Saturday, August 23, 2014

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York

8:01 P.M. EST

Statement

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan — the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It’s an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point — where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.

To address these important issues, it’s important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda — a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban — a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them — an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 — the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda’s terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy — and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden — we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It’s enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention — and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.

But while we’ve achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda’s leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it’s been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Now, throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that’s why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.

Since then, we’ve made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we’ve stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation’s army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and — although it was marred by fraud — that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.

Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There’s no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population. Our new commander in Afghanistan — General McChrystal — has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: The status quo is not sustainable.

As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that’s why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people — and our troops — no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.

Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you — a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I’ve traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America’s war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity over the next 18 months.

The 30,000 additional troops that I’m announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 — the fastest possible pace — so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They’ll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I’ve asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we’re confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility — what’s at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We’ll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government — and, more importantly, to the Afghan people — that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We’ll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas — such as agriculture — that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They’ve been confronted with occupation — by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand — America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect — to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.

Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

We’re in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That’s why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who’ve argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

I recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the more prominent arguments that I’ve heard, and which I take very seriously.

First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we’re better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now — and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance — would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Second, there are those who acknowledge that we can’t leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we already have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over.

Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort — one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don’t have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I’m mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who — in discussing our national security — said, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We’ve failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can’t simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I’ll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That’s why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended — because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.

Now, let me be clear: None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict — not just how we wage wars. We’ll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold — whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere — they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.

And we can’t count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can’t capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that’s why I’ve made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them — because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them.

We’ll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I’ve spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world — one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.

And finally, we must draw on the strength of our values — for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That’s why we must promote our values by living them at home — which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source, the moral source, of America’s authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions — from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank — that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades — a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for — what we continue to fight for — is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity. (Applause.)

As a country, we’re not as young — and perhaps not as innocent — as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.

In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people — from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth. (Applause.)
This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue — nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.

It’s easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. (Applause.) I believe with every fiber of my being that we — as Americans — can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment — they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

America — we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

Video

President Karzai’s Inauguration Speech

In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate

Your Excellency, Mr. Zardari, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
Distinguished guests;
Your Excellencies Speakers of both Houses of the Parliament;
Your Excellency Chief Justice;
Members of the National Assembly;
Distinguished Jihadi Leaders, Tribal Elders and Respected Ulemma;
Members of the Diplomatic Corp;
Members of the Press;
Members of the Cabinet;
Ladies and Gentlemen!

May peace be upon you all!

I thank Almighty Allah (SWT) for bestowing upon our nation the ability and success to proudly come out of another major test. The participation of millions of citizens of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in presidential and provincial elections once again demonstrated that the Afghan nation has reached a stage of political maturity of which we can be proud.
I would like to thank and express my heartfelt gratitude to my country’s men and women, who despite threats, made sacrifices to take part in this great national process. I also applaud all of the candidates for their participation in the election process; this process has moved our country one step further towards democratic maturity. Let me also commend all the candidates for their peaceful campaigns and rallies. The conduct of the election campaigns in shaping opinions and giving direction to the people’s votes were major strides towards stabilizing and ensuring the people’s preeminence in our young democracy.
The notable characteristic of the recent elections was that it broke all ethnic boundaries. Widespread participation by our people in the elections showed that they, irrespective of their political affiliation, came out and voted for the president on the basis of national interest. Looking at the combination of votes, one finds that ballots were cast in a more national and Afghan spirit than ever before.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to sincerely thank the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Taking the current difficult situation into consideration, these elections would have been impossible without the great sacrifice and effective management of the IEC. We must learn from our good and bad experiences in these elections and put all our energy to ultimately fully Afghanize the process. The election law has to be ratified and enforced as soon as possible, and Afghan voters must know and be assured that it is only the people’s vote that can give legitimacy to the government.
In the same vein, let us remember the services of all the members of the national army, the national police and other security services, as well as the soldiers of our allied countries who put their lives in danger to make possible the participation of our people in the elections. I pray for those who lost their lives and wish a quick recovery for those who suffered injuries.
Distinguished Guests, Sister and Brothers!
Arguing and disputing our political ideas and beliefs are famously embedded in our Afghan character. However, we stand united when it comes to defending our fatherland and our national values. Using this opportunity, I would like to invite all the presidential candidates, including my brother Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who is here with us today to come together to achieve the important task of national unity, and make our common home, Afghanistan, proud and prosperous. I believe that the obligation of patriotism and loyalty to Afghanistan, its political system, and its state must remain the highest values we believe in.

