President Ghani’s speech to the Afghan houses of parliament, as broadcast live on state-owned National Afghanistan TV on 25 April 2016 (translated by BBC Monitoring)
In the name of Almighty Allah, the most compassionate, the most merciful.
[President Ghani begins in Pashto] Your Excellences, [Speakers] Mr Ebrahimi, Mr Moslemyar, [Vice-President] Mr Danesh, Mr Chief Justice, respected Pir [Gilani], Mr Khalili [possibly former vice president], esteemed members of the cabinet, the nations’ representatives, members of the senate, journalists, countrymen! Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatolla-he Wa Barakau [greetings].
[The president switches to Dari] In the past two weeks, our country has gone through some important political and military developments as been the victim of a horrifying terrorist incident. Despite all the efforts made by the people and our government to put an end to the fighting, the rebels of this era, with their foreign supporters, have beaten the drum of battle and insurgency and declared the genocide of our innocent people. But they are not aware that our brave security and defence forces are committed to finding them across the whole country and defending the lives and property of their people by suppressing them. The members of the two esteemed houses of the national council echoed the voice of the government at a meeting at ARG [presidential palace] last week and pledged full political support for the government and national security forces with regards to peace and fighting. Exactly just one day after this consensus, the wicked Taleban committed the most horrifying inhuman crime and left our innocent countrymen killed. I would like to use this opportunity to pray for all the martyred of this land and particularly the victims of the recent terrorist attack and wish a complete recovery for the injured.
Dear countrymen! The incident in Kabul on Tuesday [massive car bomb] is not the first act by the criminals of this group. Their despicable killing of innocent people, their depriving people of freedom, are just part of their long history of slaughter and mercilessness. They enjoy shedding innocent people’s blood and tearing people’s bodies apart. But, regardless of their blood lust, there is a large number of genuine sons of the nation who rushed to the hospitals and donated millions of litres of their blood to their injured countrymen from across the whole country, demonstrating their unity and solidarity and expressing their loathing for this terrorist group. As you know, the world, including the Islamic countries, and especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United Nations, the majority of Asian and European countries, the USA, China, Japan, Australia and Canada have also called this criminal act by terrorists unforgivable.
[President Ghani reverts to Pashto] Sisters and brothers! These criminals are not the seekers of knowledge [literal meaning of “Taleban” is seekers of knowledge]. They are rather rebels and militants who stood against the legitimate government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan [applause]. The real Taleban study in madrasahs. Those who murder people, who are the enemies of education and who destroy mosques have no right to call themselves “Taleban”. Based on the Holy Koran’s explicit instruction, we have the right to defend our people against rebels and militants and to punish them [applause]. This group is led by some of those enemies of our country in Peshawar and Quetta who shed the blood of their countrymen and enjoy destroying the people of Afghanistan. They feel no goodwill towards the people of Afghanistan. They have no respect for the demands and hopes of the people of Afghanistan. In the political arena, they have proved their ignorance and unworthiness. I call upon the religious scholars of Afghanistan to show to these fools and misdirected people what the right direction is.
Esteemed audience! The enemies of our people wanted to force the Afghan government to declare a state of emergency by spreading fear and brutality. But they did not know, and still do not know, that Afghans are not going to join in the unrest soon [applause] The Afghan soul does not accept unrest and we will never impose restrictions on the freedom that the constitution has given to us [applause].
[Dari] Esteemed members of parliament! I have received a list that contains 24 chapters, if I remember correctly. I will refer to part of this list which is of vital importance and I will leave the remaining part for some monthly meetings at the presidential palace in the future.
I have come to parliament today, to the highest tribune of Afghanistan, to share with you and the people that we used all our resources last year to put an end to violence through peaceful manners. We also tried our best to defend our people against the undeclared war and to continue strengthening our defensive and security forces relentlessly. We have also called for a consensus among our international partners that this is not an internal war, but rather a war launched by terrorists and their regional supporters against our country and our people to achieve their unlawful objectives. They will achieve this objective only through barbarity and terrorism.
We have stepped up efforts to put an end to the fighting through non-military means at the national, regional and international level. Meanwhile, we have also used our military channels against terrorist groups. In the last 13 months, the country’s brave security and defence forces have carried out more than 40,000 combat operations and over 16,000 resolute operations in various parts of the country. Currently, as I speak, the brave sons of this land are busy suppressing the terrorists of the Haqqani network, the Taleban and other terrorist groups in seven provinces, as part of 15 ongoing military operations.
The fighting ability of the national security and defence forces has been enhanced significantly compared with the past. Within less than a year, at least 50,000 of our patriotic families have sent their sons and daughters to join the ranks of our security forces. We thank our patriotic families and each and every mother and father who gave birth to such brave children. Our security forces were given a warm welcome all across the country. Some housewives in various parts of the country have even voluntarily provided food to our security forces while they were engaged in military operations. The modest women of this land still remember the oppression of these fools [from when the Taleban were in power] and will never tolerate this group [applause].
Based on the security requirements and in the light of the lessons learnt from previous years, we have established a military unit in Konduz and an army brigade in Badakhshan Provinces [applause]. We have also created a deputy command for special forces in order to enhance coordination among special security units. We are proud of the sacrifices made by this unit.
Among some of the units recently set up within our security forces are: the technical, weaponry and artillery section; the 777 special air force brigade; the coordinating centre for the Kabul Garrison command – led by the chief of army staff and we thank him; the regional hospital of the 215 army corps; directorates for technical affairs and operations and maintenance within the army corps and army brigades; the centre for evaluation of intelligence threats and the radio intelligence centre.
[Speaking in Pashto] Esteemed audience! Last year when we had a limited number of helicopters and planes, we began the renovation of the country’s air force and now our air force is active to the extent that they are able to launch air operations against our enemies in some of the mountainous regions such as Khostak and Kohestani [applause].
The military coordination centre that we established last year has become the most effective centre with regards to coordination and decisions. Our intelligence abilities in various areas have progressed substantially.
More than 80 generals of our country were retired after reaching pension age to make way for our youth and to inject more young blood into our army and make it more powerful. The reform process in this area is ongoing.
Today, our security and defence forces have the support of some Islamic countries, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Australia, Japan, Canada, India, NATO member states and other international partners. We are pleased to say that a consensus has been established among international donors to support our defence and security forces in the context of a five-year security plan [applause]. This plan will be finalized in the near future at the Warsaw Summit. Before that, we will discuss the plan with you at the palace. This consolidation is the result of the hard work of the National Security Council members and especially esteemed Mr Atmar and esteemed Mr Stanekzai. I thank them very much.
Esteemed MPs and senators! In the next few days, the national defence minister and the heads of the intelligence agency will be presented to you for a vote of confidence. I hope for your cooperation in this regard. This will fill the gap [applause] We will no longer continue with acting ministers. We echo your voice [applause].
Esteemed MPs and senators, we must stand against the Haqqani Network and other Taliban groups as they are serving foreign interests and have formed an alliance with international and regional terrorists and the drugs mafia and are seeking to return our people and country to the dark era of history. History testifies to the fact that whenever we have remained united, the strongest combat armies of the world have knelt down in front of us. In order to defend our religion, country and constitutional values, we must unanimously and practically demonstrate unity. There will be no compromises and we will take action against those who work in this system and government and who harm our national unity by exploiting its resources and knowingly or unknowingly joining the enemy’s psychological warfare. I request that you, the MPs and leaders of this country, introduce this moral discipline and incorporate it into a law, so that we can more successfully respond to the enemy’s psychological warfare. You requested an explanation for friend and foe from me at our meeting in the presidential palace a few days ago. Our friends are the citizens of this country, regardless of whether they support or do not support the system, the political opposition that has a different position and perspective, but is committed to the supreme national interests and protects and guards them as much as they can. However, our enemies are those who exploit the sacred religious emotions of our young people and are part of the drugs mafia and are making their fortune through this. The enemies of Afghanistan are the slaves of foreigners, such as Da’ish, Al-Qa’idah, the Haqqani Network, the Taliban and other savage groups which take pleasure in shedding the blood of their compatriots and continuing war and terrorism. Talks with the slaves of foreigners cannot be held. However, we have opened our doors for reconciliation talks with those Taliban who are willing to cooperate with their country in ending the bloodshed and restoring peace and stability. However, this is not an everlasting opportunity.
Esteemed nation and audience, our efforts to build an effective international mechanism to end war and bring about international consensus, in particular to meet the genuine demands of our people, have proven effective. Despite the problems, the mechanism of quadrilateral talks has prepared the ground for better recognition of the fact that the demands of our people and governance are genuine and that a political solution must be sought [to the current crises]. As a result of these efforts and an active diplomacy, we have extensive relations with our key international partners in the region and the world, including key Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, based on mutual trust. And those who have failed to honour their commitments within this international framework, who did not want to honour them, have been more isolated than ever before.
Pakistan promised to use military force against those Taliban elements who do not renounce violence and reconciliation [with the Afghan government]. Let me clarify this today – we are not expecting Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. We, however, call on Pakistanis to keep the promises they made in the quadrilateral agreement and carry out military operations against those who, according to our intelligence organizations, the intelligence organizations of our international partners and senior Pakistani officials, have centres inside Pakistan and whose leaders are residing inside Pakistan. We also call on Pakistan to hand over these criminals to our courts to be punished unless it is willing to launch an operation against them itself. Our relations with Pakistan are based on mutual obligations and rights. We and the world expect our neighbour, Pakistan, to drop the policy of “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists” and to launch operations against them all, meaning that there is no good terrorist or bad terrorist because a terrorist is a terrorist. Pakistan’s government should act as a responsible government. There is no good terrorism or bad terrorism. And whoever believes in this will in the end themselves be harmed by the terrorists. Our people are expecting us to take the issue of sanctuaries, equipment and resources being provided to terrorist groups on Pakistan’s soil for use against Afghanistan to the UN and several other international institutions as well as international civil society, because this is against the UN charter and international conventions. No country should support terrorists against another country. We believe their expectation is genuine. Despite our efforts and desires to shape regional cooperation, we have no choice but to refer to the UN Security Council and take serious diplomatic steps unless [Pakistan] changes its policy. Furthermore, we will take steps to pursue criminals whose hands are stained with the blood of our people outside Afghanistan with the help of international institutions.
Esteemed MPs, senators, dear audience, sisters and brothers,
The government never halts its peace efforts, in view of the holy verse “peace lies in reconciliation”. However, we will pursue peace only through Afghan channels and the Afghan government will reach peace only with those who do not want war and violence, who accept Afghanistan’s constitution and who completely cut their ties with terrorists. However, I want to make it clear to everyone that if we want peace, it does not mean that criminals will walk freely and a blind eye will be turned to the acts of murderers. Our defence and security forces, who enjoy the backing of their nation, in particular of the religious scholars, have decided and devised a programme to destroy the centres of the Haqqani Network and its friends – militants, Da’ish, Al-Qa’idah and other savage groups and send these rebels to hell. The enemies of Afghanistan must realize that if they are caught during a combat operation or while conducting an act of terrorism against the people of Afghanistan, they will definitely be handed over to the law and will be punished according to the law. I assure our esteemed MPs, senators, elders and the pious people of Afghanistan that as the president and guard and protector of the rights and security of the people of Afghanistan, I will deal severely with those who shed the blood of our innocent people and soldiers and will show no mercy when punishing them. No-one will be pardoned anymore. The Afghan government is committed to executing the rulings of the courts and legal and judicial authorities strictly, including where it concerns capital punishment.
The execution of these orders with strong determination delivers a clear message: our justice system is strong enough to punish criminals and terrorists. But it is clear that our resolve to apply the law must conform to the constitutional injunctions, our commitment to human rights and just policies. You will see how those who have rejected our call for reconciliation will beg us to join the peace process after being defeated on the battlefield. Henceforth, we will achieve lasting and dignified peace through tough military action throughout the country.
Esteemed MPs, senators, sisters and brothers, all of our people stress the need for reform and a fundamental change. We are committed to honouring our promises in this regard. Reform of the electoral bodies has started and elections will be held on time. I request both houses of parliament to pass the [electoral] law submitted to them as soon as possible. One of the weak points in our government, which the enemy is exploiting, is corruption. The perpetrators have weakened the military capabilities of our defence and security forces and are serving the country’s enemies. We will mete out serious punishment through our courts to these perpetrators who commit treason. I request you all to support reforms and the elimination of corruption in every institution, in particular in the security sector, to completely depoliticize our security institutions. And those who exploit their positions should not be supported at all. We can secure victory over the enemy on the battlefield only by introducing reforms and creating cleaner institutions. I request you to support the government in achieving this goal.
In order to fight corruption, the legal and judicial system and the independence of the judiciary must be further strengthened. More attention must be paid to the protection of our esteemed judges and prosecutors against the perpetrators of organized crime. I should thank the lower house of parliament for giving a vote of confidence to Attorney-General Mr Hamidi and for preparing the ground for completion of the High Judicial Council. As part of the reforms in the judicial system, Mr Halim and his friends have transferred, replaced or appointed new judges over the past six months and have launched capacity building programmes for judges. The National Security Council will approve a new regulation for the formation of Afghanistan’s judicial and legal police. This will help judges and prosecutors to fulfil their duties confidently. I thank those judges and prosecutors who have issued death sentences to rebels and assure them that we will protect them. Moreover, the government is making efforts to improve the economic situation and create employment opportunities. The Brussels conference on Afghanistan will be held and will be attended by more than 70 countries and 20 international organizations who will announce their commitment to economic development and the promotion of good governance for the next five years.
Development projects which were launched last year will continue this year and the TAPI [gas pipeline project], the CASA-1000 [project for] electricity supply from Turkmenistan, the Aqina-Turkmenistan railway track and Herat-Khawaf [railway track] are among these projects.
Esteemed MPs and senators, I call on you once again to continue supporting your courageous and brave security and defence forces. Your political support will help our security and defence forces to fight the enemies of Afghanistan more confidently and, God willing, this year will see the last and final defeat of terrorists and murderers.
Long live Afghanistan,
Long live Afghanistan,
Long live Afghanistan.