Ambassador Khalilzad: "Post-election Afghanistan and Peacebuilding Support"

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Special Presidential Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad
Remarks to the Japan Institute of International Affairs Symposium

Hotel Okura, Tokyo, Japan
March 2, 2005
As delivered

Ambassador Satoh (JIIA President), Mrs. Ogata, Mr. Miyakawa, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for your invitation to speak today. I am grateful to the JIIA for gathering such a distinguished group to examine our shared accomplishments, challenges and goals in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Today, Afghanistan is a spectacular success story. This success is due to two factors: 1) the international community's support provided the opportunity; and 2) the people of Afghanistan took advantage of that opportunity. From the status of a "failed state", Afghanistan is now on its way to becoming a normal state. Much remains to be done, however.

Afghanistan is no longer the playground of international terrorists and extremists. Afghanistan is becoming a moderate democracy, and its government represents the will of the Afghan people. The security situation is improving, and the country is experiencing significant economic growth. At the same time, a vigorous civil society is emerging that respects the rights of all citizens, including women and minorities.

Afghanistan's success is significant not only for the Afghan people, to the broader region of Central, South, and Southwest Asia, but also for the international community as a whole. The challenge to our time is terrorism and extremism. A stable, democratic, and flourishing Afghanistan will serve as a model, and as a setback for extremists. It will also help encourage and facilitate regional trade and economic cooperation - creating new opportunities for increased economic prosperity for the people of this area of the world.

When we think of Afghanistan, we must therefore think not only of the country in and of itself, but also in terms of Afghanistan's broader regional potential, a topic to which I will return later.

I will list only a few of Afghanistan's many recent achievements:

  • The promulgation of one of the most enlightened constitutions in the Muslim world.
  • The registration of over 10 million voters for last year's presidential election.
  • The election itself, in which over 8 million Afghans - more than 40 percent of them women - chose the first democratically-elected president in the country's history. Afghanistan now has a legitimate government. It has the mandate to move forward on key issues on the national agenda.
  • Five million boys and girls are now attending school.
  • Millions of children have been vaccinated against disease.
  • Millions of books have been distributed around the country.
  • Infrastructure is being rebuilt. I would like to make particular note of Japan's contribution to the Kabul-Kandahar Highway. Japan has been one of Afghanistan's most generous and reliable donors.

Great challenges remain before us. It is too soon to declare victory. The Afghan people fear abandonment, and to ensure success, the international community must remain committed to Afghanistan for the long term. The U.S. has that commitment: We have learned from our past mistakes, and will not repeat them.

In the immediate future, our focus should include:

1) Parliamentary election

Preparations are on track for holding parliamentary elections later this year. Donor support helped to make last year's election such a success, and I urge all donors to continue this momentum with generous contributions to the parliamentary election. Together, we must help the Afghan people fulfill their democratic destiny and complete the political transition envisaged by the Bonn agreement three years ago.

We are mindful that elections are not synonymous with democracy. A vibrant civil society is required for democracy to take root and flourish. In addition to elections, building civil society entails developing a free press, moderate and democratic political parties, and NGOs and think tanks. The active participation of women in public life is not an abstract goal imported from the West. It is an imperative in any democracy, and is at the center of our strategy for building Afghan civil society. Continuing support for democratizing Afghanistan will be important in the coming year.

2) DDR

The security situation has improved, and the number of violent attacks has declined over the past year. The Taliban has been weakened, and the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of militia forces is progressing well. The militias were the infrastructure of a future civil war. I would like to compliment Japan, which has played a very constructive and productive role as lead nation on DDR. 40,000 militia members have been civilianized, and the formal DDR process is slated for completion in June. In addition, 95% percent of Afghanistan's heavy weapons have been cantoned.

Disarming informal militia forces is our next great challenge, and I hope Japan will be willing to play the leadership role in this critical area, as well. Japan can count on our full support as we evaluate the scope of the informal militia problem and the appropriate strategies needed for its resolution.

3) ANA

As lead nation for ANA reform, the U.S. will continue to press for the development of a professional Afghan National Army. The ANA has grown from 5,000 troops in late 2003 to over 23,000 today. We are accelerating the creation of six kandaks, up from the current five. We have reformed the Ministry of Defense. The ANA is an effective force - and can help deal Afghanistan's many challenges. That capability will grow.

4) Police

Based in part on experience with the ANA, there must be the same kind of institutional reform and training assistance to make the police more effective. Germany has done a good job on the responsibilities it has accepted, but other donors also need to focus on this issue. Much remains to be done, including institutional reform of the Interior Ministry, expansion of logistics, training, and embedded experts programs, and increased training of police forces, including border police. The U.S. Administration is proposing to spend $600 million on police training this year, and we will continue to engage in a close dialogue with our partners in setting priorities on police training and reform.

5) Justice sector

Reform of the justice sector needs to be accelerated. This includes increased effort in the areas of training judges, prosecutors, and marshals, as well as new laws, building courts and prisons, etc.

