On November 6th, 2008, H.E. Ambassador Jawed Ludin delivered a presentation at an international peace conferance in Stockholm. The conference was organised by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), in cooperation with ENNA (European Network of NGOs in Afghanistan), and was called ”Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: Local, regional and global perspectives”. In his presentation titled ”The Government’s peace building attempts 2001–2008”, Ambassador Ludin discussed the mistakes that have been committed since the Bonn conference in 2001. Below is the text of Mr. Ludin’s statement:
say that peace is a priority for the Afghan government, for Afghanistan
and its people is a vigorous understatement. Bringing peace is the
essence of what is today going on in Afghanistan, and for the Afghan
state, it is its basic raison d’être.
What does peace building mean? Firstly, there is the peacemaking
element which is about the cessation of violence, ending violent
conflict. In any conflict situation the immediate thing to do is to end
the violence, and to take actions to bring hostile positions closer to
make violence impossible.
Secondly, there is the challenge of sustaining peace. That has to do
with a more long term perspective, and more fundamental steps and
measures to make that first step peacemaking irreversible. Sustaining
peace can be achieved through democratisation, because one sees
conflict as a symptom of the lack of democracy, and it makes people
interested in durable peace.
Thirdly, there is also the aspirational element of the peace concept
which is the "real" peace building, having to do with a society that is
free of structural violence, where people have their rights, where the
society becomes peaceful in a fundamental way.
The most important thing is that the peace building process is not
going on in sequences, and it is not done in these three major steps
that I discussed. All three levels of peace and the three steps are
usually happening at the same time.
Ladies and gentlemen,
is still a country at war, but peace in Afghanistan is not a matter
which concerns Afghans only, instead it has become a global project.
The Afghanistan project that started after 9/11 is not about only
putting an end to violence in Afghanistan, it is about ending violence
that could potentially be perpetrated by terrorists globally. It is
accordingly a global project.
The most important opportunity for the first step of bringing peace in
Afghanistan was the Bonn conference in Germany. However, the importance
of that conference when it comes to ending violence and starting a
peace process is now questioned. The most important critique is that
the Taliban and also Hezb-e Islami, Hekmatyar’s party, were not
invited. Therefore it was not a peace conference, strictly speaking.
Making peace is about bringing hostile positions closer to each other,
to compromise, and in Bonn the most important hostile force at that
time, the Taliban, was not involved. There was an assumption that they
were eliminated, which we now know, in retrospect, was not the case.
They were simply removed from Kabul.
The past thirty years have shown that it is very tricky for a
government in Afghanistan to base its claim for legitimacy on the
pretext of bring peace and rule of state in the country. It is not only
our post-Taliban government over the last seven years, but indeed any
other government during the past thirty years has claimed that is aim
is to bring peace. The Soviet Union occupation was claimed to be done
in the interest of bringing peace when there was risk of civil war
after the communist coup in 1978. Instead, it became part of a
self-perpetuating cycle of violence. The Mujahedin were also
essentially fighting for peace, for return of a sense of normalcy in
Afghanistan, but they took Afghanistan to yet another cycle of
violence. The same scenario occurred when the Taliban gained power in
the country. They also claimed to bring peace, but they did not.
So now the question is: what credence can be attached to our claim
today of bringing peace? After all, all the governments before the
current one have been claiming to do the same thing, to bring peace.
There is one crucial distinction to be made between all the previous
governments who claimed to be working for peace, and the present. And
the difference is in the current democratisation process; in the fact
that today we want to sustain peace, make it durable, by building
democratic institutions. None of the past government took any step
towards democratisation, towards involving the society and making peace
irreversible. The past governments sought to enforce peace by
suppressing violence and any opposition to their peace. Whether they
were sincere in their claim of bringing peace is irrelevant; they
certainly did not try to do what it takes to make peace durable.
Now, for the past seven years the current government has obviously had
a large element of suppressing violence, essentially through the fight
against terrorism, but it has not had its major focus just on that. The
difference is to be found in the democratisation process we have
supported. The democratisation process started in 2001. There were the
Loya Jirgas, the new constitution which was ratified in 2003, the
presidential elections in 2004, and the parliamentary elections in
2005. Focus has been on bringing about democratic institutions that
ensures political inclusion and participation. Support has been
provided for civil society and this is the main difference between this
government and those in the past that also claimed to bring peace.
The aspirational aspects of peace, which is peace building in a society
that is free from violence, goes back the questions of rights, and to
the economic development of the country where economic deprivation will
not create conditions for conflict again. In any conflict, everywhere,
there is always a "resource" question at the heart of the problem, even
if the conflict has to with identity. In Afghanistan it has definitely
been the case. Therefore, making peace permanent will depend on
addressing the longterm economic dynamics of conflict.
