Translation of President Ashraf Ghani’s Keynote Address at the House of People of the Afghan Parliament

Translation of President Ashraf Ghani’s Keynote Address at the House of People of the Afghan Parliament

[The speech was delivered in Pashto and Dari in the event of introducing ministerial nominees to the House of People for a vote of confidence]

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Distinguished First Vice President Amrullah Saleh,

Distinguished Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish,

Honorable Speaker of the Lower House and Board of Directors of the House of People;

Honorable Hamdullah Mohib, the National Security Advisor;

Honorable Mohammad Shakir Kargar, Chief of Staff for the President;

Honorable Dr. Fazly, Director General of AOP;

Ministerial nominees, nominees of Da Afghanistan Bank and National Directorate of Security;

Esteemed members of the parliament;

May peace and mercy of God be upon you.

I am honored to address all my compatriots across the country and the Afghan refugees and diaspora all over the world from the House of People.

We are at a time in history that requires rationality in planning and determination in action by all of us as individuals and as a collective and unified body.

Our today’s decisions determine our future. Today, not only to heal the pain of our five living generations at home and abroad is a priority, but the welfare of our next five generations is also to be addressed. Today is the day of dedication, sacrifice and centrality of the polity that can ensure national unity and social justice in our beloved Afghanistan.

Today is not a day for any of us to ask for privileges for ourselves, families, or friends. Rather, today is the day for us to stand up for the implementation and consolidation of the Constitution, in which the values ​​of the Islamic Republic and the equal rights of all Afghan citizens are enshrined and our future roadmap is delineated.

The absolute majority of Afghans are under the age of 30. The contemplation of this generation, both men and women in our country, is the product of the last twenty years of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This generation is future-oriented and system-oriented.

Including all of us, the greatest wish of Afghanistan’s five living generations is to end the inherited and imposed violence so that the ambition of national unity, inclusion of all classes and balanced development can be realized at every corner of the country.

Distinguished members of the National Assembly and the House of People;

Meeting you today to introduce the cabinet nominees is a demonstration of the profound respect to the values of Afghanistan Constitution and emphasis on the doctrine of separation of powers between the three branches of the government.

Respect to you as the representatives of the nation is indeed respect to your clients to whom you and I indebted.

Full understanding and coordination between the legislature and the executive branches is the necessity of today that will lead to a robust and consolidated Republic system tomorrow. Understanding and coordination requires adherence to the authorities, responsibilities, principles and provisions enshrined in the Constitution. None of the three forces can carry out the tasks of another force in parallel.

I am honored to have not intervened in any judicial case so far, and I have always respected and strengthened the independence of the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Office. I have always found my meetings with the honorable members of both Houses fruitful. I have always welcomed their suggestions for enhancing the capacities of the Houses and taken actions to implement them.

Clear criteria are needed to agree upon principles and to review draft laws quickly. Due to the urgency in endorsement of laws, I welcome the obvious principles in the relation of respected ministers and attorneys.

I also welcome your plans and recommendations on organizations structures of the State Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs, Secretariat of the House of People, and Secretariat of the House of Elders. And as pledged, I will meet with the representatives of people and senators to receive and address their challenges.

Distinguished members of the House of People and honorable fellow citizens;

Our Defense and Security forces have consistently proven that they are the true guardians of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and committed to the values ​​of the rule of law and are the defenders of the independence, national security and freedom of Afghanistan. The courage, heroism and sacrifices of our forces will never be forgotten.

Esteemed representatives of people; your support for the Consultative Peace Jirga was invaluable.

I express gratitude to you for your active contribution to resolving the issue of the release of Taliban prisoners and your role in drafting a clear and comprehensive resolution for lasting and dignified peace, which sets out a roadmap for negotiations with the Taliban.

Despite assurance of a ceasefire and significant reduction in violence during the Consultative Peace Jirga, unfortunately the Taliban and their supporters continued to perpetrate their acts of violence.  The recent attacks of Taliban on Helmand, Ghor and other parts of the country show that they still believe in the false narrative of Fatah. I pray for the souls of the martyrs of the recent incidents in Helmand, Ghor and other parts of Afghanistan, and offer my condolences to the families of the victims.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Afghanistan and President of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; I assure every soldier, officer and member of our security forces from this arena of the House of Nation that the nation strongly supports you, the honest children of this homeland.

