23 September 2003
Terrorism Still a Threat to Afghanistan and South Asia, Karzai
But Afghanistan "stable and peaceful," president
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned on September
23 that terrorism continues to threaten his country and can harm
the region as a whole.
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Karzai said that "terrorists
aim to harm the nation of Afghanistan, a deeply believing Muslim
nation that is averse to extremism. They pose a threat to the
process of reconstruction in Afghanistan. Terrorists see, in
the success of reconstruction, their lasting defeat."
Ranging from cross-border militants to hateful teachings at places
disguised as religious schools, "terrorism continues to make
inroads" into the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan, the president
Terrorism is a liability to the governments in the region as
well, the Afghan leader said.
Governments must stop using extremism as an instrument of policy.
As long as terrorism survives in this part of the world, neither
Afghanistan, nor our neighbors, nor indeed the rest of the world
can be safe," he said.
Islam has "absolutely no place for terrorism," the president
said. "Those apostles of hatred who preach murder in the name
of religion, those who abuse the name of Islam and the sanctity
of madrassas, are the enemies of Islam. They act against all
that Islam teaches -- peace, tolerance, compassion, social justice,
and the good of humanity."
In his second address to the General Assembly, Karzai also reported
that "Afghanistan today is more stable and peaceful than at any
other period in its recent history."
He said that "a lot has changed in Afghanistan over the last
two years. But no change is so critical and pervasive as the
animated response from the people of Afghanistan to the recent
developments in our country."
I find no sight more rewarding than the sight of our young girls
and boys flocking to schools every morning; I find few things
more engaging than the company of elderly representatives who
come to Kabul from far-flung provinces of the country to discuss
their priorities for reconstruction; and, in the same order,
there is nothing more enthusing than the active participation
of Afghan men and women in the process of public consultation
for the new constitution," he said.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has done "a
tremendous job of security the nation's capital," the president
said, adding that that is why other provinces want the multinational
force to be expanded.
The president welcomed NATO's decision to take over the ISAF
command. "No matter what flag they fly, forces that ensure stability
will be welcomed throughout Afghanistan," he said.
The president cited a number of positive developments: the nationwide
disarmament and demobilization program will begin in October;
a draft constitution will be submitted to the national assembly,
the Loya Jirga, in December; political parties and banking laws
have been adopted; there has been a 30 percent economic growth
rate; schools are being built at a higher pace than ever before,
and almost 40 percent of students and teachers are female.
Nevertheless, Karzai said, all the achievements "only amount
to a good beginning."
Our challenge is to stay the course. This depends not only on
the resolute determination of the Afghan people but also on the
continued engagement of the international community," he said.