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Cablegate: Inauguration of Afghan Parliament

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 005176

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INL/FO AND SA/FO AMB QUINN
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN/KAMEND

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL KCRM KDEM AF
SUBJECT: INAUGURATION OF AFGHAN PARLIAMENT

1. (U) SUMMARY: The inauguration ceremonies for Afghanistans
first Parliament in over 30 years began shortly after 10 a.m.
on the cold and cloudy morning of 19 December. The city was
under strict security, with most roads and even pedestrian
traffic strictly controlled. Both the upper and lower houses
of the new Parliament, together with the Cabinet and foreign
representatives, assembled in the Wolesi Jirga Plenary Hall
at the recently renovated Parliament building. Darulaman
Palace - the future home of the Parliament is still under
reconstruction, but the present temporary quarters gave a
feeling of closeness and camaraderie to the assembly. The
Parliamentarians, men and women who personified all facets
of modern Afghan history - from ex-communists to mujaheddin
fighters to old aristocrats to former Taleban and many ex-
refugees who had fled Afghanistan to Iran, Pakistan and the
West were all joined together in their new roles as
representatives of the Afghan people. The mood was dignified
but excited, befitting the solemn occasion and the presence
of so much political history and past conflict. The American
delegation included Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, the
Ambassador and LTG Karl Eikenberry. A major portion of the
ceremony was taken by President Karzais State-of- the-Union
Address to the new Assembly. END SUMMARY.

A DIGNIFIED OPENING
-------------------

2. (U) The ceremonies inaugurating the new Parliament on
December 19 were opened by Dr. Aziz Lodin, Provisional
Secretary General of the National Assembly, who welcomed the

SIPDIS
assembly and thanked all those who had contributed towards the
successful inauguration. He was followed by Qazi Ramin,
Provisional Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House), and ex-
King Zahir Shah, whose welcoming remarks were also very brief.
President Karzai was then called to administer the oath of
office to both houses, first in Pashtu and then in Dari.

KARZAIS LENGTHY SPEECH
-----------------------

3. (U) In a one-hour speech to the assembly which was
reminiscent of a state of the union address, Karzai touched on
a wide range of topics. He began by noting that the convening
of Parliament marked the completion of the process of
establishing the government of Afghanistan. He assured the
assembly that he and the government were committed to the law
of the land. He vowed to put an end to foreign intervention
in Afghanistan, to fight against terrorism, poppy cultivation
and government corruption, and to overcome the problem of
poverty. He said that none of this would be possible without
the assistance of friendly foreign countries. When the
Interim Administration was first established, the government
had been in shambles and the treasury was empty. The new
government had tried to implement the Bonn Agreement as
well as possible, but the country depended completely on
international assistance.

4. (U) Karzai reminded the assembly that the constitution was
the chief law of the land, and said that all other laws and
decrees should be referred to the Parliament. The success seen
thus far had shown the commitment by the Afghan people to
rebuilding their nation. Disarmament had been crucial while
the new army and police forces were being built, and the
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process
helped the general security of the country and provided jobs
for those who laid down their weapons. The police and the army
were being rebuilt slowly but surely. Government leadership
and administration had improved. In the past there had been a
lack of schools and universities, but this situation had
improved to the point where there were 10 functioning
universities in the country. Millions of students both male
and female were busy at their studies. Before the
establishment of the Interim Administration, women had had no
rights, but now they could be leaders. There were now five
television stations and many radio stations broadcasting in
the country. The President stressed that creation of a modern,
developed economy was a government priority. Foreign investors
had been afraid to come to Afghanistan in the past, he said,
but now there was foreign investment and the economy was
growing year by year. Since last year, for example, the
economy had grown by 13 percent. Many roads are being built,
and many towns are now being linked to each other. He
mentioned that a survey to construct new power plants was in
process, and 13,000 villages have benefited from the National
Solidarity Program. Four years ago, Afghanistan did not have
a reliable currency and Afghans had to deal with foreign
currencies. The new Afghan currency was a crucial element in
the economy, and had proven to be stable. Land has been
distributed to 25,000 families throughout Afghanistan, and,
he said, Afghanistan belonged to the Afghans once again.