Taliban will never win according to their narrative of victory.

Only our 38,000 Special Forces and Air Corps are enough to resolutely defend the rights of the people and the right of our will and independence. In the recent the National Security Council meeting; I instructed the officials to quickly, easily and effectively take care of the families of the honorable martyrs of our security and defense forces, and to address the needs of their children and families.

I extend gratitude to the National Assembly for its continued support of the national defense and security forces and count on your enduring support.

Respected Representatives of the Nation, Sisters and Brothers;

We are not alone, because the relationship that we have forged with our international and strategic friends based on common interests remain in place. The Geneva Conference for Afghanistan set to be held on 23 – 24 November is a good example of the international commitment to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

In recent days, the Afghan government has held discussions with senior US officials, who have reassured the Afghan government that the country remains committed to all of its commitments to Afghanistan’s future.

This means that US security and military support to Afghanistan will continue. A good example of this support was seen in Helmand in recent days. US forces stood with the forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to defend Helmand. We are also reassured that US economic assistance, especially to our heroic defense and security forces, will continue.

As you can see, the United States is practically helping us to move forward with the preparations for the Geneva Conference which will be in the upcoming month. The commitment of US assistance to Afghanistan in the areas of health and education is long-term.

Similarly, US commitment to women’s rights and to strengthen democratic institutions is in place and has not changed. This means that the United States, the European Union and other allies stand with the people and government of Afghanistan to sustain the achievements of the past nineteen years.

These senior US officials are also committed to consulting with us on the implementation of their future plans, and will remain with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as a partner and partner in peace, security and other issues.

It is pleasing that a majority of countries and international organizations have made commitments with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for many years. And majority of the world’s countries are in agreement with us that they will stand with us in peace process towards achieving the government’s end state which is a united, independent, and democratic Afghanistan at peace within and with the region and the world.

Respected Representatives of the Nation, honorable compatriots;

Our environment is full of both opportunities and threats, how do we take advantage of opportunities and overcome the threats? It depends on our determination and capacity.

Before I dwell on the opportunities and threats, let me clarify that today our state, society and economy have the capacity to secure our future.

Standing on your own feet and developing our resources is not just an empty slogan. Every day we experience and witness that when the national will is present, then the potential can be harnessed.

On Saturday, I had the honor of meeting 100 NCOs and police sergeants. Through a very competitive and transparent recruitment process and out of 600 candidates, they were selected and sent to the 29 provinces’ 100 districts of Afghanistan to serve as district police chiefs.

There is a poet in Dari language:

A great warrior is better than hundred thousands of spear carriers.

And these 100 appointed ones will do the work of a hundred thousand, God willing.

In my official trip to Qatar, I met with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s negotiation team that is led by Mr. Masoom Stanekzai. Unlike all analyses, our negotiation team members were united, determined and strongly motivated to defend the national values and the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This is the best illustration of our political capacity.

I had pledged to build large mosques in each and every district of Afghanistan. The latest information is that in each province the mosques are in their completion stage.  In the 377 provinces of Afghanistan and within the next one year or 18 months, these mosques will be built on our own budget, on the government’s budget by Afghans. I am confident that these 377 mosques, if god willing, will be completed within the next 18 months frame so that all Muslim Afghan citizens finds out who serves them and paves the way for them.

The people of Parwan province are witnessed that after flash floods in the province; we could clean and rebuild the destroyed canal that would take months within only 8 days. With this, we saved the grapes and fruits season within 8 days.

Our biggest strength is the Afghanistan’s Islamic scholars/Ulema. Their joint statement (Fatwa) set the stage for the first true ceasefire in Afghanistan, so that all Afghans agree to peace. Today I am proud of the Afghanistan Ulema for justifying to the world Ulema that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s claim is in accordance with the sharia law and that Taliban’s jihad has no aspect of sharia law.  If you want example, look at our Ulema in Doha.

They have proposed the Taliban to solve any disagreements through Quran, through ways of the Prophet and Sharia law and for them their base was their agreement with the United States. Now see who represents Islam?

What Afghan Defense and Security forces ask you all is obvious and simple; support fundamental reforms within Afghanistan National Army, National Directorate of Security, and particularly Afghan National Police; assign professionals to any job and consider meritocracy so that rules override relations; and they ask for your expressive voice in their support. I am grateful for your rallying voice in support for the ANDSF.

