Remarks By H.E. Shaida Mohammad Abdali

at SAARC Seminar,

26-27 September

 

 

Excellencies,

Distinguished Participants and Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here amongst our friends to discuss an issue of tremendous importance for all of us.  And I would like to take the opportunity to thank the SAARC secretariat and the government of India for convening this important session.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Energy shortage in our region remains unsolved and is gradually becoming a burning issue for all of us. While the fast-paced globalization era requires more and more energy, this region still lags behind due to the shortage of this basic, nevertheless vital necessity.

Large segments of the regional countries’ populations suffer from the lack of access to power.

Energy as the vehicle to the aspiration of global village runs short to connect the economies of the region.  Regional integration remains a dream.

India and Pakistan dominate about 93 percent of the generation capacity in south Asia.  However, India is capable of providing access to power for only about half of its population with Pakistan just above half of the country’s population.

If I take my own country as another example, Afghanistan’s need for electricity is 5000 MW, the power generation capacity of the country is only 152MW.   With 830 MW that Afghanistan imports it can cater for the need of only 40% of the country’s population.  The rural inhabitants of our counties remain deprived of this essential utility, while their contribution to the socio-economic development of the region can be significant.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We recognize the fact that we live in a region that has vast potential for development.  Central Asia’s economy, which largely depends on the region’s energy resources, faces slow growth.

Studies suggest that creating market efficiency and a competitive energy sector in Central Asia largely remains a legislative issue resulting in limited room for growth and confining the growth to the national borders.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What we must recognize as the causes of this shortage are instability and conflicts in the region which have been greatly contributory to the shortage we experience today.

Afghanistan once known as the hub of the Silk Route, played a significant role in connecting the economies of the region and beyond.

The 30 years of destruction not only severely damaged the infrastructures in place but also led to a missing linkage in the region which Afghanistan could address and serve as to the best of its potential.

As Afghanistan left the dark era of the Taliban regime behind and resumed its journey toward achieving stability and sustainable economic growth, the interim administration of the country took the strongest possible steps to lay the foundation for regional cooperation.

The Kabul Good Neighbourly Relations conference in 2002 is a testimony of Afghanistan’s will for and commitment to restoring confidence in the region and serving as a bridge between the energy rich central Asia and energy deficit south Asia.

We have been pursuing the objectives at all regional and international fora. The quadrilateral project of CASA 1000 while moving at a slow pace, due to the reasons some of which I covered earlier, is the product of the regional cooperation.

In line with our cross-cutting theme of regional cooperation in the area of energy connectivity, Afghanistan’s bilateral power cooperation includes the North East Power System (NEPS), interconnecting Afghanistan with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  The transmission system already in place connects the northern part of Afghanistan with the country’s capital Kabul.

Our bilateral cooperation in the area also includes power supply by Iran and Turkmenistan covering Afghanistan’s western province of Herat and some northwestern parts of the country.

Serving as a land-bridge we are desirous of extending these transmission lines across to South Asia.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan and the south Asian countries run short on this essential utility while the surveys conducted show that Afghanistan’s potential for hydropower is twenty three thousand (23000) MW.

This means Afghanistan is not only capable of serving as a bridge but also potentially as source of energy which meets the need of the region.

While environmental issues become a source of global concern the findings of the studies in Afghanistan suggest that the country has a high potential of renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal.   For the potentials to be utilized by the countries in the region there is need for concerted regional effort.

To touch on the topic of the two day seminar, namely the role of private sector in energy security: The government of Afghanistan has encouraged and created the environment for private investments in all sectors.

Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) is an independent and autonomous company which was established on May 4th 2008 under The Corporations and Limited Liabilities Law of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  I am pleased to inform you ladies and gentlemen that Mr. Razique Samadi, the Chief Executive Officer of the company is here with us, who will brief us on the activities of the company, generation capacity of the country and future projects in the sector.

In short, DABS operates and manages electric power generation, import, transmission, and distribution throughout Afghanistan on a commercial basis.

To conclude my remarks, I would like to reiterate that Afghanistan stands ready to utilize its potentials both in geography and resources to the benefit of our region.  Afghanistan is ready to sustain and serve as an energy pool within the SAARC framework and cooperate with the region in utilizing the untapped energy potentials.  To secure the future of our young generation let us work closely to secure energy in our region.

