By: Salahuddin Rabbani, Chairman, Afghanistan High Peace Council
The Tokyo conference on Afghanistan this month brought together 55 countries and 25 international organizations from around the world to support Afghanistan’s direction towards self-reliance, sustainable economic development and peace. Japan not only played an important role in the organization of this important conference as a host to re-commit international support for Afghanistan but also proved its globally unique role as an advocate for reconstruction, development and peace.
The landmark January 2002 Tokyo Conference which gathered steadfast financial and other types of support for Afghanistan has also brought significant achievements in democracy, human rights, media, education, economy, commerce and development in my country.
The Constitution of Afghanistan drafted in 2004 is recognized as one of the most democratic in the region surrounding Afghanistan. The Constitution has created checks and balances through executive, legislature and judicial institutions of the state, guarantees for universal principles of freedom, justice and human rights including women’s rights.
Afghanistan was able to hold elections after thirty years though recently under difficult circumstances. Schools were opened up to Afghan boys and girls. Civil society emerged strongly, media became robust and rights organizations especially women’s found their way into the political realms. The Afghan constitution guarantees twenty five percent women representation in the Parliament. There are 69 women members out of 249 in the parliament. Women can even run for Presidential elections. The first candidate who has confirmed on record to run for 2014 election in Afghanistan is a woman.
There are also challenges to be addressed ahead. With mutual commitments, accountability and reforms, we highly hope to tackle corruption, improve governance and ensure the rule of law.
Strategic partnerships with the United States and other allies have re-assured Afghans for the stability of their country in the long run. International partners of Afghanistan proved their strong support behind the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSFs) in Chicago. ANSFs are ready to take over responsibilities and defend the country in the face of any internal and external threats after 2014.
The Peace Process I am mandated to lead is committed to work hard to end violence in the country. The process was the result of collective recognition and growing consensus in Afghanistan, the region and beyond for achieving durable peace, stability and security in the country.
The process has two dimensions: the Afghan Peace and Re-integration Program (APRP) aims to re-integrate armed oppositions into the society. Those who join their communities through APRP will also be given the opportunities to work. The second dimension is peace talks with the leadership of the armed opposition to end the ongoing conflict. The process is followed with the conditions that the armed opposition will renounce violence, accepts the Constitution of Afghanistan and cut ties with terrorist organizations. Japan’s role is commendable as the major supporter of the APRP, and the process as a whole.
The success of the peace process also depends on our victory in other processes including the transition of security responsibilities in 2013, the political transition in 2014 and regional cooperation. Another important element is the long term support of the International Community for which Japan has played a major role with the organization of the Tokyo Conference to support Afghanistan’s direction towards self-reliance.