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Translation of the transcript of President Ghani’s speech on ANSDF and announcement of continued support of the international partners

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

 Respected Minister of Interior, officers, students of army, police, and national security,  brothers and sisters, peace and greetings of Allah be upon you!

1752Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces (ANSDF) are the main pillars of stability in the country; they are like a strong buttress and shield against the events that threaten the country on daily basis. Your countrymen, like myself, feel secure, safe and proud when they see you young men in military uniform. Those who have seen difficult days in the country are well aware of the worth and importance of the dedicated soldiers and brave officers of ANSDF.

This awareness comes as a result of  direct historical experiences of our nation over the last few decades. I have heard bitter memories from thousands of women and men from different parts of our beloved country who had to live in a state of fear and uncertainty; the days when our people, following the decline in values of the armed forces, who in order to serve an ideology or the government, targeted their own people and were far removed from being national.

Or in the absence of government structures, especially army, and in the shadows of irresponsible and criminal gunmen, people were being harassed, beaten or killed under this or that pretext while their properties were being looted.

The bitter and dark days of the history of our people when our cities and vineyards were being set on fire and our honorable Hindu countrymen were being forced, against all principles of Islam, to wear clothing of a certain color, and our common people, women and men, old and young, tribal elders and community leaders were being humiliated and beaten in public.

Those days have created common pains in the existence of this nation, pains which have brought together all the oppressed people of this land from south to the north, and east to the west as well as central highlands. This common pain, in my belief, provides a strong foundation for a common history as well as institutions that protect this country.

The past memories, despite their bitterness, are important to draw lessons from and remember. Once I traveled by car to Kabul from Gardez; I won’t tell you much about the fact that the roads were damaged, the bridges were broken, there was no electricity and no uniformed police but young and irresponsible people who collected money by force on the way; I won’t’ tell you much on this; I will tell you another bitter thing; I saw an officer who had served in late Daud Khan’s government; he used to be a colonel; I recognized him. He had spread a piece of cloth on the side of the road; he was selling his home appliances and right there I saw the equipment of an (army) division and God knows where it was being taken to be sold; tanks that had been scrapped into pieces and loaded on vehicles to be sent outside this country; I accept that some wretched circles hope to bring back those days, God not willing, to scrap office equipment and weaponry and ruin people again, but this hope of theirs will never be realized. They will take this wish to the grave.

Fifteen years ago, there were no such security forces in Afghanistan that would represent all the nation and all the Afghans would see them as their strength; now thanks to God’s grace, we have a powerful national security force that represents the entire nation of Afghanistan and like our national flag and history stand as the symbol of our unity and solidarity. These forces, all praise be to Allah, are committed to national and Islamic values; upon seeing ANSDF, people in every part of the country get pleased and encouraged, and people see ANSDF as protectors of their lives, property and dignity.

Last Friday, I visited Kunduz where the elders and leaders of that province unanimously demanded an increase in the ANSDF units and continuation of their operation to defend the province.

The question is why the noble elders and people of Kunduz demanded that more security forces in the framework of the ANSDF are deployed to their province and city? Why do we get the same message from different parts of the country? The difference between our brave forces with the coward enemy is that people feel tranquil in the presence of ANSDF; you saw what happened in Kunduz and other places when the enemies and terrorists got a chance to rule there for a short period of time; what did they not do? In less than one week, over thirteen thousand Kunduz families were displaced; Tajikistan closed its border in the face of the people’s rush;);  their relative and temporary victory on the battlefield against the brave and noble conduct of our soldiers who fought heroically and after retaking the city treated the enemy fairly and nobly. International institutions including the United Nations commended the conduct of ANSDF saying that they have treated people well. Now that Kunduz is again under the control of ANSDF, over 9,000 displaced families have already returned and this process is ongoing. Soon all the people will return inshallah.

This is our difference from the enemies of our people. Fighting bravely and passionately for a great cause is our pride as well as the gallantry and moderate character and nature of our chivalrous soldiers.

Since our noble people, especially the soldiers and officers of our ANSDF, have in their veins the proud blood and characters of our brave ancestors like Mahmud Ghaznavi, Abu Muslim Khurassani, Ahmad Shah Baba and thousands of other anonymous freedom fighters from every tribe of this country- the heroes whom others have named their weapons after to frighten their enemies, but we have their spirit and morale with us.