Honorable Guests, Dear Compatriots

With international support, Afghanistan has had many successes in the past eight years; these successes have been the result of sacrifices made by our people and the peoples of our allied countries.
I do not want go over all of the successes of the last eight years. I do, however, want to state that during the last eight years, we were able to bring Afghanistan out of a situation where it did not have a responsible government and the necessary legal foundations. Today, we have a law-based state along with institutions that are at the service of the people of our country.
We are proud of Afghanistan’s achievements in providing its sons and daughters with access to education and health services. Today, Afghanistan enjoys an open and free media, a developing civil society, a rehabilitated economic infrastructure, a set of well-conducted monetary reforms and a budding free-market economy.
Grasping the opportunity of today’s august occasion, I would like to talk about Afghanistan’s tomorrow. We have to learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of the past eight years. It is through this self evaluation that we can better respond to the aspirations and expectations of our people.
At this point, I would like to set out the priorities that will serve as the basis for our future endeavors:

1. Peace and Reconciliation:

Securing peace and an end to fighting are the most significant demands of our people. For the last thirty years, our people have offered continuous sacrifices to achieve peace.
It is a recognized fact that security and peace cannot be achieved through fighting and violence. This is why the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has placed national reconciliation at the top of its peace-building policy. We welcome and will provide necessary help to all disenchanted compatriots who are willing to return to their homes, live peacefully and accept the Constitution.
We invite dissatisfied compatriots, who are not directly linked to international terrorism, to return to their homeland We will utilize all national and international resources to put an end to war and fratricide.karzai-inaguration2

We will call Afghanistan’s traditional Loya Jirga and make every possible effort to ensure peace in our country.
At this point, I am compelled to note that His Majesty King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has made many commendable efforts towards peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We thank His Majesty, the Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques, and hope that he will continue his endeavors for this cause.

2. Security:

Defending our country and providing security for our nation is the duty of all Afghans. The state’s monopoly over security forces and the leadership and organizational role of our security forces can ensure security for our country.

Based on the state monopoly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan over the defense and security forces of our country, and other imperatives of national sovereignty, we want to organize and improve the national army and our other security forces in quantitative and qualitative terms, in consonance with the defensive needs of Afghanistan. Our country, consistent with our financial capabilities, should be able to provide for needs of our national army and security forces.

Within the next three years, Afghanistan, with continued international support and in line with the growth of its defense capacity, wants to lead and conduct military operations in the many insecure areas of the country. As they already have in Kabul, our own security forces should be able to take control of security of other provinces as well, and thus the role of the international troops will be gradually reduced and limited to support and training of Afghan forces. We are determined that by the next five years, the Afghan forces are capable of taking the lead in ensuring security and stability across the country.

The detention and prosecution of suspects is the authority and responsibility of the Afghan government. We have to strengthen the security of our prisons and detention centers, and expedite further the reform process within our justice system. We will continue to discuss this issue with the United States of America to ensure that detention and legal prosecution of suspects will be the responsibility of the government of Afghanistan alone.karzai-inaguration1

Civilian casualties continue to remain an issue of concern to the people and government of Afghanistan. I am pleased to see that our continuing discussions with NATO and ISAF, and our joint operational measures, have resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of civilian casualties. We would like to expand and enhance such measures, so that casualties among our civilian population to be avoided.

The goal of a powerful national government can be realized by the stronger presence of national security forces in all parts of the country. Within the next two years, we want operations by all private national and international security firms to be ended and their duties delegated to Afghan security entities.

3. Good Governance:

A fundamental prerequisite for good governance is to ensure individual and social security of the people. Security and the rule of law can only be effectively ensured when both the government and the citizens are equal before law.

It is noteworthy that our people throughout the long years of conflict never felt safe even in their home out of fear of government security agencies. People have the right to be safe and we are responsible to provide them with the safety.

Good governance can be practiced by good and authoritative executives. We must use full care and foresight in appointing all government officials and members of the administration. The ministers of Afghanistan must possess integrity and be professionals serving the nation. All senior officials, especially the ministers, governors and deputy ministers have the duty to declare and register their moveable and unmovable assets. To prevent corruption, we will adopt a law in consultation with the National Assembly for making it obligatory for senior government officials to identify the sources of their assets and to declare their properties in a transparent manner.