Likewise, the Afghan private sector should be appreciated for demonstrating its capacity.

At the peak of Corona pandemic, the danger of inflation prevailed and the fear of costs rising sky-high. The unprecedented coordination between the private sector and the government led to opening and keeping of other routes with the central Asian neighboring countries and later on with our other neighboring countries. This coordination resulted in smoothly running the markets. There was not a single district in Afghanistan that did not receive food or any other necessary items.

By God’s grace, this year our agricultural products increased by 10% compared to last year because of favorable weather conditions this year. In strengthening the close coordination between the private sector and the government, I would first like to thank all you members of the parliament and then my martyred brother Yousuf Ghazanfar.

I would also like to thank the thousands of our youths specially girls who have continued their professional higher studies in and outside the country. They will have the capacity to become Afghanistan’s human capital in taking up huge responsibilities.

Here I would like to thank the Afghan women from the bottom of my heart. You [The Afghan women] proved that you can run ministries, embassies and you can do any type of work.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your good management, for your hard work and for your dedication to the country. Afghanistan women will never go back.

This is a free country and everyone can express themselves. It is because of the Republic in which everyone has a place and everybody is free to express his/her opinion. Go and ask Mawalawi Haibatullah where he is hiding himself and why he is killing Afghans.  They say that they don’t attack Americans, Thank you, but why are you attacking us? Aren’t these your sons? Every day we build something and you destroy it. Come let’s have an open debate. Will you come to the open debate or no?

Do you know Afghans, by force no one can make them agree to anything? By these talks, good talks we all can embrace one another and this pride belongs to the Republic where all citizens raise their voice and we respect their voice.

I am very happy, especially for the positive changes that took places in all the provinces and would like to mention that in today’s Afghanistan there is no such province that does not have the youths, women, Ulema and other sectors capacity playing a role in its development. All Afghans agree that there should be fundamental changes brought in all provinces of Afghanistan and if God willing these changes will come.

Likewise, there is promising capacity among our refugees in Iran and Pakistan that we can take advantage of it in development of the country. To mobilize the Afghan diaspora and bring harmony among them for which we will take what is necessary. They do not want to occupy others’ positions, but come with their skills and resources to share their experiences with us. They are an integral part of Afghanistan.

Forty years ago, 99.9 percent of Afghanistan’s population was inside Afghanistan. Today, we should define the Afghan nation in a way that includes every Afghan anywhere in the world. They are human capitals worth billions of dollars and we should absorb them and mobilize them.

I thank every Afghan for his/her pure feelings and for their assistance materially and intellectually, and I am grateful to those Afghans whose heart is beating for this homeland.

Now I would highlight the opportunities:

First, Afghanistan’s greatest opportunity is that the transformation of the Asian continent is with us. Three hundred years later, Asia is once again becoming a major economic power. Over the next few decades, Asia will transform to a cohesive continental economy.

Afghanistan that is situated at the heart of Asia is the shortest route that can link South Asia with Central Asia and West Asia, of which we can take a great advantage. With railways, pipelines, transmission lines, Afghanistan’s location will become an asset like the past. 

Second, our natural capital in the mining sector alone is estimated around one trillion dollars.

Our memorandums of understanding with the Australian Fortescue Metals Group are not just on paper. We hold regular meetings biweekly. If the 20,000 megawatts of electricity is generated from water, it will fundamentally transform Afghanistan. This will likely provide the same opportunity for Afghanistan within the next two centuries similar to what was provided for Singapore in 20th century, in 1970s.

Third, water is our honor. Here I would like to quote a few sentences by Abdul Majeed Khan Zabuli. Our tragedy regarding our water resources is three-fold.

First, attack of Alauddin Jahan-soz on Ghazni that destroyed water supply networks. Second, Genghis Khan’s attack that targeted [water supply] networks of northern Afghanistan and Herat. Third, Amir Timur’s attack on Sistan’s network. Today Afghans are determined to compensate these three historical tragedies. I congratulate all of you that after 700 years, Kamal Khan dam will be filled with water and Nimruz will become green. God willing, we will witness a green Afghanistan in the next four years.

