Wednesday, July 30, 2014

celebration of the 1150th Birth anniversary of Abu Abdullah Rudaki

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the celebration of the 1150th Birth anniversary of Abu Abdullah Rudaki

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,
Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we are gathered with members of friend-nations who share a common language, culture, religion and history to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of Abu Abdullah Rudaki’s birth. Rudaki is one of the founders of the rich classical literature which belongs to Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan as well the millions who speak the same language throughout the world. I would like to personally welcome Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. My welcome extends to Permanent Representatives, UN delegates and dignitaries, as well as the guests and friends of the Afghan, Iranian and Tajik community in the New York area.
Abu Abdullah Rudaki was a master of words, a gifted poet, mellifluous voice, a talented musician – and a great cultural icon.
It is a tribute to the richness of our literature and culture that we are able to gather here today like we did last year, to mark the 800th anniversary of another great icon, Moulana Rumi Balkhi, and we are grateful to once again join in the spirit of our shared cultural heritage.
Rudaki was born in Transoxiana or today’s Tajikistan, and attended madrasahs in the historic city of Samarqand where he began to write poetry when he was only eight years old. As was the tradition at the time, Rudaki wrote, read and sang lyrical and unparalleled poetry enjoyed by the common people. Even today, we are left enchanted by his beautiful masterpieces. He was indeed in a class of his own.
Abu Abdullah Rudaki was the son of a region blessed by a flourishing civilization founded by the Samanid Dynasty. During this epoch, our land underwent a dramatic change where science, literature and culture were transformed and works of great

intellectuals emerged. The center of this transformation, the city of Bukhara, the capital of the Samanids, had a special role as the heart of Sufi Islam and the entire Islamic world, and therefore at the time, of the world itself. At the time, literary, scientific and cultural learning helped to create a Renaissance that swept the region.
It was a time that great intellectuals such as: Abu Muayid Balkhi, Abu Reyhan Biruni, Abu Nasr Farabi, Muhammad Zekriya Razi, Imam al-Bukhari, and Ibn Sina, or as we know him in English, Avicenna, and others who had a lasting impact on our tradition of learning and knowledge thrived. In speaking of the greatness of Bukhara, Avicenna remarked that the library of Bukhara was the greatest he had ever seen.
Rudaki was invited to the Samanid Court by the famous reformer king Nasr Ibn Ahmad Samani. Rudaki was blessed by the prosperity and intellectual richness of the time, and the legacy of his works is a blessing to us today. Rudaki had another crucial role in founding the traditions of our literature; he was one of the first prominent poets to begin composing his works in Persian Dari language which replaced Arabic as the dominant language of administration, learning and writing.
A world without words is almost unimaginable and the words of great poets such as Rudaki reveal an inherent connection between our peoples. His poetry and music serve as reminders of our common past and the shared history, language, religion and culture of Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. Rudaki lost his sight in his later years but Rudaki never lost sight of his love of people, art, nature and solidarity – some of the common themes threaded together in the fabric of his vibrant imagination.
Today’s celebration is a celebration of the Master of Words we know as Abu Abdullah Rudaki, but it is also a reminder of the unbroken culture interconnectedness between Afghans, Iranians and Tajiks. Rudaki conveyed a message of peace, tolerance and solidarity and he belongs to all of us.

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative at the opening of the Art Exhibition at the United Nation