 

Thank You

 

REMARKS BY

THE AMBASSADOR OF AFGHANISTAN TO INDIA

H.E. SHAIDA M. ABDALI

AT

2013 GREEN CARPET PREMIERE “FRONTIER GANDHI

 

 

 

 

LEH-INDIA

SEPTEMBER 14, 2013

 

 

Mr. Anand Sahay,

Ms. Teri McLuhan,

Mr. Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

First of all, please allow me to extend my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this magnificent event, and for graciously inviting me to be a part of this unforgettable experience. I too wish to thank Ms. Teri McLuhan for putting so much dedicated effort into producing what has been an overdue documentary on “The Frontier Gandhi: Padshah Khan, a Torch for Peace.” I look forward with profound enthusiasm to viewing the documentary, and to learning from the lifetime achievements of a great man in the history of Afghanistan and the Subcontinent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

“A Torch for Peace” captures the essence of what Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan shared with the non-violence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi against colonial oppression, as well as all forms of ethno-sectarian prejudice. His moral struggle for furthering the cause of peace and co-existence transcended the man-made boundaries of nationality, race, religion, ethnicity, culture, or language. He saw these boundaries more as a bridge that should cement the human kind together towards pursuit of unity, peace, and prosperity for all.

As you know, Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan and Mahatma Gandhi lived and led by example, as did Prophet Mohammed (PBU), who promoted religious tolerance and social justice against all forms of extremism that undermined the universality of values that distinguish humans as the rational and logical creation of the Almighty from the rest of his creation devoid of such endowments. And in this selfless struggle for the good of all humans of his time and region, “the Frontier Gandhi” made many sacrifices, which the documentary amply illustrates.

However, he was not alone in his dedicated endeavors. He had acquired the grassroots support, commanding a large, dedicated following of people across ethno-sectarian and gender landscape, who stood by Padshah Khan, as he spread the message of his non-violent struggle for freedom from fear, freedom from exploitation, and freedom from colonization and subjugation. His message was so powerful that it resonated well with other visionary, selfless leaders of his time, especially Mahatma Gandhi, who not only endorsed the non-violent call of Padshah Khan for peace and co-existence but morally supported him.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The legacy of Padshah Khan remains instructive, as the countries of our region strive to address the challenges confronting our nations. Despite separation of our nations by artificial boundaries, the common problems facing us as humankind increasingly render man-made constructs irrelevant and obsolete. Indeed, the changing trends of our global village require the governments in our region to operate well above their narrowly defined interests.

Of course, what happens in Afghanistan affects people in Pakistan and affects people in India alike, and vice versa. We see this pattern in the problems of extremism and terrorism that commonly destabilize each of our three countries and thereby the whole region. In turn, regional instability harms the common interests of our three nations, however, each separately seeking security, peace and prosperity, which they cannot attain on their own.

To address this dilemma, we must look back into the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and the “Frontier Gandhi” for timeless guidance and inspiration. And this documentary helps remind us of how the leaders of today must work hand in hand to address the many challenges of our time and of our region, including radicalism, sectarianism, and prejudice that fuel instability everywhere.

Thank you.

Remarks

By

HE Shaida M. Abdali

Ambassador of Afghanistan to India

 

“2014: Way Ahead for India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan”

 

 

South Asian Free Media Association-India Chapter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Delhi, July 23, 2013

 

Excellencies,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

First of all, I would like to thank the South Asian Free Media Association-India Chapter for organizing today’s timely seminar on a topic of great importance to all three countries, and to South Asia as a whole. Indeed, this is a prime example of the seminal role free media can and should play to promote substantive and results-oriented dialogue among key stakeholders in maintaining regional security, stability, and prosperity. And no countries other than Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan share a greater common interest in sincerely cooperating with one another to bolster and uphold peace in our region. This Seminar can further advance the consensus among our three countries that stability and prosperity in one country directly contribute to those of the other two and vice versa.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We are fast approaching 2014, a pivotal year for Afghanistan and the region as a whole. Although physical transition is taking place in my country, it will have regional implications. And those implications entail both challenges and opportunities, which call for sincere, results-oriented cooperation throughout the region, particularly among our three countries. The one challenge that worries us all is how to work together to ensure regional stability, following the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. If we begin addressing this challenge now, we should be able to benefit from the many opportunities that would naturally flow from a stable Afghanistan in the post 2014 period.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The new democratically elected government of Pakistan under the visionary leadership of HE Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken initial, bold steps towards honest cooperation with Afghanistan and India. The Afghan people and government welcome with great optimism the Prime Minister’s call for a new policy that sees the end of interference in the Afghan affairs now and beyond 2014.