This is the conceptual framework where the government’s efforts are taking place today.
the help of the international community, Afghanistan will build and
sustain peace by acting on all three levels of enforcing peace by
suppressing violence; making peace durable through democratisation; and
making peace permanent through economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
wish to address some of the specific issues that emerge when discussing
peace buiding in Afghanistan. One core issue is the of matter of
justice versus peace. The question was originally raised in 2001 at the
Bonn Conference. The whole term of peace versus justice is a false
dichotomy. First of all it has to be clarified that peace can never be
versus justice. It is true that, if there is no peace, then there
cannot be any justice or vice-a-versa. It is also important that
justice cannot be sacrificed for the sake of bringing peace.
Ambassador Brahimi spoke of this dichotomy when he was mediating the
Bonn talks and later when he was representing United Nations in
Afghanistan. He explained why Afghanistan cannot press the question of
past abuses and records, in relation to people who became involved in
the government, the cabinet, and the parliament. Why was that? Well,
maybe he thought that bringing peace by ending violence and war was a
more pressing priority at the time than investigating past abuses,
while it should not be forgotten that it is only a question of
sequencing. Not one or the other, but making first things first!
However, the challenge on that front was the steps that we took for
peace in 2001, some of which were steps that are known to have
undermined our ability to achieve justice later on. So the key is, if
we do have to deal with this false dichotomy of peace versus justice,
where there is a pressing need to end violence and achieve peace, and
where we can only have peace and justice in a sequence, then we must do
peace in a way that would not later jeopardize the possibility to do
The next concern is the
question of military action as a way to bring peace. Afghanistan is
still a country at war and the dynamics of violence are still present,
like they were in 2001. Terrorism is still there and Pakistan is an
important factor. The connection that we sometimes make between work
for peace and peaceful means for bringing peace is not realistic. It is
not effective and it is not probably even desirable. Military action,
whether it is regarded as positive or not, remains the primary measure
for bringing peace in Afghanistan, because peace in Afghanistan, at
least in its most overt sense is threatened by forces that militarily
exist. At some level it is a question of social justice, of political
inclusion and of institutionalising democracy like any other society,
but the peace that we are concerned about, that we want can primarily
be achieved through military means, not only by them. Other means are
needed in addition to the military challenge.
In discussions with NATO , not necessarily the official ones but
sometimes the ones that take place on the fringes, the question of a
political solution are increasingly being raised. This sounds good, but
if it is meant as an alternative to military action it is not
realistic. Some of the involved military generals of NATO are
surprisingly giving interviews to media, saying that a military war
cannot be won, and by doing so inadvertently reinforce the perception
that NATO and the whole military exercise are failing.
Political solutions in today’s context in Afghanistan can only work if
it is used as a secondary measure that must go hand in hand with a very
strong military posture. Against a force as nihilistic as terrorism,
enough political will cannot be mobilised to make political solutions
desirable. The terrorists are prepared to die for their cause. On the
other hand, they are not an organised opposition, ‘Taliban’ is a label
for a dangerous, nihilistic ideology that produces suicide bombers,
which can be seen today in Afghanistan. It is in relation to this that
political solutions and reconciliation must be looked upon – you can
not reconcile with the ideology of terrorism.
Having said that, a political solution, or the political element of the
solution, is not only possible, it is happening already. It started in
2002 when President Hamid Karzai made a famous statement which said
that Afghanistan is the home of all Afghans. The only exception was
those who had connection with al-Qaida or were involved in acts of
terrorism. The process of welcoming Afghans back continues, and in the
past few years specific measures have been taken. A commission was
established in 2004, by professor Mujadidi, to proactively encourage
Afghans to return, especially from Pakistan. This work is still
A new dimension to
this process that has come up in recent times is the talk about
negotiations with Taliban. The change of the regime and the new
administration in Pakistan have brought a new opportunity to break the
systematic support and networks that exist to the Taliban in Pakistan,
which are at work to train, mobilise and deploy them inside
Afghanistan. There is a hope that if that link can be broken with the
help from the new Pakistani government, then those people who are
caught in the system should not be ignored and left stranded, they
should have the possibility to return to normal civilian lives. That is
why this process has gained some momentum over the last year.
Then there is the specific example of the negotiations in Saudi Arabia
is being talked about these days. It has much to do with the diplomacy
between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has a
very influential role, not least over the establishment in Pakistan.
