, we were roundabout. A roundabout as (inaudible) best described it, is a place where all ideas, people and goods come to and go out of. We were an open space, we were a space that 500 year ago linked west Bengal to Nishnonivegrad no cash was required, one of the most sophisticated systems of bills of exchange were developed, a system of arbitration of disputes, a caravan trading system, a transport network, in other words, there was an economy both, symbolic and real.

This ecology was disrupted by the rise of European imperialism.  A space that was a roundabout was turned into a marginal space. We became the theatre of Kipling. So while India got reoriented to western economy, China got etc. Afghanistan got marginalized. In the next 25 years, our location is the key connector. All roads between Central Asia and South Asia, have to lead through Afghanistan. We are also the connector to East Asia and to West Asia. But this means that the potential, in order to realize the potential, we must think of infrastructure very differently.

It is not the old minority trade based system that would move the continental economy; it is a cluster of infrastructure, rail, road, pipelines, power, fiber optics and air. This cluster needs to be developed coherently in order to deliver the advantage. And development of that cluster, again just give you a slight indication, in the next 25 years globally there would be about $65 billion, the very system from $45 to $65 trillion of investment are required in infrastructure. About 60 percent of this is likely to take place in Asia.

We need to evolve very different instruments to realize this potential. But this potential would be transformative. If we were to realize this, well, the obvious question becomes, is the specialty that is required for this available? There, there are two answers. One, of course, South Asia remains the lease economic integrated region on earth. And unless South Asia grasps this opportunity within the next ten years, part of it will integrate much more to East Asia, part of it would integrate to Central Asia, and part of it would integrate to West Asia.

But the other part is for the continental economy and for the advantages of Afghanistan to develop, and that is not need to be contiguous develop. Why is that? Because our second advantage is our mineral resources. In the next 15 years, we will become the largest producer of copper in the world, the largest producer of iron in the world, one of the largest players in the gold market globally, and we have 14 of the 17 rare earth material. Our marble resources are enough to last the region 400 years, our construction material. 33% of Afghanistan’s natural resources have been mapped, the estimated worth is from $1 to $3 trillion.

With India’s and China’s transformation, this natural wealth awaits to become part of a continental framework. If you look into development of this natural wealth from a national prospective, you see limitations. When you see it from a regional prospective, you see immense potential and opportunity.

The problem with natural wealth, of course, is that it is a curse attached to it. If we are to avoid the curse of natural wealth, our first priority must therefore be our location. Our second priority, again, we have the head-waters for practically every single one of our neighbors. We only use 10% of our available water today with 1960s technology. The land under cultivation in Afghanistan is exactly about half of what it was in 1978. And, again, we are in the midst of 3 billion people. Water and cooperative arrangement regarding water is going to be the key to responding to changing global ecology, and to creating new regimes of sharing inefficiency, so we would actually put water and land second and then third being our natural wealth.

Our fourth advantage, we are a country of the poor people with enormously rich individuals. We have money, but we do not have capital. And the difference is, money does not become productive. In order for money to work and to become an agent of transformation, it has to become capital. And thereby, again, comes the immense experience of the region. India’s creativity in terms of financial instrument, in terms of the range of funds, and the enormous power of the Indian diaspora to transform money into wealth is one of the key issues.

Our fifth advantage is our entrepreneurship. The Silk Route and millennia of connectivity has given us remarkable capacity to work. With energy and thrive, we, Afghans are tough, we don’t accept hierarchy, because of that we thrive on networks. But the type of hierarchy that the market brings actually is a much more disciplined process.

So, if we have these advantages, what is it that prevents us, and what is it that we need in order to contribute both, to the rebirth of the Asian continental economy and to gain.

First, I use the word “rebirth” because for millennia there was a continental system. India’s textile exports to the west are part of every child’s story. But the amount of textiles that Northern India where we are sitting and today’s Pakistan exported to Central Asia and to Russia, is through scholarships determines was larger than the South India exported to Europe. These ranges become important.

