Rede auf der 45. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz - 08.02.2009
|Land / Organisation:||Afghanistan|
Thank you Ambassador Ischinger for kindly inviting me to this important conference on world security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was a little over seven years ago when Afghanistan moved from being a forgotten corner of the planet to become the top concern for the world’s security. Over these years, we in Afghanistan have been part of an international effort, led by the United States and NATO, to fight international terrorism at its long-held bastions and remove its menacing specter from Afghanistan and the region.
In the post 9/11 era, marked by common threats to humanity and the need for collective response, the Afghan people found an opportunity to rid their country of war, terrorism and oppression. This opportunity had been denied to them for many decades. A new horizon of peace, prosperity and the rule of law opened in our country, and very significant achievements were made. Our partnership with the international community unlocked our potential for economic growth, set the rebuilding of Afghanistan’s shattered institutions in motion, and enabled us to deliver essential services, such as health and education, on a scale that we never could in the past.
I hasten to say that we have also had important setbacks in the past seven years, some of which have arisen from our own shortcomings, others from the persistent nature of the challenges we had to face, including terrorism. Despite expending so much in collective effort, and suffering losses of precious lives, both Afghan and non-Afghan, the goal of securing Afghanistan so that the foundations of a new democratic state and a prosperous economy could be built, has not been sufficiently achieved. Today, while grave challenges remain and hard choices will have to be made on the way forward, it is with a strong resolve and continued effort that these challenges will be overcome.
Needless to say that Afghanistan’s challenges are varied and manifold: we are still among the poorest nations on earth, our state institutions are nascent and weak, and the evils of narcotics, corruption and criminality, to name a few, are problems that cannot be wished away. However, it is the persistence of international terrorism – a menace that has caused unspeakable suffering to our people in the past, and has not gone away despite our relentless struggle over the past years, that lies at the heart of our challenges. This menace and the deepening sense of insecurity it is sowing in our villages and towns, poses by far the biggest obstacle to our success and constrains our ability to address the other challenges we face.
Today, at this prestigious conference, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss, in a spirit of openness and partnership, the factors behind the Afghanistan’s continued insecurity. However, before all else, may I say, what I have said countless times over the past seven years, that we in Afghanistan are proud of our partnership with the international community, and grateful for the support we have received. May I also assure our partners in the international community that, despite the setbacks of the past and the grave challenges of the future, our resolve to continue this fight, in partnership with the international community, is unshaken.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This conference could not have come at a better time. In the year ahead, together with our allies, and using opportunities such as the forthcoming NATO Summit in April, we will review our broader strategy, reflecting diligently not only on how to continue to fight the war against terrorism but also on stabilizing Afghanistan. We will build on the successes we have achieved over the past seven years, improve our existing practices and adopt new, effective measures where necessary.
In this context, we are encouraged by the renewed determination of the United States, under President Barack Obama, and welcome the appointment of his special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. I hope that the US will once again lead the effort at devising comprehensive responses to the challenges we continue to face together, and that this leadership will be met by a rejuvenated response from our other allies in Europe and elsewhere.
To be sure, since the terrorist threat we face is military in nature, military action on our part should remain the primary response. On this score too, I welcome the decision by the US government to deploy a significant number of additional troops to Afghanistan to meet the needs of the time. In the interest of our collective success in this fight, we are urging that any new deployments be implemented in close coordination with the Afghan government. I also expect that this military scale up will be used effectively to stem the infiltration of terrorists from across Afghanistan’s borders.
Among the urgent priorities in this new response must be a revision of the methodology of counter-terrorism operations with a view to avoiding the collateral damages sustained through our military operations by innocent Afghans in our villages and towns, primarily in the southern and south-eastern provinces. We must review and improve such practices as aerial bombardments and house-searches that are producing damages to our collective struggle that far outweigh the incurring benefits.
Afghan-i-sation of the security sector in Afghanistan is another strategic task that must be accelerated.; In addition to ensuring the sustainability of both counter-terrorism and stabilization effort in Afghanistan, expanding the Afghan security institutions’ role will greatly improve the effectiveness of our operations and help avoid some of the unintended negative outcomes.
I am pleased to report that the Afghan national army will be 80,000 strong this year and, although not adequately equipped yet, it has the moral and material preparedness to take on a larger share of the fight to protect our people. The persistent under-performance of our police force has been a huge challenge, but we have now accelerated the reform, training and equipping of the police. Like the army, the building up of Afghanistan’s police force will continue to depend on significant allocation of financial and material contributions from the international community.
