Remarks by His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at the concluding ceremony of consultative Loya Jirga for peace.

Remarks by His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at the concluding ceremony of consultative Loya Jirga for peace.

May 3, 2019

In the name of Allah, the most compassionate and merciful

At the outset, I would like to welcome the honorable patriots from across the country.

Jihadi leader, distinguished professor, a personality of unity and a point of connectivity for Afghans, Mr.  Abdul Rab Sayyaf.

Elected deputies of the Loya Jirga Mr. Hadid, Mr. Norzai, Ms. Sorabi, Mr. Safi and Mr. Akhundzada

Distinguished members of the secretariat Mr. Erfani, Mr. Haidari, Ms Tayeb, Mr. Karimi, Ms. Akbari and Mr. Rahimi.

Thank you all.

Excellency professor Sayaf

I am confident that the people of Afghanistan echo my gratitude and appreciation for the marvelous leadership you have exhibited in leading the consultative Loya Jirga for peace.

I also thank the entire administrative team.

My special gratitude to the head of the organizing commission, Mr. Umar Daudzai, and all the working groups. Our salute to ANDSF personnel and leadership and the security commission led by our capable chief of army staff and his staff.

My sincere appreciations and thanks to the Kabul Polytechnic University, professors and students for their patience and cooperation who bore the trouble of being away from the dormitories and the classes.

Members of the media family both for being part of the Loya Jirga, and for their excellent coverage.

Very dear residents of Kabul, particularly those who live nearby, thanks for your patience and I extend my apologies for road blocks, closures and disturbances that were caused to your routines and businesses.

To security forces, we are simply proud of you. You are the sons of this soil, true patriots and real guardians of democracy.

I convey my deepest condolences to the family of Fazel Ahmad Faizi who was killed in Faryab province yet his cousin, Husain Ahmad Faizi, a member of the Loya Jirga decided to stay on for the sake of the country and miss the last glimpse of a dear member of his family. This is how the dedication for peace is amongst the members of the Loya Jirga.

My condolences and sympathy to the respected family of Shirzad Safi, an elected young member of the Loya Jirga from Laghman province who was brutally killed days before the inauguration of this massive event. I wholeheartedly sympathize with the family of the little baby who died on the way to the hospital perhaps due to the road blocks and longer travel time to the medical services.

Dear and distinguished delegates. In this Loya Jirga I did not come up with a design or a concept. I trusted the collective wisdom of the Afghan people and gave them a blank check to decide. I knew the choice of people would never be wrong. I trusted our traditions and I put my heart in the Mohammadi (PBUH) tradition way of governance which is based on consent and consultation.

I carefully listened and read your resolution. It should no longer be referred to as a resolution of the Loya Jirga. It is now my road map for peace and negotiations. This is now an action plan for the government of Afghanistan and a large part of our peace strategy.

Professor Sayyaf, I echo your call, we must rely on the will of God. We will.

All the necessary administrative steps for a smooth follow up will be taken. You will be witness to progress and coordination along the provisions of the resolution you just passed.

The relevant mechanisms as envisioned by the Loya Jirga will maintain two ways of contacts with you. They will keep you updated on peace developments through SMS and other digital means of communications. It means the Loya Jirga will continue in digital form.

Secondly, a series of administrative steps will be undertaken to contact with each and every one of this indigenous, pure and selfless pan Afghan network of people. We make sure it is strengthened and we call upon each one of you to connect with each other and keep it as a vibrant network for peace.

Professor Sayyaf,

There is no higher honor for me than representing such a resilient and humble nation. You exhibited honor, dignity and pride and we make sure the government represents and reflects that reality in its conduct.

Honorable delegates

This network of yours is henceforth a great treasure and asset for the country. We are not done. It is the beginning of the journey. We will be in touch on a regular basis.

It will be only through working together and remaining networked to fulfill our responsibilities for peace and translating this conviction into action in communities, districts and neighborhoods. I will ask the governors to take into consideration your advice and respect your efforts for peace. We are all one.

If you say I.

And I say I

Then there is neither you nor I.

If I say you, and you say you

Then there is you and there is I.

So there will be we.

We are all Afghans and under one umbrella and believes of Islamic faith.