As part of this, the fundamental challenge then shift to being conceptual. Why conceptual? Because, model of building economies are based on national boundaries. If we are going to realize Afghanistan’s immense potential, we must think regionally. Regionally because the experience of the region each single country enables us to cut time by a phenomenal extent. Take just one example, the amount of investment that India has made in technology, cost of research in development. If we wanted to start with a national model, that would require us 50 years to catch up. But thinking this to a comparative cooperative framework, allows us to master time much more quickly and to be able to bring this about.

When you put the two issues together, the challenge of the ecology of terror and the opportunity of a roundabout, I hope that we can shift political understanding.

So, what is it that we view ourselves as? Certainly, not as a battle field for proxy wars. Certainly, not as a space to become tested over. Certainly, not a buffer to be dominated. What we offer is a model of cooperation, a platform where all of us can come together. Where a transformative capacity and the imagination is translated into building solid institutions where all of us will be able to live in comfort and dignity.

Delhi, you can begin with having breakfast in Delhi, lunch in Peshawar and dinner in Kabul. I hope that what is immensely possible, can become actually achievable. And the day, when I will drive after retirement from Kabul to Delhi, I look forward to dedicating my life to creating this possibility of cooperation.

Thank you,

 

 

Transcript of President Ghani’s Remarks at Joint Press Conference with PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi, India

April 28, 2015

Besmillah-e-Rahman-e-Rahim.

Honorable Prime Minster Modi, the distinguished Indian delegations, member of the press,

First of all, let me express my deepest sympathies to the people of Nepal. I have had the pleasure of visiting Nepal repeatedly, I have walked those mountains, once a 180 km road and ones a 200. I have engaged intensely, and in this hour, I salute like you, their courage, their resilience, their determination. And your leadership and martialing SAARC resources in this crucial hour are re-assuring to the people of Nepal and to the people of the region.

Natural disasters does not respect boundaries and I hope that with the launching of the satellite, the SAARC satellite, that is one of your initiatives, we will be able to predict, prepare and deal much more effectively with natural disasters and change environmental conditions, because we must bring the potential of the SAARC, that is still the least economic integrated region, yet with the most potential to the far, and all of us joining forces to make SAARC an economic reality would be an extra-ordinary step forward.

India and Afghanistan are bound by a million ties through millennium. Our ambassador was telling me that there are an estimated 30 million people in India who claim decent from Afghanistan in various parts.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with people who after 200 years of living speak still Pashto or dari of absolute pure cadences. That is an indication of the ties that we have had, and the past year is a guide to the feature. Other regions need to overcome their past in order to build the future, we can build a future based on appreciation of our past.

Afghanistan was a roundabout, a place where ideas, people, goods came and flowed from south Asia to central Asia to west Asia. Our vision today is to be guided by that potential, where again, the energy of central Asia will flow to south Asia where pipelines, fiber-optics, railways and connectivity, air, ground and virtual would connect us.

In this regard, we very much welcome your emphasis on the bilateral and multi-lateral transit and transport agreement, Attari Waga is a desired destination for us. It would allow Afghan goods to again reach this vast market, and may I take a moment to thank Tagore. Kabuli Wala has done more to give us a brand that we could not buy with a billion dollars of advertisement, so I am delighted that the old version is being watched, and a new version is being prepared, that will give you a much more authentic setting inside Afghanistan.

I speak of Tagore because I was raised on Tagore by my grandmother who lived in Dera Dhon, in Lahor in exile, and was educated, and those are the personal type of ties. India’s own story has been well-understood and often commented.

The continuity, the vision, the remarkable transformation. But India’s impact on others is not been as much understood. My generation growing in 1950s grew on Indian texts and people. Abul Kalam Azad, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahir Lal Nehro were not names, but ideas people leader, so I would like to pay tribute to Indian democracy, to the discourse of rule of law, to the discourse of equality, to the discourse of engagement and transformation.

That is where we join together because Afghanistan’s quest is for democracy. We have through the formation of the government of national unity, and let me convey the best regards of Dr.Abdullah and the vice presidents and other members of the cabinet who are not here, as well as the Afghan nation to you.

Our political state craft has shown that divisions of the past are not going to be the confining limitations of the Afghan imagination. The formation of the Government of National Unity is a tribute to the desire of the people for unity.