Military action may be the primary response, but it can only succeed if it is part of a comprehensive strategy that covers reconciliation, consolidating our democratic gains, institutional building, fighting narcotics and corruption and above all, economic development.
We must and will vigorously pursue reconciliation as an important element of the strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan and defeating the terrorism upsurge. The forthcoming elections in Afghanistan, both the presidential elections as well as those for the national, provincial and district assemblies, will be valuable opportunities to give a new impetus to the reconciliation agenda. While the current security environment posses a threat to the successful conduct of the elections, we are aware of the vital importance of holding them successfully in all parts of the country, north and south, west and east, and we will appreciate help from the international community towards this goal.
In the governance area, we will continue our efforts to establish an effective government presence that can enhance confidence, protect lives of our people and deliver essential services. Our initiative to improve governance at the sub-national levels has already translated into increased efficiency and better accountability of governors in our provinces and districts.
On narcotics, after seeing several successive years of up-spiral in poppy cultivation across the country, our counter narcotics efforts have paid off as we saw a 20 percent reduction in 2008. We will ensure that this success is sustained and expanded over the next years.
We will continue to fight relentlessly the war we have declared against corruption. Progress has already been made. Abuse of position is no longer as easy as it was in the past. We acknowledge that public extortion through some public service delivery channels like judiciary, customs, municipalities and police remains a huge challenge which we are determined to meet.
We must also address the widespread grievance among Afghan public concerning the wastage of reconstruction resources that are outside the government’s sphere of influence. To make the Afghan government truly and meaningfully accountable, we will press donors to adopt measures towards aid effectiveness and avoid the use of parallel structures that undermine the development of national institutions. I commend the efforts of United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan, Amb. Kai Eide, and I support his role as coordinator as well as an honest broker between the Afghan government and our international partners.
Ladies and gentlemen,
All the above measures, from the additional deployment of international troops to our efforts in providing better governance to our people, will only amount to part of the solution. The other part of the solution lies beyond Afghanistan’s borders. We know today, what we seemed to neglect for several years, that terrorism did not emanate from Afghanistan’s villages and people; that there were sanctuaries outside our borders where terrorism might be defeated. It is from those sanctuaries that, over the past few years, the Taliban and other terrorists have launched their murderous campaign in Afghanistan.
We have also seen, over the past three years, that the threat of terrorism has grown in ferocity and scale across the wider region and beyond. Today Pakistan is engulfed by violence perpetrated by terrorists; India is under attack and, unless challenged in a timely manner through a broad, comprehensive effort, there will never be assurance against this menace striking in farther corners of the world – like it has done in the past.
Of course, part of the challenge of the regional dimension of the fight against terrorism is to do with the nature of the threat itself and its historical evolution over the past three decades. Terrorism in our region is political and multi-faceted. It has germinated over the years on fertile grounds of conflict, poverty and alienation; it has fed on short-sighted political ambitions of some governments in our region, remaining neglected through the naivety of others. Today, the terrorist threat in our region is sustained by an elaborate, politically embedded infrastructure, involving a complex network of state entities, political parties, sanctuaries and training bases, and more dangerously it is tapping to the vast legions of young men whose economic deprivation and lack of education make them vulnerable to exploitation.
On the other hand, however, I see a silver-lining in the unprecedented concurrence of views and interests that is emerging across the region and beyond, not only concerning the nature of the threat that faces us but also about the need for tackling it urgently. Today, the sense of urgency that we in Afghanistan have about the growing threat of terrorism is equally shared by the democratic government of President Zardari in Pakistan as well as the government of India, not to mention the other major nations in our region. I have also welcomed cooperation from other regional partners, notably Saudi Arabia. All these are elements of a crucial opportunity that must not be missed.
To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, Afghanistan today is only part of what is a much broader, more complex global security environment, where diverse challenges, from energy crises and global warming to nuclear proliferation, from poverty and underdevelopment to wholesale violation of the basic rights of humans, are all at work to blemish the vision of a peaceful planet.
However, for as long as terrorism remains an existential threat not just to the security of the region we live in, but also of the entire world, Afghanistan will justifiably remain at the top of the world’s security agenda. And for as long as the task of defeating terrorism and building Afghanistan into a stable, economically self-reliant democracy remains unfinished, the international fight against terrorism must continue unabated.
In 2009, this international effort will be entering its eighth year and there is much by way of our collective achievements that we can be proud of. The new year is going to be tough and full of challenges, but already it looks brimming with opportunities too. We in Afghanistan are determined to grasp every opportunity with eagerness and vision, and meet each challenge with courage and resolve. And we will count on continued partnership with the international community.
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