From my heart and with sincerity, I thank the women who have come from rural Afghanistan, perhaps for the first time to Kabul. There are women from the Afghan villages who lead their communities or are involved in crucial social activism.  They have come here to share the bitter tales of agony. Yes, that is the bitter part. There is also a sweet part and that sweetness is the meaningful and profound participation of women in such a national forum, at this gathering of national significance. Your participation is in accord with our traditions and our beliefs. I thank the First Lady for her work too.

Honorable delegates, men, women, young, elderly and each and every one of you here, you raised the voices of 31 million Afghans in this hall. Thank you for your commitment. You shared your tales and narratives and these narratives from all corners of the country reaffirm the following.

Consolidation of citizen centric governance.

Strengthening the stature of Kabul.

Strengthening Afghanistan as a shared home of ever Afghan is the ambition of every Afghan. This is every Afghan’s land and is our land.

Dear fellow Afghans

What a beautiful tradition this Loya Jirga is. A narration that brings together its stories of glory and sorrow and envisions a common solution with complete cohesion.

Indeed, you the 3200 delegates attending this consultative Loya Jirga for peace, spoke for 31 million people of this land.  It was a unanimous voice. It was a call for unconditional peace. A national imperative. You challenged the Taliban and swore them to their Islamiat and Afghanhood to renounce violence and join in rebuilding the country.

I stand firm with my commitment to pave the ground for the Taliban to be a partner force for development and prosperity not a tool for demolition and violence. You just listened to the song of Afghan children.

My offer is sincere and I firmly follow it. Think about it and think through.  Think of what we have. We have mountains. We have deserts. We have forests. We have rivers. We have vast land. We have great people. We have a viable geographical location. We have a pleasant weather. We have a proud history. We have a solid national identity bestowed upon us by God. And we have dignity.

I occasionally visualize the situation post peace. That is coming. The first gift of peace will be end of our dependency on foreign aid. I call upon Taliban to join hands so we achieve this pride together and in unity.

Oh my soil

Oh the home of every Afghan

If you are in void of dignity, there can’t have individual dignity

If you are in misery, I can’t have calm sleep and personal prosperity

Am ready to sacrifice myself to your mountains and to your rivers

In every valley there is a legacy of bravery and sword

Either I make you a viable member of the world community

Or I fade as dirt in your feet.

I call upon the Taliban to listen. Yes, we have fought against each other.  Sometimes you won. Other times we did. Sometimes we win. Sometimes you do. The end is nothing but constant misery and agony for the poorest of this land. They all want peace.

Our concept of peace won’t mean over stepping you. Peace won’t mean crushing you, neither will it mean the demolition of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Peace means building upon our commonalities and investing on our commonalities. Peace means coming to the middle ground to live in harmony. Peace would mean living under a pan Afghan umbrella acceptable to all.

Let’s make this Ramadan different. Let’s add joy to the dinning table of our nation. You can choose either to be bringers of joy or instruments of pain and suffering. The choice is yours.

In honor of this loya Jirga, to show respect to the holy month of Ramadan, as an act and gesture of good will and doing good to fellow human beings, I announce the release of 175 Taliban detainees who have lingered in jails for years.

I ask the Taliban to send a liaison person to Kabul to receive these released detainees and make it a celebrated occasion.

This is how I embrace the holy month of Ramadan and want to see how the Taliban receive and reciprocate it.

To the Afghan people my message in regards to peace is very clear.  Our voice for peace is a sign of our strength. It emanates from the strength of our brave ANDSF and our firm belief in justice.

As Muslims we all cherish the legacy of the Hudaibiya peace treaty, a tradition left to us by our prophet Mohammed (PBUH). That treaty conquered doubt and complain and resulted in spread of the faith worldwide. Peace is never a sign of weakness. But a sign of strength and determination. Professor Sayyaf just said that heaven is open for souls void of hate and anger. Let’s empty our hearts of hate and revenge and make peace to embrace the heaven we all believe in. Let’s be inhabitants of heaven not hell.

