|President Hamid Karzai’s Statement in the 13th Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
13 September, 2013
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
His Excellency President Almazbek Atambayev,
Distinguished Heads of States and Governments,
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to be with you for this important Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. May I express my sincere gratitude to President Almazbek Atambayev, the Government and people of Kyrgyz Republic for graciously hosting this important forum.
I also take this opportunity to thank our Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev, for his tireless efforts.
Afghanistan of 2013 is not the Afghanistan of 2001, when we had just risen from the rubble of war and turmoil.
In the last twelve years, we have created sufficient political, economic and social forces that will serve as a bulwark against the return of Afghanistan to the miseries of the past. We have taken bold steps in reasserting our sovereignty in the community of nations. Today we have established institutions that have enabled us to take charge of our own destiny. Three months ago, we marked an important milestone in assuming full security responsibility across the country from NATO and ISAF forces present in our country.
However, as we celebrate the achievements of the past decade and the rise of a sovereign Afghanistan, we must not overlook the grave challenges that can undermine our progress.
More than twelve years into the war against terrorism, this menace still remains a serious threat, with extremism and radicalism on the rise. Spreading across societies in the region, the menace, as we all know, has dire consequences not just for the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan but also for the security of the region and the world as a whole.
Afghanistan remains at the forefront of the battle against terrorism. Terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda, groups allied to it have sanctuaries beyond the Afghan borders. Afghanistan also serves as a bulwark against other terrorist groups and I like to mention so we remember what we are confronting. These terrorist groups that we are confronting in Afghanistan are the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) a terrorist organization, in addition to the Taliban, the Punjabi Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, an assortment of terrorist, extremist radical groups are not only threatening Afghanistan but trying to use Afghanistan as a passage to other countries, the Chechen terrorist groups as well. Therefore the Afghan people continue to suffer in their hands on a daily basis and pay a hefty price in defending Afghanistan and our neighbors.
Terrorism and the growing radicalism can only be defeated if there is sincere cooperation in the region especially between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan has engaged extensively with our brothers in Pakistan in the past 12 years and will continue to do so in the future. Success also depends on dedicated support from all the countries present around this table today.
Our region must not expect that NATO or ISAF or the United States will deliver us from all the challenges that we face here today. We must recognize that fighting terrorism and radicalism in our region is primarily our responsibility-the responsibility of this region, which necessitates joint and sincere cooperation.
Illicit drugs and narcotics is another challenge threatening us together. We are convinced that tackling this destructive menace requires a comprehensive approach at all levels with greater focus on reducing demand, control of precursors, blockade of passage for drug trafficking, and providing alternative livelihoods.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We must understand that many countries in the region are concerned about what may befall us after the drawdown of international security forces in 2014. They are concerned with some reasons about the spillover effect of continued violence and instability and the spread of terrorism and radicalism into the broader region.
After twelve years of progress, Excellencies, the Afghan people know too well the price of regress or failure. As Afghanistan stands independently on its own feet, surely there will be hardships. But let me assure you that we will be resolute in our journey towards peace and prosperity. I sincerely hope that the SCO Member States will accompany us in this journey and will cooperate with Afghanistan as we move towards and beyond 2014.
Next year, Afghanistan will have presidential and provincial council elections. We believe that the success of these elections will not only entrench our gains of the past twelve years but would also allow the country to smoothly transition into the transformation decade.
While safeguarding our achievements, we will continue to extend a hand of reconciliation and peace to the Taliban currently engaged in armed opposition against us.
We acknowledge the important role that our brotherly, neighborly country of Pakistan plays in this process and we are hopeful that the new government under the leadership of His Excellency Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will play a constructive role in this regard and we hope that will happen.
Similarly, we are looking forward to close cooperation with all countries with whom we have signed partnership agreements. No partnership that we have forged will be a source of threat to our neighbors or any other country and Afghanistan will not allow that.
We will continue to be a catalyst for advancing regional integration through promoting economic cooperation initiatives and regional infrastructure projects. And we will continue to spearhead the Heart of Asia process in order to contribute to peace and security in Afghanistan and the region by enhancing trust and understanding among us.
The vision that we have for Afghanistan is not just to have a better, safer and more prosperous future for Afghanistan, but to also be a friendly, constructive and dependable partner for this region and our neighboring countries. Without the region’s goodwill, support and contributions, Afghanistan would not have made the gains of the past decade.
We know that, while our friends may come from all corners of the world, our true security and prosperity fundamentally depend on the region that surrounds us. Therefore, we are committed to further strengthening our relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and to work constructively with all the Member States towards a common vision for peace, security and prosperity.
Needless to say, the unity and security of Afghanistan is an important factor of unity and security for all countries in this region. So the stakes are high and the benefits are mutual. I, once again, call upon all our friends present here today to cooperate with Afghanistan in the interest of our region as we continue to sustain and build upon our gains and contribute to our common peace and security. I, also once again, emphasize Afghanistan’s commitment to the SCO and wish our brother in Tajikistan President Imam Ali Rahman well for his next lead.