 

To that end, this past Sunday, HE Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, visited Kabul, and delivered an invitation from HE Prime Minister Sharif to HE President Hamid Karzai to visit Pakistan. The President accepted the invitation “in principle,” however, asked that a substantive agenda with specific objectives on supporting the peace process and effectively fighting terrorism be prepared, before the visit could take place.

 

HE Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rasool also met with HE Aziz and expressed our hope to make considerable progress with the new government of Pakistan in all areas, including in the fight against terrorism and extremism and the networks and systems supporting them. HE Aziz offered to use his country’s influence and contacts with the Taliban, in support of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. This is a welcome offer of assistance, which Afghanistan had been seeking. The two sides also      emphasized the importance of expanding transit trade, a following a meeting of the Coordinating Authority to address issues related to the Afghanistan and Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA).

 

Indeed, achieving substantive results in the above areas of mutual concern and interest will directly contribute to HE Prime Minister Sharif’s other objectives. A peaceful, stable Afghanistan will create markets for Pakistani products and skilled labor, while allowing energy pipelines, such as the TAPI pipeline, to be built across Afghanistan, providing Pakistan and India with energy to fuel their booming economies. And the many cross-country investments towards regional economic cooperation will raise the stature of Pakistan with the international community. When this happens, the image of Pakistan will globally improve away from frequent association of the country with negative perceptions.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We too welcome HE Prime Minister Sharif’s commitment to reviving the Composite Dialogue with India. The two countries have vast human and economic potential, which can and should be unlocked to benefit their respective nations, as well as the rest of the region. Both countries realize that making substantive progress towards normalization of bilateral relations with a focus on economic cooperation will go a long way in ensuring regional stability and prosperity.

 

The Afghan government and people have consistently called for good neighborly relations. From decades of imposed war and destruction, we know that the pursuit of zero-sum designs would help no nation in our region, except creating further mistrust and suspicion that often lead to conflict, misery, and human suffering that have beset our region for too long.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Many countries led by the United States have made vital contributions towards institutionalization of peace, democracy, and freedom in Afghanistan. They have lost thousands of their military forces and hundreds of their civilian workers in order to maintain international peace and security, which was compromised on 9/11. Twelve years on, with continued international aid, the Afghan people have made significant progress towards their aspiration for a peaceful, democratic, and self-reliant country free from the dark forces of extremism and terrorism.

 

Let me assure you against the 2014 myth of Afghanistan falling apart after the withdrawal of NATO forces from our country. On June 18th, we took over from NATO the complete leadership and ownership of all military operations across Afghanistan. The Afghan people have welcomed this last phase of security transition, with a positive impact on security conditions in all areas which have come under the protection of the Afghan forces.

 

We welcome the appropriate role, which NATO has adopted: to train, advise, and equip our strong 350,000 force, ready and willing to defend our country against any state-or non-state aggression. As the press frequently reports, our forces daily frustrate the enemy’s complex terrorist attacks on civilians in Afghanistan.

 

Parallel to the security transition, the Afghan government is striving to ensure the success of our democratic political transition process through implementation of a legitimate presidential election next year on April 5, 2014. This past week, HE President Karzai signed into major law electoral reforms on the structure and appointments of the Independent Election Commission to dispel any concerns about fairness of the electoral process.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

As I recently said, the implications of winning in Afghanistan through regional cooperation are quite clear: a sovereign Afghanistan at peace internally and at peace with others focused on win-win objectives towards a region where every nation would be secure and prosper through economic cooperation. This is the world in which we live today, a world which is increasingly interdependent and where zero-sum goals have proven a failure and a disaster. Sincere, results-oriented cooperation is the call of our peoples in the region and beyond, and Afghanistan stands ready to do our part for the good of all.

 

In the post 2014 period, we look forward to working with India and Pakistan to deepen regional cooperation towards achievement of our common objectives.  We hope that the new government in Pakistan will soon begin delivering on its new foreign policy objectives to engage constructively with its neighbors. This must begin with a firm recommitment to facilitating the Afghan-led peace process to end the war in Afghanistan, paving the way for meaningful regional economic cooperation.

 

At the same time, we renew our call on the international community to stay the course in Afghanistan. Our gains of the past 12 years should be consolidated through implementation of win-win objectives, which have been outlined in the Bonn, Chicago, and Tokyo Conferences, as well as through regional initiatives such as the Istanbul Process.

 

Thank you.

 

***END***