The consensus, the new language and relation that is now created
between President Hamid Karzai and President Zardari and the new regime
in Pakistan has to be developed, has to be broadened, and Saudi Arabia
can play a positive role in this. It seems that, on this particular
occasion, the Saudi establishment just took a purely ad hoc step to
invite some persons who had not met earlier, including some former
Taliban officials, just for an informal discussion. So basically there
are not any official negotiations taking place at the moment, and none
are even likely to take place any time soon.
Political solution is very much a question of giving a broader
dimension to the diplomacy that is going on with Pakistan. It is about
where those people, the Taliban, would go were they to be freed from
the patronage of the ISI and the religious parties in Pakistan. A
channel needs to be provided for these people and, in general, that is
what this political solution means to us. To be sure, political
solution is not an exit strategy, as some here might understand it, nor
is it an alternative to military action. It is something that needs to
be done to win in Afghanistan.
Ladies and gentlemen,
important element, which has to do with building peace in Afghanistan
is Afghanistan’s efforts at international diplomacy over the past seven
years. In Afghanistan the positive aspect of the international
dimension of the peace process is the fact that the international
community – the world – is involved. The international intervention in
Afghanistan is not just a marginal humanitarian effort that the
international community uses in other places in the world, for example
in Africa, where it is active in many mainly for humanitarian reasons.
In Afghanistan it is serious, since it concerns the security of the
sometimes cynical views that exist in the outside world about
Afghanistan – that Afghanistan was never a state and that it will never
be peaceful and so on, there is not denying the fact that there is a
true and real connection between security of Afghanistan and security
in the rest of the world. This gives hope that the world will follow
through on its commitment despite the problems and challenge that
Afghanistan is facing now.
not positive aspect of the international dimension involves the role
that foreign states have in perpetuating the current conflict. Pakistan
is the most obvious example. To address this challenge, the Afghan
government has undertaken sustained, and often difficult, diplomacy on
the one hand with Pakistan, and on the other hand with the West and the
United States. With President Musharraf, when he was the president, our
goal was to see if there is any possibility that Pakistan could
reconcile its conception of strategic depth with the stability and
prosperity of Afghanistan. President Karzai always conveyed to
President Musharraf that Pakistan’s real strategic depth was in
friendship and partnership with Afghanistan. However, this did not
work, because that whole concept of strategic depth, embedded in the
Pakistani strategic circles, was geared towards instability in
Afghanistan. The dynamics have changed significantly with President
Zardari now and the new civilian government, who share much our fears
with regards to terrorism. However, real, tangible results are yet to
In terms of our
diplomacy with the West and the United States, the objective was to
convince them that the real danger was emanating from Pakistan and not
from the villages of Afghanistan. This element of our diplomacy has
been rather successful, as we can see today, although much valuable
time has been lost.
There is a
new President-elect in the United States. The Afghan people and the
Afghan government have high hopes that, in addition to what Barack
Obama has already said in terms of policies and ambitions for
Afghanistan and the region, he will not start from scratch and be
obliged to relearn the same lessons as the Bush administration. In the
last seven years, a lot of our efforts went astray since it was a slow
learning process for the outside world about the realities of the
region. But the Bush administration did learn and it did turn around
positively on many counts. Lessons have to be learned, and the most
important lesson has to do with the role of Pakistan in that region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
is still a certain gloom in media over the security situation but also
over the government’s control of its territory. This is understandable,
given the negative trend over the past few years. In 2004, the Afghan
government lost its control over the first district to fall under the
Taliban, the district of Miyannasheen in Kandahar. It was the first
district ever that was taken by a Taliban assault. The government took
it back the following day in a few hours, but the result of this
Taliban attack was greater than the control of one district. It was a
trend that was set off. The confidence was broken between the people,
the government and international community. Due to that trend, today
there are many districts that are not under government control.
Helmand, for example, is suffering terribly. This trend must be stopped
Looking to the
future, there also positive trends building momentum. The most
important thing that has happened recently in the government in Kabul
is the reshuffling in the cabinet with Haneef Atmar appointed Minister
of Interior. For the first time in the past seven years, at least in
the security efforts there is a real team sense at the heart of the
security establishment in the government. The Minister of Interior, who
in charge of the police which has had a hard time, has some specific
ideas about how to turn the security situation around in the few months
between now and the election.
And of course, it must be emphasised that he elections are absolutely
vital. There should not be a discussion about whether or not they are
possible. They must to come through. Efforts are going on with recent
changes made, others ought to follow. A last hope from the people is
that the country is able to have these elections in September 2009.
Regardless of the outcome, the elections will be a true step towards
peace, because that will sustain peace.
Thank you for your attention.