Our voice for peace is an aspiration of our vision for the economy of our country. Peace will benefit all and violence brings good to none. The gift of peace will bring a flow of foreign and domestic investment amounting to billions of dollars. It will stop our youth taking high risks and dangerous routes to illegally reach work markets in foreign countries and seek labor jobs.

The gift of peace shouldn’t be distributed in the name of the children of the Taliban or children of the government. It must benefit the Afghans. We must end the fragmentation of our identity and time has come to make it one. We must restore the dignity our common identity rightly deserves.

The excuse and justification can be anything but I ask the Taliban has the result of your fight been anything but further pain and destruction? No. Once again the choice is yours. Either you take part in happiness of the nation or you bring them further violence and suffering. I ask the Taliban if they have ever asked the people as to what they want. I challenge them to dare bringing 3,500 Afghans under one ceiling with this diverse composition and ask them what they want. I trusted my nation with a blank check. I challenge Mullah Hebatullah to dare do this. Could he?

Honorable representative of the Afghan people.

Tribal elders;

Religious scholars

Members of the Wolesi Jirga [lower house]

Members of the senate

Members of the provincial councils who made immense efforts in making this event happen. I thank each and every one of you.  Young leaders from across the country and the empowered and wise Afghan women.

Rest assured that peace won’t mean going back, fragmentation or meltdown.  Never. I know the state of our ANDSF and their progress. This is not the right venue to talk about that.  Our offer of peace is not a sign of weakness.

Our defense and security forces stood and are standing like mountains. They didn’t lose anything yet achieved much headways. Peace plan doesn’t mean start of the isolation of Afghanistan or abandonment of our country by international community. No. Never. It means going from a security centric presence to development centric era and phase. It will mean the end of war centric diplomacy to one evolving around peace.

Our narrative post peace will be how to turn Afghanistan into a corridor of energy and transmission lines between Central and South Asia. How to connect Central Asia to South Asia after a century of disconnect. It will mean how to find markets and buyers for our hidden treasures, mines and minerals.

Peace plan doesn’t mean having our hands on trigger but rather on work and jobs.

My message to the countries in the region and particularly to our most populated neighbor Pakistan is that the gift of peace will be generous and big enough to spur growth and your economy will benefit directly. We enjoy friendly and sincere relations with all nations around the globe and we want that status to be in our relations with Pakistan too. With Pakistan we want a relation to stand on;

  • Mutual interest and mutual respect
  • A relationship void of threat and apprehension but full of confidence and cooperation.
  • A relationship with aspirations emanating from hearts of the two nations not operation rooms of the intelligence services of the two governments.
  • A transparent and measurable relationship not of uncertainty, denials and suspicion
  • An equal state-to-state relationship backed by peace loving peoples of two sovereign countries.

I call upon Pakistan to join hands with us proving the skeptics and doubters wrong.  Let’s demonstrate that it is not only Europeans who can solve their differences civilly but we are heirs to a rich human civilization as well. Let’s cherish our Islamic civilization and respect our roots.

By any means possible, we are determined to roll back pain and agony. In this journey we want to engrave the cooperation of our neighbors in the walls of our hearts and minds. We hope Pakistan is on the top of this sacred list.

I praise and value the policy of the United States of America for peace in Afghanistan. Our relationship with U.S. is long term and foundational. The government of Afghanistan played a significant role in shaping the South Asia strategy of President Donald Trump.  Peace building is an integral component of that strategy.  When it was launched, I extended a hand of peace negotiations both to the Taliban and Pakistan while on a visit to Kandahar.

Bringing peace won’t mean isolating Afghanistan. There is no place for worry and panic.

Let me thank India, a long time and historic friend of Afghanistan who have stood with us with patience and generosity. India has a deep policy towards Afghanistan.  Respect to determination of the Afghan people and respect to constitutional order is in the heart of their policy.

My gratitude to Japan for its cooperation with the people of Afghanistan in vital and fundamental areas. Two Tokyo conferences enabled Afghan nation to move forward. I thank ambassador of Japan to Kabul and all diplomats of the donor countries that helped Afghanistan hold these conferences.

I would like to extend sincere thanks to Germany for hosting three significant conferences. First Bonn Conference, Berlin Conference and Second Bonn Conference, and appreciate their multifaceted assistance in different areas.