International researches have proven that Afghanistan was the center of great civilizations and a crossroad for movement of goods, people and ideas, and a point of people-to-people relations. Before the invasion of Genghis Khan, we were the center of a great Islamic civilization. The great thinkers and intellectuals of that civilization namely Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni, Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi, Ibn Sina, Sanai and thousands of other stars were nurtured in this homeland. They are now called “the Forgotten Civilization”.

The greatest opportunity we have is to understand the deep roots of our Islamic civilization and to once again become the center of the great Islamic civilization. At this juncture of the history where the theses of the clash civilizations are raised, let us re-create the center of dialogue and harmony of civilizations in this sacred soil. There were unique features in our Islamic Civilization that no other civilization could have. Can you tell me which civilization had a hundred-year translation project? All philosophies from Greek to Indian Algebra were merged within the framework of our Islamic civilization. So we need to understand our past and do not believe in the misinterpretations that orientalists have created regarding our holy religion.

We are a strong nation. We have clearly proved it to foreigners, particularly those unfamiliar with our history, that Afghans have never raised the flag of separatism. Show me one Afghan in the worst conditions of Afghanistan having chanted the slogan of separation. We are Afghans, we are Muslims and we will remain Afghans and Muslims forever.

What are the threats?

First threat arises from uncertainty, concern and short-term perspective. We, however, need to stand against the odds so that we can deal with any threat.

The second threat we are facing is terrorist networks. In my opinion, it is the fifth wave of violence that we are facing within the past two centuries.

There is no relation between the sacred religion of Islam and terrorism. It is worth mentioning that the first suicide attack took place in Sri Lanka, a non-Muslim country. Suicide attack and terrorism is a tactic that has no religious basis.

To the same extent that our location is significant for integration of Asia and security of the world, the terrorist networks are pursuing the goal of destabilizing our country. For them, Afghanistan is a battleground.

Daesh believes that the army of apocalypse will rise from Khurasan, which is our historical name and enter into the final battle with Dajjal [an evil figure in Islamic eschatology] in Dabiq. They have nothing positive for us.

The Taliban faced Afghanistan with world only for one person, Osama bin Laden, the current situation is the consequence of their mistakes. They are responsible for the unrest because they stand with an individual instead and turned a blind eye to the nation. They must not repeat the same mistake.

The people of Afghanistan are no one’s mercenary army and nobody can undermine the blood, honor and will of our youth, elders and scholars.

The Taliban must clearly assure the Afghan people that they cut off their ties with other terrorist networks and that they put Islam and Afghans [Afghaniyat] first and before their personal interests.

The third threat is organized criminal networks. Today drug production has evolved from heroin to synthetic drugs. Today not only millions of our children are suffering from addiction to such drugs, but there is no home or mother in the region and the world that is not passing through its pain.

Countering this threat requires national, regional and strong international cooperation, especially by the countries which are its consumers.

Corruption is the fourth threat. Uncertainty to the future is a significant driver of corruption. Transfer of tens of billions of dollars to other countries is a clear example of this uncertainty. The money was earned here but is transferred overseas.

I do not want to go into details today. We are strongly determined to root out corruption. In collaboration with you, we present a coherent and comprehensive plan in collaboration with you in the upcoming Geneva Conference on Afghanistan.

Fifth threat is unbalanced development. I want to underscore that there is no first class, second class, and third class Afghan citizens. We all share one pain, but express it differently.

You are all in agreement that balanced development must be ensured in accordance with the Constitution. Instead of blaming each other, extend hand to each other and get together at this critical time in our history to enable us to overcome the past. There is no conflict of opinion among us although we speak in different languages; Dari, Uzbeki and Pashto. We need to listen to one another.

Do you want to pave the ground for Taliban’s return? What did you learn from [what was done with] Amanullah Khan? Did you take lessons from the collapse of Dawood Khan? What lessons did you learn from divisions during the civil war? It wouldn’t serve the purpose if everybody sticks to his/her personal opinion. That doesn’t work! Whatever happened to us, it was due to our own deeds. Nobody is innocent here; every one of us is at fault. We must get together and acknowledge that we will not return to the past. And there is not a single family that has not been affected by the ongoing conflict and bloodshed.

We must be determined and respect the sacrifices of our martyrs. We need to have a clear plan. It cannot be solved by chanting slogans. We need to fundamentally transform the government apparatus to enable it to serve the nation. This must be your slogan.

Let us agree to take actions in certain areas; that is why, I have come to introduce the cabinet nominees to you for the vote of confidence. Has any other president ever attended here to introduce the cabinet nominees?