6) PRTs

I would like to focus on the unique development role played by the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), many of which are led successfully by our international partners, including the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and, soon, Italy and Lithuania. The nineteen PRTs are pioneering a new model in facilitating security, development, and reconstruction across Afghanistan. The changing Afghan security and development environment will, however, prompt a re-evaluation of how the PRTs can best do their work. Will they become more civilian and less military, or perhaps transform themselves into Afghan-led regional development commissions? The PRTs should be adaptable, and we need to be creative in exploring options for their evolution. I hope that Japan will consider establishing a PRT of its own or participating with another nation in an existing PRT.

7) Post-Bonn

The parliamentary elections will culminate the Bonn process. For the post-Bonn political agenda, the international community must determine how best to recognize Afghanistan's achievements and sovereign status, while at the same time acknowledging the tasks that remain in order to attain complete success. The post-Bonn agenda must create a framework through which the international community can continue to engage in Afghanistan. This framework, of course, will be informed by the successes that have been achieved, and by the problems that remain to be addressed.

8) Economic reconstruction

There are several priorities for economic reconstruction. We need to pursue an integrated approach. We have already concentrated on roads and other basic infrastructure; we must now also turn our attention to the water management needed for the agricultural sector to flourish, and to increasing the level of power generation. Only 6 percent of Afghans have access to electricity.

These processes must go hand-in-hand with efforts to increase domestic capacity through education and institutional development. Anyone who visits Afghanistan is impressed by the innate drive and strong work ethic of the Afghan people. They are ready to work and eager to succeed. Our job is to foster the conditions for their success, and then for an entrepreneurial economy to flourish.

9) Regional development

Afghanis recognize the reconstruction challenges I have outlined, and are examining ways to address this challenge in a regional context. Before the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan was among the worldfs least developed countries. Even with a substantial head start in infrastructure and development, it took Europe over a decade to recover from World War II. In Afghanistan, development must be accelerated in support of our overall goals for security and democracy.

To succeed in this ambitious development task, Afghanistan wants to regain its traditional role as the transport and economic hub of Central Asia. This is an opportunity for Afghanistan. Before much of Central Asia was incorporated into Russia and the Soviet Union, the region had numerous economic ties to the south. Since the dissolution of the Soviet empire, instability in Afghanistan has retarded the natural resumption of these historic commercial links. The emergence of stable, democratic Afghanistan will allow the country to take its rightful place as a land bridge linking Central and South Asia and the Middle East.

In the past, regional economic integration was also affected by the Indo-Pakistani tensions. As those tensions appear to ease, Afghanistan may gain increasing access to a Central and South Asian economy of over $4 trillion, paced by the rapid growth of India. Our approach to Afghanistan's reconstruction must keep this regional dimension in mind by encouraging customs harmonization, infrastructure projects linking the region, and other reforms encouraging trade and development.

10) Counter-narcotics

In addition to these many positive trends, there is the issue of drugs. The flourishing illegal drug trade threatens to turn Afghanistan into a narco-state and undermine all of the progress we have worked so hard to achieve. Last December, President Karzai made an impassioned plea for Afghans to reject the illegal drug trade. Although reports are subject to verification, there is encouraging anecdotal evidence that Afghan farmers are exercising restraint in planting poppies and are engaging in voluntary eradication.

Working closely with lead nation Britain, the U.S. counter-narcotics strategy has five main elements: 1) public information; 2) interdiction; 3) law enforcement and judicial reform; 4) crop eradication; and 5) alternative livelihoods. This last element is especially important, as we have a relatively short window in which to give Afghan farmers a viable alternative to poppy production. In 2005, the U.S. plans to provide over $700 million for counter-narcotics programs, including over $200 million for alternative livelihoods support. Last year, the Afghan people surprised the world by organizing a historic presidential election. This year, they may surprise us again with their commitment to end the scourge of illegal drugs. No issue is more important in attaining our vision of the new Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has achieved a tremendous amount. But much remains to be done to consolidate the transformation of Afghanistan into a successful country. Our progress thus far, however, brings with it the risk of complacency. We cannot assume that Afghanistan will continue on its current positive trajectory, regardless of what we do. Our current success is based on the hard work and sacrifice of the international community and, above all, the Afghan government and people.

The United States will remain committed for as long as it takes to succeed in establishing a secure, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan. The U.S. is contributing substantial resources to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. If approved by Congress, our $1.2 billion existing budgetary allocation for Afghanistan will receive a $3.6 billion supplement, doubling our total level of assistance from last year.

Now is the time for recognizing the successes we have had to date. But it is also time to adopt goals and plans and commit the resources necessary to tackle the remaining challenges with a fresh sense of purpose and vigor. Together with the Afghan people and our friends in the international community, I am confident that we can meet these challenges. It is in our interest. And it is the right thing to do.

Japan has played an important role in our successes thus far, and has engaged in a true partnership with the U.S., the Afghans, and the rest of the international community. Together, we have given the Afghan people the opportunity to rebuild their country, and they have risen to the occasion. We now need to invest in our success, and accelerate our progress on the key challenges that remain, including security sector reform, counter-narcotics, and political and economic development and regional cooperation. Now is not the time to reduce to divert our efforts - the U.S. remains willing to do its part. Japan and the other international donors must do theirs, and I am confident that they will.

Thank you very much.