5. (U) Karzai declared that the governments biggest step was
to bring Afghanistan out of isolation and to have it
recognized by the international community. It now had a
position of dignity in the world community. He thanked
Pakistan for receiving Afghan refugees in the past, and said
Afghanistan had much in common with Pakistan, including
their common fight against terrorism. Both countries were
committed not to interfere in each others affairs. Afghanistan
owed thanks to Iran as well, a country which also assisted
Afghan refugees and has also helped rebuild Afghanistan.

6. (U) The President thanked the United States for its
strategic partnership with Afghanistan, which he said saved the
country from terrorism and brought it peace. The US and
Afghanistan were committed to economic development and the fight
against terrorism. Afghanistans relations with Europe and Japan
were very good, and they had assisted and supported Afghanistan
on many occasions. Strategic partnerships with the UK, NATO
and Europe were very important. He said that India was a
friend to the Afghans, had assisted with USD 550 million in
rebuilding costs and had provided an opportunity for Afghan
students to continue their studies with Indian government
scholarships. China had been very effective in the
reconstruction process. Karzai said that the people of China
were the strongest power in Asia, and having good relations
with such an important country was crucial. He referred to
Afghanistans long relationship with Middle Eastern countries
and with Turkey, and thanked them as well for their efforts
in the reconstruction process. Finally, he noted that the
Russian Federation should play an important role in rebuilding
Afghanistan.

7. (U) Karzai declared that the future road was a long one,
and that everyone must work together. The Parliamentarians
role was a key one. Sacrifices were required to resolve the
countrys problems. Success had not yet been achieved, and
much remained to be done. Historic monuments had to be
preserved. Mosques and cultural institutions had to be built.
Illegal narcotics production had to be prevented. The
National Museum had to be rebuilt. Political parties had to
be strengthened.

8. (U) The fight against terrorism was a difficult challenge,
and could only be successful if Afghanistan had foreign
assistance. Terrorism in Afghanistan had a foreign root, and
that root had to be eradicated.

9. (U) He said that young Afghans were being victimized by
the drug trade, and that the profits from this drug trade
fed terrorism. Claiming that terrorists used drug money in
order to survive, Karzai asked that everyone work together in
order to eradicate this phenomenon, so that foreign countries
would not hold the president, the father of the nation and the
Parliamentarians culpable for illegal narcotics.

10. (U) The President admitted that there were people who
misused their official positions and who were corrupt, saying
that fighting against corruption was another priority and his
government failed to meet expectations. The help of Parliament
would be crucial in this area. He reminded the assembly that
administrative reform needed time and was not easy to
accomplish. All three branches of the government had to work
together to achieve all these goals. Creating employment and
fighting poverty were also priorities. Foreign assistance had
not created sufficient job opportunities, and the government
had to pave the way for private investors to come to
Afghanistan. This would only happen when they felt
themselves secure and safe.

11. (U) Karzai thanked the international community for its
assistance, but said that this help should be channeled
through government institutions. He added that attention
to the agricultural and livestock sectors in the country was
necessary, and that creation of job opportunities for
returning refugees and resolving their problems were
important. He said the government had plans to improve the
conditions for the nomads (kuchis) of the country, that the
education system should be modernized and a new curriculum
implemented, and that vocational schools should be created.

12. (U) Noting that internal security was an integral part of
the countrys defense, he said that the governments policy of
strengthening peace (the GOAs reconciliation program for ex-
Taleban and HiG fighters) should pave the way for those who
who wanted to return to live a normal life. He noted that
that Afghans had experienced the brutal intervention of
foreign countries which had resulted in the destruction of
Afghanistan and its army. The countrys present policy, he
claimed, was based on non-intervention in other countries
affairs, and was tied to unbreakable loyalty, strategic
cooperation with the West, and loyalty to the countries of
the region. The London Conference will be a vital next step
following the Bonn Agreement.

13. (U) Karzai ended on an emotional note which resonated
through the assembly. He said that his wish was to have a
strong Afghanistan. Afghans would - and must - show the
world that Afghanistan was a strong country, and that it
would remain strong. Afghans would show the world that
they were able and committed to helping Afghanistan get back
on its feet.

COMMENT
-------

14. (U) Although the Presidents speech was received in solemn
silence almost until the very end, his final sentences were
delivered with such emotion that his eyes began to mist, and
many in the assembled crowd could be seen wiping their own
eyes. The applause was large.

NEUMANN

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