Peace Mr. Prime Minister is our significant goal because the shadow of terror haunts our children, our women, and our youth. What people in the rest of the world take for granted namely for a young girl to go from home to school and return, is still an exception to us. Terror must be confronted and must be overcome. We are determined to make Afghanistan the graveyard of terror.

Our well must not be underestimated and we will not be beaten into submission. But terror, if it’s to be contained, and if the disease is to be cured rootstock and branch, requires a regional framework of peace and cooperation. We are determined to change the regional nature of cooperation against all forms of violence what is essential is that the state system in the region rises to a new understand.

Terror cannot be classified into good and bad. It cannot be differentiated. We must have a unified approach, we must be united both in the region and globally to contain this phenomena. That is the legacy and Afghanistan today is fighting the battle against terror on behalf of all our partners and neighbors and we appreciate your moral support and your understanding of our quest for containment. I would like to also express thanks for India’s very generous assistance. Over 2.2 billion dollars have been spent, a most significant part of which is in the formation of the human capital.

We have 13,000 Afghan students today, in Indian university and this of course will be the ground for formation of new ties and expanded ties that would enable generations to come, and your support in this regard and the intensive discussions that we had, to turn the potential of Afghanistan into an actual reality is highly appreciated.

Indian investment is important to us, and we would like very much to see coordination, transport access, not only through Pakistan, to Waga Attari, but also to Chah-Bahar would be crucial for a country that is a dual nature; Landlocked if you look at geography, and a land-rich in a roundabout if you look at political economy.

We look forward to an Asia that is economically integrated, that we are profound and lasting peace between states prevails, and where we allow the incredible energies of our people, the entrepreneurial talent for which south Asians are best known, to tackle our greatest enemy; poverty, exclusion, discrimination.

In that quest, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for both your leadership in India, and SAARC, and for your support for Afghanistan. It has been a pleasure and we are looking forward to receiving you in Kabul. I hope that you would not only come to inaugurate the parliament that is a very appropriate gift from one democracy to another, but to visit the Bamyan valley and some of our other sites as well.

Thank you.

Press Release: Ambassador Tanin Participates in United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People

On 31 March and 1 April, H.E. Ambassador Tanin participated in a United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People at the United Nations Office in Vienna. The Seminar focused on speeding up relief, recovery, and reconstruction in post-war Gaza and was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, upon which Ambassador Tanin serves as Vice-Chairman. Participants at the Seminar included representatives of the United Nations, governments, intergovernmental organizations, experts and civil society members.

At the Seminar, participants reviewed humanitarian and development needs in the Gaza strip and Gaza’s housing, fuel, power, environmental and water crises, which intensified in the wake of the war of 2014. After the war 100,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed, and power cuts of up to 18 hours a day were common.

At the Seminar’s outset, Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations office at Vienna read out a message on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He expressed concern at the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza and the suffering of the people there.“ Tens of thousands of Gazans — men, women, children and the elderly — are still living in temporary shelters or United Nations facilities because their homes have not yet been rebuilt.  The dangers are underscored by the fact that, during the winter storms in January, four children died due to inadequate housing,” he said.

Ambassador Tanin chaired segments of the Seminar including Plenary I on the immediate and longer-term humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip and parts of Plenary II on looking ahead: prioritizing reconstruction tasks plenary meetings. The Ambassador of Afghanistan to Vienna, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, delivered a statement on behalf of the government of Afghanistan at Plenary I on 31 March 2015. “The situation in Gaza is a core issue,” he said “We note with great concern the critical humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip”. Ambassador Erfani continued by expressing Afghanistan’s support to all international efforts in Gaza and for the Palestinian people.

Representatives of other countries and experts also delivered statements and engaged in dialogue on topics such as resolving Gaza’s critical water crisis, rehabilitation and development of Gaza’s infrastructure and strengthening cooperation by all parties to provide relief, promote reconstruction, and reignite development. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, H.E. Mr. Fode Seck Permanent Representative of Senegal to the UN, closed the meeting by emphasizing, “the people of Gaza need our continued support, now more than ever”. He called on international donors to honor their pledges so that Gaza can be rebuilt, “this time for good”.