Dear sons and daughters of the country!

Fifteen years ago we inherited a country where all the institutions had collapsed; the national flag was flying nowhere; we started from zero and laid the foundation for our ANSDF out of the dust and ashes of ruins of war thanks to the efforts of the brave youth of the country.  Formation of ANSDF was not an easy task; it required selflessness and magnanimity by different political and social groups; it required commitment and dedication of people and at the same time there was need for international trust and confidence to extend to Afghanistan financial, technical and military assistance.

We are not the only country in need of global assistance. When Japan and Germany needed help after the war, they were helped and since they had strong institutions they could take maximum advantage of the opportunities; but South Korea, which had also been severely affected by the war,  despite having similar problems like ours, with the support of international community and a strong resolve, could in less than three decades open a way for itself in the first row of developed and civilized nations of the world, and it managed not only to maintain its independence and integrity with dignity, but also have its contributions to the development of the world strongly and proudly.

If the leaders of these countries followed their narrow short-term personal interests, not only would have they failed to deliver relief and prosperity to their citizens, but also, with all likelihood, they would have lost their own independence and national sovereignty. We, too, can struggle against the remaining odds with dedication, selflessness and commitment of our elders and support of our people, and make decisions with an eye to the long-term and best interests of our future generations wisely and thoughtfully, not sentimentally, and stand proud before God and history.

That is why we thank and welcome the historic decision by President Obama and our other international partners like Germany, England, Japan and others to continue the technical and military assistance in the framework of the bilateral security and strategic partnership agreements, whose foundation had been laid by the decision of our people in 1392 consultative Loya Jirga.  This decision has been the result of direct consultations with civilian and military authorities under the leadership of the National Unity Government and my continued consultation with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the vice presidents, Mr. Dostum and Mr. Danishi, and other political and Jihadi leaders of the country, the cabinet, civil society, Ulema and academic institutions of the country, and based on the following two reasons:

First: our soldiers and people showed in the current difficult year that they bravely and selflessly defend their country and their achievements, and proved that they fill the gap of resources with a high spirit of patriotism and excellent morale and faith. Passing this test, the world was forced to recognize and admit the capabilities of ANSDF and continue their cooperation and support as an equal partner and ally. As the Commander in Chief, I thank each and every one of ANSDF.

Second: Our mission with the world in the war against terrorism and in ensuring stability and security in Afghanistan, is a joint mission for global peace and security. Mutual needs have placed us in a joint and equal mission.

 

In the region too, with the exception of Pakistan that is in an undeclared war with us, we have managed to establish a general consensus that a stable Afghanistan can bring about regional stability and prosperity. To complete this consensus, we have reiterated that the basis of our relations with our Southern neighbor, Pakistan, be ensuring and strengthening peace and joint struggle against the malicious phenomenon of terrorism. Afghanistan will never sacrifice its freedom.

Continued international cooperation and regional consensus present a historic opportunity for us. Now it is for us to take maximum advantage of this opportunity to stand on our feet and next to the civilized and stable nations of the world; though in some cases, this opportunity was not utilized well in the past. Our people, besides their bravery and courage, are respectful and grateful people. They warmly and sincerely press the hands stretched in friendship and also there have many hands that have been extended for meddling and hostility; our people have cut those hands; history is certainly witness.

I would like to call on the people of Afghanistan, especially, the political figures, Ulema, members of parliament, media and the civil society, to turn support for ANSDF into the main axis of their views, initiatives and activities, and let the war be managed by our brave forces, and comprehensively support their role and significance.

Fortunately, one of the major hopes of our people is that institutions get built so that we can stand on our own feet and this is one of the preliminary findings of the fact-finding commission from Kunduz; people in Kunduz say; we don’t want food, we would rather have systems and security by way of the government. Moreover, my personal experience during transfer of security responsibility to ANSDF provides a clear example in this regard. We have decided to rely on ourselves and leave the responsibility for defending the country to our young soldiers and competent officers. As the person in charge of the process of transferring security responsibility to ANSDF, I made several trips to different provinces of the country where I met thousands of our soldiers and officers of ANSDF. During these visits, I found our ANSDF fully confident and determined – such confidence and determination that the soldiers of a great nation should have. I saw this with my own eyes in Afghanistan’s National Army.