I have met you hundreds of times and will meet in the future, but today we are here to act in compliance with principles.

We consider three dimensions in the Geneva Conference.

It is obvious that Afghanistan cannot be dependent on aids forever.

First, we are keen to create a dynamic economy through which we can pay for our defense and security forces. We have the resources. This country can stand on its feet if we, together, tackle with corruption. To that end, I need the House of People’s support.

Sisters and brothers;

Secondly, we must come up with a fundamental plan for governmental reforms. A small minority has defamed Afghanistan. Let us bring nationwide reforms with the national will. I especially want to focus on Afghanistan’s districts. Poor governance is clearly surfaced in Afghan districts, so join us to help these districts stand on their feet.

In terms of organizational structures as Mr. Rahman Rahmani, the Lower House Speaker, mentioned, I agree with you. Taking into account the status quo, the criterions based of which the provinces have been categorized to first, second and third class is not in line with the spirit of the constitution.

Let us get together and develop Afghanistan’s most impoverished and underdeveloped provinces by allocating as more resources as possible. Let us support private sector to bring mobility in the provinces. We must not chant them in words, but put them into practice.

Our third issue is peace-building. We must distinguish between peace making and peace building. I ask you to support your negotiating team and give them enough time. You should not be micromanaged on daily basis. Mr. Rahmani; at the end of the day, will any peace plan be legitimate or take effect if it is not approved by the Parliament and Loya Jirga?  Aren’t you taking the final decision, as the representatives of the people of Afghanistan?

Your negotiating delegation [in Doha] will strongly represent your national interests, whether four women in the delegation, our Ullema or its other members. Taliban can reach each and every one of them and offer them bribe or allure them, but they are there to speak for you. So it is our responsibility to mobilize all our resources to ensure peace-building.

Pakistan insists frequently that Afghan refugees must repatriate. You know about Iran. Can you bear such burdens in absence of an effective state and economic and social analysis? We must understand that building peace requires resources and our collective effort. One million hectares of land must be irrigated to create the required mobility.

But nation-building is the biggest issue that we need to deal with. You have two choices, brothers and sisters!

Is there any part of Afghanistan that hasn’t suffered? Is there any Afghan family that has not paid sacrifices? Should we focus on the past that who was responsible for which tragedy or so? Or we should make a decision to look ahead to the future like the people of Spain who after Franco’s death decided to focus for twenty years on building the future. Let bygones be bygones. Let this unpleasant history remain history.

Nation-building will not be possible by denying small minorities and other ethnicities of our country. Every Afghan is a flower of this garden, Afghanistan. To have a beautiful and colorful garden, we need to ensure justice, coherence and good planning.  These can only be realized through planning, not chanting slogans. Insulting one Afghan by another Afghan will lead to weakening the whole system.

Respect women and give time and opportunity to youth and honor our esteemed Islamic scholars/Ullema. We must be familiar with various layers of our society, understand the realities that lie within and defend them. Nation-building requires coherent programs, especially in the fields of education and higher education. Intellectually, we have to accept that it is ideas that create. And institutions will not change until we and you accept the ideas wholeheartedly.

The fifth issue is our regional and international relations. Our future is tied to our region. I am proud that Afghanistan has become an integral part of Central Asia during the past five years. If it were not for our relations with Central Asia today, do you think that the Corona crisis would have been managed economically and with such simplicity?

The region is increasingly recognizing the importance of Afghanistan, and our regional relations are grounded on common interests, mutual respect and mutual trust. And we have to solve our problems in the region, not everything can be solved by slogans, but by coherent action with understanding our interests and creating a suitable atmosphere to secure them.

From an international standpoint, Afghanistan remains important, but we can consolidate our ties at international level when we are no longer dependent on foreign aids and charity. We will be able to define our international relations when we stand on our own feet. Regional consensus is key for Afghanistan and is a part of our critical mission to accomplish.

We want to have the many friends and are willing not to get involved in hostilities of others. This is the key point and the basis of our policy.

I thank you all for your attention. I introduce the new cabinet nominees to you. Upon receiving the vote of confidence from the Parliament, we will have a united and committed team that will be partnering me in turning our national visions into reality, and that the National Assembly can count on them.

Long live Islamic Republic of Afghanistan