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I welcome all of you to this special event. (I am delighted at the presence of the President of the General Assembly.) It is also a pleasure to see so many colleagues and members of the Afghan community in New York.
Seven years ago in March 2001, the world learned of the destruction of the almost 2000 year old Buddha statues in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s shameful act was not only a blatant attack against Afghanistan’s rich history, but humanity as a whole. It received a wide international condemnation. Yet, the demolition of Statues is but one example of the cultural genocide aimed at the obliteration of Afghanistan’s historical memory and its cultural heritage. Afghanistan’s Kabul museum and national gallery were once home to precious sculptures, paintings, coins, gold, potteries, and other artwork depicting the rich history of Afghanistan and the region. During the armed-conflict, a great majority of these precious artifacts were looted and destroyed. Many were smuggled to foreign countries.
Nevertheless, seven years since opening a new chapter in our modern history, steady progress continues towards the restoration and revival of Afghanistan’s national heritage. In March 2002, the Government of Afghanistan partnered with the UNESCO to begin rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s National Museum in Kabul. Since then, a considerable number of historical artifacts have found their way home and been restored to the national museum.
Tonight’s event is a manifestation of our commitment to our cultural heritage. We have gathered to honor the work of one of our well-known artists, Professor Amanullah Haidarzad. During his illustrious career, Prof. Haidarzad has produced various sculptures, paintings, coins, and medals portraying Afghanistan’s rich identity, history and culture. As such, he has played an important role in promoting Afghanistan’s cultural heritage. His work has been recognized by a diverse audience of intellectuals and applauded in various forums and international gatherings.
As you will see, moments from now, his artwork not only provides an adequate illustration of Afghanistan’s cultural image, but also contains an international dimension, reflecting the beauty of three distinct traditions of art: Traditional West, Avant-Garde and Traditional Islamic. In each category, he has demonstrated a unique skill in mastering both technique and artistic sensibility.
Prof. Haidarzad has dedicated himself to rebuilding the arts and culture of Afghanistan. His service to his country dates back to 1966 when he played an instrumental role in the founding of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University. Since 2001, he has traveled to

Afghanistan on numerous occasions to propose the rebuilding of Buddha statues and conduct a survey for establishing a Cultural Center in Kabul University. In recognition of his sense of patriotism and potential, Prof. Haidarzad was appointed as Senior Adviser on Cultural Affairs by His Excellency President Karzai.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over two-decades, images of violence, suffering, agonies and destruction, aired by the international media, has shaped a depressing perception about Afghanistan. Tonight’s exhibition gives testimony to the beginning of a new outlook in our history; one characterized by symbols of hope, peace and progress.
Art and culture unify people and connect humanity, irrespective of religious, racial and cultural differences. Together, let us invest greater in art and culture as they contribute to peace and harmony world-wide.
Before declaring this exhibition open I would like to give the floor to Professor Haiderzad to share his thoughts on his work with us.

“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 “

STATEMENT
BY
H.E. DR. ZAHIR TANIN
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE THEMATIC DEBATE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 ”

Mr. President,

I would like to express the appreciation of my delegation for organizing this important debate on the progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have been a powerful mobilizing force for greater focus on global and national actions to improve the well-being of people around the world. This meeting provides the opportunity to review and discuss the implementation of the MDGs and pave the ground for a successful convening of the High Level Meeting on MDGs in September 2008. In my remarks today, I would like to share Afghanistan’s experience towards fulfilling the MDGs.

Mr. President,
In 2000, when the Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration and committed themselves to endorse the MDGs in a time-bound manner, Afghanistan was embroiled in armed conflict. In March 2004, my Government committed itself to achieve the MDGs within a time bound period. As a late entrant to global development efforts, the Afghan Government has extended its MDGs timeline from 2015 to 2020 due to quarter of a century of conflict and our inability to join this global effort in 2000. Lack of available data has posed unique problems in preventing reliable baselines from which to set targets. Therefore most of the global targets have been “Afghanized”, which means that they have been revised to make them more relevant to Afghanistan. Moreover, in recognition of the interdependency of development and security a ninth goal of ‘enhancing security’ has been added to the MDGs.

The development policy framework of Afghanistan, which was established at the London Conference in January 2006, is aimed at enabling the achievement of the MDGs. At the London Conference, we launched our National MDGs Report, presented our interim National Development Strategy (i-ANDS) and adopted the Afghanistan Compact.

Mr. President,
Notwithstanding progress towards the MDGs, many challenges still remain in the implementation of our goals. Allow me to highlight some of them:
Poverty and Hunger (MDG1). Since 2001, economic growth has not only been significant but also generated better livelihoods; GDP per capita has increased 53% in the last five years. However, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 22 million Afghans – representing 70% of the population – living in poverty especially high in rural areas. Poverty and unemployment, both of which have contributed to the increase of the terrorist activities in the country, can jeopardize the gains made in the last 6 years. We have prioritized addressing both in a sustainable and timely manner.

