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We need a roadmap for peace on basis of mutual cooperation: Karzai

Here is the completed speech of former President Hamid Karzai’s at 7th Moscow Conference

Chair of this distinguished gathering, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen:

In the world today, more so the region I come from, we seem to be caught in a deadly trap- a trap into which important regional players, and world powers, have got sucked in owing to short-sightedness, and on account of the faith of some in the currency of power alone.

Our plight can be traced to the lack of a common urge to contest ideologies and policies that give rise to extremism and violence, which appear to be fostered under some cynical plan, and the absence of common endeavour for peace among the major international forces and the regional powers in the context of the hotspots of the world. My country, Afghanistan, is living proof of this.

What we desperately need is a roadmap for peace built on the basis of mutual cooperation so that the ongoing violence and long-term suffering of people is brought to an end, and development given a chance. Great power assertiveness, and the malign operations of their proxies, must be ended at the earliest.

Distinguished Guests,

Afghanistan, has perhaps become an even more complex place, seen through the prism of insecurity engendered on account of the use of religious extremism and terrorist violence, than was the case before the intervention of US and NATO forces. The methods employed by these powerful entities have failed. Violence on an everyday basis and on an extensive scale has grown, not become less. This has been at immense cost to our people.

In the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people, the world powers, and our region supported and cooperated with the US in the effort to end terrorist sanctuaries and violence and bring about stability. The underlying strategic assumption was that the US and its allies would be able to handle the problem and that they are sincere in their mission. That hope has been dashed to the ground.

Seventeen years on Afghanistan is neither peaceful nor stable.

More terrorist groups have sprung up with clear signs that organized support is nurturing them. Otherwise, Daesh would not have emerged as the new danger. It has to be noted that this group has been supplied and strengthened during the full-scale military and intelligence presence of the US and NATO in the name of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, and at a time when the US is in complete control of the Afghan airspace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The prolongation of the war in Afghanistan, the absence of results and clarity of purpose, has not only added to the suffering of the afghan people but has also caused suspicions in Afghanistan and the region about the objectives of US presence in Afghanistan. To rectify this, it is imperative that the US regain the confidence of all the stakeholders, in particular that of the people of Afghanistan by the arrangement of a new compact guaranteeing the wellbeing of our country. Russia, China, India and Iran prominent powers that are in the region of the conflict can make a long-term contribution to the search for peace in Afghanistan and the region.

These major powers must act together to deal with terrorist violence which threatens regional stability. The US must act in tandem with other relevant countries to fabricate a common design for peace. And, in a multilateral world, it is best and in the interest of all to reach out across divides and political frontiers for the sake of peace and stability.

Distinguished Guests,

As matters stand today, it is clear that success will not come to us unless the following conditions are met: a/ Afghanistan regains ownership of its own processes and has sovereignty over all its affairs with particular emphasis on holding free and fair elections and the convening of the traditional Loya Jirga on issues of national importance.

and b/ a new mechanism is developed through the collaboration of major international and regional actors so that Afghanistan once again is seen as a place of cooperation rather than confrontation.

We do not want Afghanistan to turn into a war zone between the supporters of terrorism and those threatened by it. The people of my country do not want our land and territory to become a staging ground for any terrorist organisation. The whole region will suffer if that happens.

Time has come, therefore, for a compact that brings us all together with the common resolve to demonstrate cooperation in order to deal with the problem at hand. The US and Pakistan bear the greatest responsibility, of course, in taking meaningful steps toward peace. Decades of the use of extremism as an instrument of policy is at the root of our suffering. Pakistan, we hope, will finally recognise the danger and join hands with us in addressing all the issues. The government of Pakistan very much needs to do this for the sake of its own people who have for years suffered the consequences of a short-sighted policy. I must add that we, the people of Afghanistan, are profoundly thankful to our brothers and sisters, the people of Pakistan, for the decades of their warm hospitality to us.

It is very clear by now that the resolution of the conflict cannot come through the use of violence, or the bombardment of Afghan homes and villages. The idea of a military solution is now more unthinkable than ever before. Peace will come when the Afghans are truly incharge of the intra Afghan dialogue and of the entire peace process. This can happen only when the US and Pakistan genuinely and sincerely support the efforts and when other neighbours and concerned parties are on board and offer backing and facilitation, where they can.

Friends, Fellow Delegates, Distinguished Guests,

Permit me to recall a very constructive period in the history of my country- when the late King, Zaher Shah, chose to cooperate with all and not join either bloc in the Cold War years. It was this policy which afforded both Washington and Moscow the opportunity to work for the development of Afghanistan at the time.

During my own time in office, under difficult circumstances when there was heavy US and NATO presence in Afghanistan, my government promoted and implemented a policy of friendship and partnership with major world powers, the region and neighbours. This brought us considerable stability, benefits and reconstruction assistance. In this regard we are thankful to Russia for reciprocating and for the assistance given to the Afghan people towards the education of our youth and the training and equipping of our security forces. The people of Afghanistan urgently want the country to be a place of cooperation and in friendly and close relations with all neighbours and the region more broadly.

Thank you, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

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