During transfer of security, there was a soldier in Bamyan province who once told me: I have been injured three times; but even if I get injuries ten more times, I will still protect my country.

Also, I never forget that the women who had lost two of their sons in defense of the country, one in Badakhshan and another with the same situation in Paktya but who still sent their third son to join the National Army. When I spoke with her, she said: Our young men have inherited the love for Allah, country and land from their fathers; and we will keep our flag flying high.

My vision is that want our ANSDF is a force in which all Afghans see themselves and is inclusive of all Afghanistan, as well as the basis for national unity and stability in the country and protector of territorial integrity and dignity of the pound people of Afghanistan.  Our security forces should be apolitical, unaffiliated with any political parties, and carry a national and Islamic spirit wherein each village, area, district and province of the country is represented in their composition. It should be an experienced and professional as well as a force for stability in the region and peace of mind for our people. The people of Afghanistan have given the responsibility for protection of their honor to you.

To achieve this great goal, the government has taken significant steps. Your efforts towards learning and education as our young generation, who have experienced the worst times of this country, bring us closer to this goal.

We say it clearly that the people and government of Afghanistan are not aggressive or warmongers; we do not want bloodshed; we do not want anyone to be widowed or orphaned nor do we want our houses, villages and cities destroyed. We all know that war is not the solution that is why I have always kept the door of peace and negotiations open to those Afghans who want to lay down their weapons and respect the constitution as well as the achievements of the past decade. I call on all scholars, Ulema, civil society, business community to put in efforts to bring last peace. Peace is a national process; we will never be divided by force but should realize the price of war. This war has been imposed on us; Afghans will not surrender in an imposed war; but we can attain a conclusion through inter-Afghan talks on the negotiating table. It is important that we start the inter-Afghan talks and see it as a national process, not just governmental, that would have specific and comprehensive achievements.

But, this is our duty and right to defend our people, and we will not allow any insurgents or rebels, whatever names and titles they carry – Talib, Daesh or other name- to kill our people, destroy our bridges, culverts and roads and close down schools. We can no longer tolerate killing of our girls because they love their people and country like Torpaykai who was martyred in Kandahar, or the massacre of our families in Kunduz by brutal murderers. We defend our land and people based on Allah’s injunctions; our brave ANSDF are prepared to give any sacrifice to this end. I am fully confident that, like your predecessors, you will become strong defenders of this nation and country.

In the several meetings that I have had with our heroes, the soldiers and officers of National Army, National Police, and National Directorate of Security who have lost their limbs in defense of their countrymen, I have heard from them, and have seen determination and resolve, that they do not regret that they have lost their hands or legs and that they are ready for every kind of sacrifice for their country and people.

The Ministry of Interior was with me when we visit over 60 soldiers in the National Police hospital and each one of them said that they are soldiers of this country and that they will give sacrifices a thousand times for every inch of this country.

The sacrifices and selflessness of our courageous security forces like Nazir Khan assures me that, in spite of continued attacks on our villages and cities and despite the major challenges ahead of us in defending the country, our success in defending the country is inevitable. We will still be facing challenges of like in Ghormach, Musa Qala and Kunduz for some time, but as long as we as a nation respect and appreciate the sacrifices of our ANSDF and act in an environment of trust and harmony, success will be that of our people’s.

Harmony, in political arena in particular is one of the prerequisites to this success. As a great nation believing in tolerance and pluralism, we can openly manage and resolve the perspective, team or group differences openly, reasonably and wisely.  As the Prophet (PBUH) says, such differences are the source of mercy; of course as long as these difference are based on principles, peaceful and legitimate. We may have enough time for political and social discussions, but we do not have the opportunity to neglect defense of the country nor can we afford to miss or delay that. We should invest whatever we have in defending and serving Afghanistan. Our enemies should know that we will never surrender to force.

Our soldiers triumph on the battle ground when they have the support and assurance from our officials and the political leaders. We have to endeavor to establish trust, national unity, patience and tolerance, and I would like to invite all to reach this supreme goal.

Our brave men like Umranuddin who was martyred in Kunduz, Muradgul in Ningarhar, and Enayataullah who lost their lives in defense of the country, people and religion are prides of Afghanistan’s history. As one nation, we are obliged to remain loyal to their ideals of building a free, prosperous and stable Afghanistan and consider defending our beloved country our national, Islamic and Afghan obligation. Long live Afghanistan!