Education (MDG2). Since 2001, nearly 7 million children have returned to schools – one third of whom are girls. More than 3,500 schools have been built and new curriculum 2
and textbooks have been developed for primary education. In addition, the number of teachers has increased seven-fold. However, a great number of children, particularly those living in rural areas, continue to face difficulties in accessing educational institutions. It is also important to mention that the Taliban and Al-Qaida, during their campaign of terror, have attacked and intimidated teachers, students and burned out a large number of schools.
Gender (MDG3). Significant progress has been achieved to empower women in the political, economic and social areas. Women play an important role in the development and peace process in Afghanistan. However, many women still face obstacles. Among them are low rates of literacy and life expectancy, coupled with pregnancy related complications, unemployment and insufficient access to education and health services.
Reduce child mortality, Improve Maternal Health and Combat Diseases (MDGs 4, 5, 6). Today 85% of the Afghan population has access to basic health services and access to diagnostic and curative services has increased from almost none in 2002 to more than 40 % in 2008. The rate of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by 85,000 and 40,000 annually. We have created our National AIDS Control Program (NACP) in 2004 to collect systematic data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. However, close to 900 children under the age of five die daily and more than 60 women die every day from pregnancy-related complications. Malaria is prevalent in more than 60% of the country and Afghanistan is the 12th highest tuberculosis burdened country in the world and the highest in South Asia.
Environment (MDG7). In 2007, 343 community water points were constructed in the drought hit and conflict-affected parts of southern Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous initiatives to prevent environmental degradation. However, only 23 % of the entire population has access to safe drinking water and most of the diseases are caused by lack of drinkable water.
Security (MDG9). The lack of security caused by the Taliban and Al-Qaida in the southern parts of Afghanistan is a major obstacle to economic and social development. Achieving our MDGs solely depends on providing security to our people. Afghanistan has added this new goal which includes targets related to disarmament, de-mining and counter narcotics. We would like to place emphasis on the need for technical and financial assistance to our security institutions to contribute to the rule of law, and advance the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process (DDR) and the counter narcotics efforts.
Mr. President,
Develop a Global Partnership for Development (MDG8). The main part of Afghanistan’s national development resources are currently provided by the international community. Therefore, the partnership with the donor community is key to ensuring the implementation of our National Development Strategy, including the MDGs. In this

regard, it is important to mention that the delivery and effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan is faced with the following constraints:
1.
The overall volume of aid delivered to Afghanistan is less in comparison to other post conflict settings.
2.
There is a growing gap of billions of dollars between amounts pledged and amounts disbursed which undermines the ability of our government to undertake long-term fiscal planning.
3.
Nearly three quarters of the aid is disbursed outside our national budget which creates a parallel system that undermines our government’s ownership, involves multiple levels of contractors that inflate cost and fail to build Afghan national capacity.
4.
The proportion of “tied” aid is three times more than “untied” aid which affects our capability to plan and effectively implement our national development strategy.
By adopting the Afghanistan Compact, the international community committed itself to improve aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, to provide resources and support for the implementation of our development strategy including the MDGs. We would like to seize this opportunity to remind the donor community to fulfill its commitment under the Afghanistan Compact and to:
1.
Increase the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA), particularly to countries emerging from conflict.
2.
Translate pledges into commitments and therefore provide more predictable and multi-year funding commitments.
3.
Provide its financial support through our national budget in order to reduce the duplication, transactions costs, strengthen the national ownership.
4.
Deliver “untied” aid whenever possible and provide assistance within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy.
Afghanistan is currently at the crucial stage of finalizing its National Development Strategy (ANDS) and entering into its implementation phase. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy will be launched during the International Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Paris in June 2008. The Paris Conference represents an opportunity for our international partners to renew their political and financial commitment for the implementation of ANDS and the achievement of our MDGs. In Paris Conference, we expect that the international community will continue its political and financial support to Afghanistan so as to enable us to improve the lives of our people and stand on our own feet.
Thank you for your attention.