Strengthening administrative reforms and improving the capacity-building of the civil administration from center to the district level, are those future measures that we will pursue with great seriousness. As a first step, in line with these reforms, fifty thousand teachers were asked this week to undergo aptitude tests. Afghanistan’s civil administration, its diplomatic corps, national army, national police, and national security forces must be non-political and act as true public servants.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to end the culture of impunity and violation of law and bring to justice those involved in spreading corruption and abuse of public property. To do this, will require effective and strong measures. Therefore, alongside an intensified judicial reform, all government anti-corruption efforts and agencies have to be strengthened and supported. Particular attention will be given to building the capacity and upgrading the High Office of Oversight for the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy . Measures for supporting the anti-corruption agencies include: increasing the scope of their authority, improving their capacity and resources for detection and investigation, expanding their organizational structure, as well as reforming the relevant anti-corruption laws and regulations.

Since some time, the media has widely reported on corruption in our country’s offices and administration. Whatever the truth may be, these allegations have given the Afghan administration a very bad reputation. Corruption and bribery constitute a very dangerous problem. We want to follow this issue seriously. To conduct research on this problem, we will soon organize a conference in Kabul so that we can find new and effective ways to combat this problem. We consider combating this difficulty our duty. In the same vein, combating moral corruption has its own place in our programs.
Cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs is another serious threat that is directly intertwined with terrorism and corruption. The government has the duty to decisively fight against the cultivation, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs. The Government of Afghanistan considers it to be its responsibility to dismiss all government employees who are connected to the cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs, and to deliver them to the hands of the law.

We seriously ask for close coordination within the international community, as well as cooperation from the international community with the Government of Afghanistan to fight illicit drugs.
For the purpose of strengthening oversight over government decisions, we want to organize district level elections in addition to the parliamentary elections next year. For the purpose of better city management, mayoral elections will be held soon.

In addition to its previous efforts, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan considers it to be its duty to secure the rights of women in the three branches of government, so that the condition of women and their rights in our society can be further improved.

4. Economic Development:

We have had numerous economic achievements during the last eight year. Between 1381-1386, our country experienced an average economic growth rate of 15%. This is good news about the resilience of our expanding economy.
Economic development and growth, as well as the creation of a legitimate national economy, consistent with the realities of the Afghan society, can be achieved only within the framework of a market economy.

For the purpose of achieving economic growth, we will continue our endeavors towards strengthening agriculture, livestock, irrigation, energy, and education. Moreover, we will also build more highways and make further efforts towards the improvement of our infrastructure.

With the goal of developing the rural areas, we support the National Solidarity Program and other similar programs. We will provide our youth with vocational training based on the reconstruction needs in Afghanistan. This will enable us to provide thousands of job opportunities for our citizens.
With the aim of implementing a new operational program during the next five years, we are seeking a new cooperation framework with the international community. This cooperation will be based on Afghan ownership. In light of the principle of Afghan ownership, Afghans will have the central role in prioritizing, designing and implementing development projects.
Currently, only 20% of international funds are spent through the government budget. This percentage should be raised. We ask the donor countries to raise this percentage to 40%, and increase it to 50% over the next two years.
Transparency in spending international aid is another important issue. Lack of transparency and accountability in aid spending reduces people’s trust and causes the spread of administrative corruption.

5. Regional Cooperation:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Strong regional cooperation is a major contributor to social, economic and cultural growth of countries. With the cooperation of our neighbors and the rest of the world, we intend to expand regional solidarity through practical measures in regional trade and transit, aiming to position Afghanistan as a bridge between the countries of Central Asia, South-East Asia, and the Middle East.
Afghanistan has the potential to become a transit corridor for goods and energy between north and south Asia.
Connecting Afghanistan to the region’s railway networks, and linking the countries of the region through Afghanistan to regional roads and sea ports, present some of the real opportunities that can bring the countries of our region together.

6. Foreign Policy and Affairs:

During the last eight years, the United Nations has had the civilian leadership of the international community in organizing international conferences as well as coordinating the world’s efforts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan appreciates the role of the United Nations and asks for a strengthening of the role of this organization in the areas of agreement.

