President Hamid KARZAI

57th Session of General Assembly of the United Nations
12 September 2002, New York

Mr. President,
Your Excellency Secretary General,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Not very far from here stood two towers that symbolized freedom, prosperity and progress. Half way around the globe stood two magnificent Buddha's that represented a culture of tolerance and a nation with a rich history. These symbols have been linked together through the global scourge of terrorism. Terror may have demolished these physical structures, however it strengthens the willpower of the international community never to let down the spirit and determination with which these icons were built. Terrorism and violence are against the teaching of Islam, a religion that stands for peace, respect for human dignity, dialogue, and tolerance. The Talibane, who destroyed our country and cultural heritage, did not represent Afghans and we do not consider the AI Qaida to represent the Arab world, and neither one represents Islam.

The Afghan people, as the prime victims of war and violence and the front line fighters against terrorism, particularly appreciate, honor and admire the friendly hand extended to them by the United States of America and other members of the Anti-tenor Coalition and the International Security Assistance Force, the United Nations family of organizations, particularly H.E Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Ambassador Lakhdar Barahimi, the Special Representative of Secretary General, for their tremendous support to Afghanistan in this critical juncture of the Afghan history.

Mr. President, I am honored to have this opportunity to highlight some of the achievements of my administration during the short course of the past eight months.

The implementation of the Bonn Agreement and the peace process in my country is completely on track. In accordance with the terns of the Bonn Agreement, the people of Afghanistan manifested their robust resolution and solid consensus for democracy and rule of law by gathering under one tent to convene the Emergency Loya Jirga, the Afghan Grand Council, on June 11 through June 17, 2002. The success of the Loya Jirga, with broad and unprecedented participation of women, was a significant milestone in the recent history of Afghanistan, and a major step forward in the process of peace, stability and nation building. During the proceeding of the Loya Jirga, hundreds of delegates exercised their rights to express freely their opinions and desires for security, peace, national unity, reconstruction, democracy and good governance. The people of Afghanistan told me univocally of their disdain of war and violence. The Loya Jirga demonstrated that after 23 years of imposed wars, foreign interventions, violence, bloodshed, repression, destruction and subversion. Afghans are on the way to enjoy the peace and to benefit from reconstruction and are determined to take every measure to avoid a relapse into warlordism and lawlessness.

As a result of the back to school campaign, three (3) million children, boys and girls, have returned to school.

The strong commitment of the government to the eradication of poppy cultivation and destruction of narcotics resulted in destruction of drugs with an estimated street value of eight (8) billion Dollars.

As a sign of stability and security, over 1.6 million refugees and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced peoples have returned to their homeland and places of origin.

We have formed a Constitutional Commission to undertake the historic task of drafting the country's new Constitution. We have already established a Judicial Commission; to rebuild the Afghan justice system, as well as a Civil Service Commission to reform the entire administration and impose a merit based system, and a Human Rights Commission, to protect human rights, women rights and civil liberties. We have adopted a series of laws and decrees to promote and attract domestic and international investments, safeguard property rights and others pillars of the free market economy; combat narcotics, and protect forest and the environment.

Despite these achievements, we are realistic about countless challenges and problems that we are confronted with. Foremost among these is security, which is the principal demand of the Afghan people, and the most fundamental requirement for sustainable peace. It is our position that the real key to the restoration of sustainable security lies in the creation of a national army and a national police force, along with a comprehensive demobilization program. We have established a Commission for the formation of national army. I have highlighted the establishment of the national army and police force as top priority and the main objective for my government; but the people of Afghanistan need a clear commitment and sustained support from the international community to realize these objective. We appreciate the contributions of our American, British, German, Turkish and French friends in training our national army and police force, and the Government of Japan for its assistance in demobilization programs. I would like to once again request the donor countries to further support our strategy for the creation of a national army and a national system for security by translating international pledges into concrete contributions.

The Afghan delegates that regularly visit us in Kabul from various provinces to exchange ideas with our administration strongly request the expansion of ISAF to other parts of the country. They want to be certain that Afghanistan will not be once again left alone by the international community.

We owe a particular debt of gratitude to the donor community for its assistance to Afghanistan, but would like to remind our friends that the majority of the financial pledges made to Afghanistan in Tokyo Conference are still unfulfilled. We have presented the donor countries with the National Development Framework to indicate our priorities, help manage the reconstruction programs effectively, and channel financial resources to national capacity building. It is our position that the consolidation of peace and stability depends on the international community's sustained engagement in providing funding for reconstruction. Implementation of labor-intensive projects throughout Afghanistan has a direct influence on security and demobilization of combatants. Despite these facts, the level of direct financial support provided to the Afghan Government can be characterized as insufficient, considering the generosity of donors at Tokyo Conference, where over $4.5 billion was pledged to support Afghanistan. The Afghan people urgently need the pledges in Tokyo to be turned into cash.

While we agree that there is still a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, I would like to request the international community to focus more on reconstruction, to support long-term recovery efforts, and to treat the causes of poverty, not its symptoms. Building highways and repairing the road networks in Afghanistan is an important undertaking with significant economical, political and social impact for the Afghan people. It creates jobs, helps with security and demobilization, provides better connectivity, strengthens national unity and assists with the reintegration of Afghanistan into the regional economy. Yet, the donor community is slow to answer to our repeated demand for reconstruction of highways.

Mr. President, while the world has now clearly voiced its unity to honor the dignity of life and reconstruction over terror, destruction and subversion, the threat posed by the terrorist groups require resolute commitment on the part of all nations to fight this evil to the end. I have warned the world before the September 1 I tragedy about the dangers of terrorism. Afghan people have suffered tremendously in the hand of Taliban and terrorist groups. They killed many thousands people, destroyed villages and burned orchards. Afghanistan is a Muslim country and the people of Afghanistan truly believe in the teaching of Islam, which is based on peace, justice, equality, moderation and tolerance, and reject arty abuse and misuse of the holy name of Islam by the extremist groups to justify violence, death and destruction. My vision of Afghanistan is of a modern State that builds on our Islamic values promoting justice, rule of law, human rights and freedom of commerce, and forming a bridge between cultures and civilizations; a model of tolerance and prosperity based on the rich heritage of the Islamic civilization.

Afghanistan is committed to continue to have friendly relationship with its neighbors and the international community and to be a resilient partner in the war against terrorism. The establishment of security and prosperity within Afghanistan is a means of promoting security and prosperity in the region and the world. We do not want to live in the past, and are determined not to let the events of the past harm our relations with our neighbors. We extend a sincere hand of friendship to all our neighbors on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other. We will never permit our soil to be used for any subversive activities against any of our neighbors and countries in the region, and we expect the same.

We are deeply concerned about the loss of innocent lives in Palestine and Israel. We strongly support the realization of the right of self-determination of the people of Palestine. We are also concerned about the dispute between our friends, India and Pakistan. We have good relationship with both countries. The people of Afghanistan know the high price of war and violence and are yearning for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. They know that a peaceful resolution of the issues between Pakistan and India is an urgent necessity to consolidate peace and security in the region and the world at large.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Switzerland for joining the family of the United Nations, and extend my appreciation to Iran and Pakistan for having accepted millions of Afghan refugees, and donor countries, organizations and people that have assisted Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President.