I remain grateful to the EU for hosting the Brussels Conference during the recent years, where over $15 billion of development assistance were provided to Afghanistan. I am also grateful to Netherlands, U.K., Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Spain and other European countries that spared no efforts to assist Afghanistan.

I would like to thank China, our great neighbor that welcomed our plan for transformation of Afghanistan to one of the significant junctures of the Silk Road. We are in the middle of four billion people. All we need is a move and an initiative and we will achieve prosperity God willing.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Australia and Canada as well. NATO is our permanent partner and 46 NATO nations are engaged with us. I won’t name these countries one by one, but I extend my gratitude to all the countries that donated from $100,000 to billions of dollars. The international community has been a great friend of Afghanistan; this nation will pay back and reciprocate. This nation will reciprocate respect with respect and hospitality with hospitality. I hope the families of those who have served here in Afghanistan visit once peace is restored, and together with us enjoy the beauty of our nature and hospitality of our people.

Likewise, the other countries of the world and our neighbors are enjoying friendly relations with Afghanistan. You know about our expanding relationship with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

In the meantime, we are maintaining a good relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and value their principled stance which reiterates and insists an Afghan State centric talks and negotiations with the Taliban.

Inspired and mandated by the decision and resolution of the Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace, I call on the Taliban to get ready for intra-Afghan peace talks. I repeat: inspired by the decision of the Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace, I call on the Taliban to prepare for intra-Afghan peace talks.

We stand ready to facilitate intra-Afghan peace talks. We want Afghanistan itself to host its own peace process. If you want to come to Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Bamiyan, Nangarhar, Faryab, Badakhshan, or any other part of Afghanistan, Balkh. Come and welcome.

Uzbekistan, the birthplace of Imam Bukhari and Imam Tirmidi the two reknowned figures of Islam, I have visited their teaching mosques, has offered to host Afghan talks. I am grateful to them for expressing readiness to host Afghanistan peace talks.

I also thank Turkmenistan that have also showed preparedness to host our peace talks.

I express gratitude to Indonesia, a civilization that embraced Islam without fight, for offering to host Afghan peace talks.

The EU is a richly experienced body in peace negotiations which has shown readiness to facilitate peace negotiations for Afghanistan. Now it is up to the Taliban whether they would like to come to Afghanistan or choose elsewhere.

I also thank the Russian Federation for its immense efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan. Afghanistan enjoys deep-rooted relations with Russia and we are keen to expand our cordial bilateral economic relations to pre-invasion era of 70s.

We want to thank the custodian of two holy mosques, His Royal Highness King of Saudi Arabia for his immense help and also mobilizing the imams of the two Holy mosques of Makah and Medina to pray and call for peace in Afghanistan. I immediately said yes to those calls without a second of hesitation.

I admire the UAE for hosting a summit for assistance for Afghanistan this year. I thank the EU who have made an immense commitment for post-peace Afghanistan for its construction.

As I mentioned, China is our neighbor and a global power. We thank them as well.

I am grateful to all international institutions chiefly the UN that has extended their cooperation for restoring peace to our country.

Their unwaivered support of the international community brings happiness to our nation and solidifies our hope as no one in this country wants to go back to the dark era of the past.

In conclusion, respecting the decisions of the Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace and seeing them henceforth as a significant part of the government plan for peace, I once again highlight my take away

The Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace advised and authorized me to assign a negotiating team.

I will assign a negotiating team, not an army of negotiators.

The Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace gives me the mandate to put into motion a plan inspired from unity and accord of this Jirga. You have advised me for consensus that there can’t be a bigger and more meaningful consensus than the one in front of your eyes and in this hall. I heard you and heard you clearly.

Reinforcing Prof. Sayyaf’s words and putting trust in God, we move forward fearlessly and will translate your decision into practice and programs.

I stand solid and ready to fulfill your legitimate demand and bring about a ceasefire. I am certain that our defense and security forces are brave and capable enough to manage and safeguard the ceasefire with strict discipline and keep the order. If the Taliban say yes to our offer, we will be able to work on its technical details.

Long live Afghanistan

Long live Afghanistan

Long live Afghanistan

Long live the great tradition of Loya Jirga in our land.