Dear Guests,
We believe that our friendship with the United States of America is not limited to our joint struggle against violent extremists and the forces of division and destruction; rather, it is based on Afghanistan’s long-term interests towards the consolidation of stability and tranquility for our people in this region.
America is the largest contributor in the provision of security, economic development, and good governance in our country. I am fully confident that this friendship will further expand. The people of Afghanistan will never forget the sacrifices made by American soldiers to bring peace to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is determined to take all the necessary steps towards strengthening US-Afghan relations through initiation of dialogue and discussions on the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership. Afghanistan hopes to acquire the status of a major non-NATO ally of the United States
We express our thanks to the member countries of the European Union, NATO, Canada, Australia and all the other allies of Afghanistan who, during the past eight years, have participated and made sacrifices in strengthening our state institutions, supporting our reconstruction, and providing security. Following past contributions, the recent $5 billion aid pledge by Japan deserves our heartfelt thanks.
We are fully confident that members of NATO will take effective steps towards accelerating the task of training and equipping the Afghan national army and police. It is only through this process that Afghanistan’s hope with regard to a quick return of our friends’ soldier to their countries will be realized, enabling us to take full responsibility for our security.
Dear Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are always directly affected by positive and negative changes in the Islamic world. For this reason, our relations with the Islamic world are akin to relationships based on values within a single family. We are thankful for the efforts of Islamic countries, Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, other sisters and brothers of the Islamic Community, and members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)
Our relations with our neighbors are based on mutual respect and genuine friendship. We will make efforts to expand and strengthen these relations. We are thankful for the assistance of our neighbors in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, particularly Iran and Pakistan.
We enjoy strategic relations with the Republic of India. India has contributed
$ 1.3 billion to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Thousands of Afghan students are educated in Indian universities.
The People’s Republic of China is our good neighbor and partner in the development process in Afghanistan.
The Republic of Turkey has been a loyal and historic brother of Afghanistan in the course of history. The presence of Turkey’s soldiers in Afghanistan and the efforts made by Turkey’s leadership towards peace and security in our country are highly appreciated.
Our relations with the Russian Federation are expanding rapidly and we thank Russia for supporting us in international forums.
The presence of my brother, His Excellency President Zardari in this gathering is a sign of friendship and brotherhood between the peoples of our countries, and the commitment of the Government of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism as a common threat. I have full confidence that the democratically-elected governments of our two countries will soon overcome the problem of terrorism.

Excellencies,
Dear Guests, Fellow Citizens,

Ladies, Gentlemen
The next five years, while short in the context of the ancient history of this country, confront us with great responsibilities and duties.
Taking advantage of all national and international opportunities and facilities, we will endeavor to implement social and political reforms in our country.
I consider myself responsible to Almighty Allah and to the people of Afghanistan to carry this heavy burden on my shoulders and to truthfully take it to its destination.
Our people have the right to enjoy security and a comfortable life in the light of a democratically-elected system of governance. Recognizing this right of my people, for the next five years, I want Afghanistan to become a country that is capable of defending itself, and where peace reigns across the whole nation. With the help of the Almighty God, Afghanistan will be in the possession of a strong democratic order for the next five years.
Tens of thousands of Afghan youth will be employed in reconstruction of their country and management of its affairs. All cities and some rural areas will have electricity. Road networks will be asphalted and completed, and work on building railroads will begin.
In the next five years, lawlessness will end with the help of our people. The task of establishing security and protection of peoples’ lives will be taken over by the state to the full extent, and the state of Afghanistan will be bound by and operate on the basis of law.
To open a new chapter in cooperation and assistance between Afghanistan and the international community, soon an international conference will be organized in Kabul. This conference will reiterate the mutual responsibilities and commitments of Afghanistan and the international community towards each other.
I ask Almighty Allah with great humbleness to bestow upon Afghanistan and the whole world peace and tranquility, and wish my people comfort and pride.
Success belongs to the Almighty God.
{End of Speech}

President Karzai’s message on the International Day of Peace

My fellow citizens,
Brothers and Sisters!

September 21 has been declared as the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. People around the world commemorate this day to strengthen the ideals of global peace. We Afghans, more than any other nation in the world, realize the value of peace. In a world where conflicts and unrests claim thousands of lives each day, our nation bears the heaviest burden.

One day ceasefire may be symbolic, but it symbolizes peace as the greatest ever aspiration of the mankind. I order every member of the Afghan Armed Forces not to resort to force on this day, except when attacked. I also call upon the international forces, stationed in Afghanistan, not to resort to force, but for defensive reasons. Taking this opportunity I would also call on those who are fighting against our country, for whatever reason, to cease fire in honor of this day.

I hope that this day becomes the beginning of an enduring peace in our country and the world.
Hamid Karzai
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan