Thank you very much. I will take just a very brief moment to first of all thank all the participants, but particularly His Highness the Agha Khan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Prince Amyn and Prime Minister Badawi, and our own President who spent a great deal of time preparing for this Conference and joined us to express his views on these issues.
I want to make sure to state my heart filled appreciation for the efforts and participation in all aspects of this Conference by the businessmen and women, ministers, international donors and organizations and civil society representatives. I am particularly proud of my Afghan brothers and sisters. They have participated in this Conference with gusto,
intelligence and care. I hope that we can continue to build on this type of interaction between the private sector, government and the international community in the future so that we can truly participate together in building Afghanistan’s future prosperity.
After all, when all is said and done, we will have to leave an inheritance for the future generation of Afghans and that inheritance – or what is called in Dari “Merras” – is what we will be judged by. To do this well, we must minimize our differences, act intelligently and avoid unnecessary conflicts between the government, the international community and the private sector. The younger generation will judge us by whether we cooperate together or not.
We Afghans have the ability to lead and we have the ability to sacrifice. If this is not understood, I think many of our current plans and activities will fail. And we will be judged accordingly. Success is ours and failure is ours. Therefore, it is up to all of us to do the right thing.
There are millions and millions of Afghan young people looking over our shoulders. So please remember that to them the government must be answerable; to them the international community must be committed; and to them the leadership of the regional countries must be committed. We Afghans have suffered a great deal and we have promoted the cause of freedom throughout the world. This is our time. And we shall make sure that we do not suffer again. We will go further in life with our heads up.
Imagine for a moment an Afghanistan which in a few years will emerge from our current difficult situation, when Afghanistan is a prosperous, stable and peaceful country. We can contribute immensely to our neighbors’, to our region’s and to the world’s stability and prosperity. Just imagine this possibility. This is what we are committed to and the private sector, with help from the government and the international community, must play a leading role.
The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Government as a whole have expressed their firm commitment to work with and for private sector growth and development. I think they have done a great job of committing themselves to look to the future by endorsing all the specific actions included in the follow-up plan of this conference.
This is the first time that the Afghan Government has publicly recognized the role of the private sector as a major partner in the development of the country.
The Government has established a strategic development plan – the ANDS. It has three components and three actors: the Government is one; the private sector is next; and the international community and neighbouring countries are the third. They must all work together and they must all learn from each other and proceed with a program that gets
Afghanistan to the place that it deserves.
During this Conference we have heard some of the best ideas for effectively establishing an enabling environment for the private sector.
We heard from His Highness the Aga Khan, who has enormous experience with the process of development in many countries. We are very grateful for his presence and for AKDN’s support for this conference and the work they do throughout this country.
We heard from Prime Minister Badawi, who explained how the transformation of Malaysia took place and what the Government did to implement the reforms were needed.
We heard today from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who for many years worked in the private sector, working with Citigroup in New York City, where we both lived. Now he leads the Government of Pakistan. He has transferred all of his abilities and knowledge to serve his country. You heard about the remarkable accomplishments that Pakistan has achieved on his watch.
We also have heard many good ideas from our own Ministers and businessmen and women.
I want to emphasize in conclusion that we Afghans must look first to ourselves. We have to take our responsibilities seriously. The issue of reform and the commitment to our future must be addressed straightforwardly and pursued vigorously.
And the international community must find new ways to help this country strongly and immediately. One fundamental thing which is not often adequately taken into account is the high cost of delay, which is extraordinarily expensive. We cannot and should not wait.
Every minute and every day that passes costs us dearly. So I plead to the international community to take a new look.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz mentioned the Marshall Plan. We need a substantial amount of investment that is well distributed in order to build the foundation of this country’s economy, because without this the private sector will not be able to flourish. Creating an enabling environment does not mean simply passing a few new laws. We need high levels of productive investments for a long period of time, so that this country can use the Godgiven talents of its population, for which many of you have expressed admiration, to build this country.
So let us give the Afghan population, the private sector and society as a whole a chance to make progress and in doing so contribute to its own and to the world’s peace and prosperity.