Ashraf Ghani

Fourth, the enabling legal environment for utilization of our natural wealth—ranging from mining, oil and gas to renewable energy in geothermal, hydro, solar and wind has been created. We are talking not about megawatts but gigawatts of energy. We announced the award of a series of mining contracts on the 8th of July and finalized the process of procurement of over a hundred construction contracts on the 10th of July. 

Fifth, the Islamic Republic as a constitutional system of government and the Afghan National and Defense Forces (ANDSF) have strong public support. Thanks to technology, I have been interacting with governors and defense and security officials across the country on an hourly basis to concentrate our forces and strictly practice economy of effort. I am delighted that recruitment to our all voluntary forces is considerably up.

How are the threats manifesting themselves?

First, while the 3rd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening our lives and a severe drought is threatening our livelihoods, Taliban have unleashed a destructive wave of attacks across the country. Contrary to their commitments to the US to pursue a political solution, they have deployed the over 5,000 prisoners released at the request of the international community by the Loya Jirga as the vanguard of these attacks. Over 50 of the largest drug dealers released at international request provide financial backing for the onslaught. 

Second, destruction of public assets, as manifested by the destruction of over 260 buildings and systematic looting of public assets, mark their trail of destruction. Reliance of car-bombs, massive planting of land mines, assassination campaigns, targeted killing of women and civil society leaders, and summary execution of prisoners of war constitute their arsenal. These practices are forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee to cities and secure provinces. The only choice offered by the Taliban is that of submission and surrender.

Third, intelligence estimates indicate the influx of over ten thousand Jihadi fighters from Pakistan and other places in the past month as well as support from their affiliates in the transnational terrorist organizations. There is a consensus among credible international observers that they have not taken any steps to sever their relationships with terrorist organizations. 

Fourth, contrary to the declarations of their political office that they will not attack cities and provincial centers, they are accelerating their attacks and attempting to starve the cities.

Fifth, contrary to repeated assurances by Prime Minister Khan and his generals that Pakistan does not find a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in Pakistan’s interest and short of use of force will use its power and influence to make the Taliban negotiate seriously, networks and organizations supporting the Taliban are openly celebrating the destruction of the assets and capabilities of the Afghan people and State.

What does this balance sheet imply for the Afghan people and government and our regional partners?

We, the people and government of Afghanistan, are fully focused on the present moment and determined to ensure our existence as a nation and a state. Relying on the will of Allah and based on the deep reservoir of patriotism, we are confident that we can change the challenge to opportunity. Based on the principles of concentration of forces and economy of effort, we are prepared to face the Taliban and their supporters for as long as it takes until they realize that a political solution is the only way forward.

Given the lessons of Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, among others, we wish to preempt descent to the hell of an all-out war. We, therefore, call on the Taliban to engage with the government of Afghanistan to end the war and the destructive recent onslaught. Also we call on Pakistan to use its influence and leverage for peace and cessation of hostilities.

To mark our differences with the Taliban, we will accelerate our reforms in state-building, market-building and peace-building. We are committed to international humanitarian law and will mobilize our national response under the leadership of the ANDSF. And as for as the theme of today’s conference, we will accelerate our efforts on enhancing the consensus on regional connectivity both in terms of hardware and software in relationship and rule of law that is required for accelerating the design and implementation of programs and projects of regional connectivity. 

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