The Governor of Faryab, Mr. Abdul Haq Shafaq, gives lecture at NUPI
During his visit to Oslo, Governor Abdul Haq Shafaq of Faryab Province in Afghanistan gave a lecture on "The Afghan Security Takeover – and Norway's presence in Meymaneh".
Around 80 people were present at NUPI (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs), on 26 August, to listen to the Governor’s lecture and take part in the debate on the topic. Helge Lurås from NUPI introduced Mr. Shafaq and led the debate.
Governor Shafaq first of all thanked the Norwegian people and tax payers for all their generous support to Afghanistan. He explained: “In order for the transition of security to the Afghan officials to be successful and sustainable there are several factors that need to be in order. In addition to the internal factors, there is also the question of whether our neighboring countries will disturb the process or not”.
Mr. Shafaq argued that the first step to secure Afghanistan is training and equipping the Afghan National Army and Police, and that this can be achieved with the cooperation of the international community. “The Norwegian forces enable us to reach this goal”, Mr. Shafaq said. He argued that in addition to the known challenges of corruption and drug trafficking, unemployment is an enormous challenge. “It is very important for the government solve the challenge of unemployment. Some people without work actually see no other option than to join the insurgency”, Mr. Shafaq said.
The Governor emphasized that it is essential that the trust between the government and the international community is restored and that the support and aid should be channeled through the government departments. “The international community has to trust the Afghan government, despite accusations of corruption, because sooner or later the government will have to stand on its own feet. Then, it is important both that the procedures are there and that the Afghan people have faith in the government’s abilities. In this way, the focus must be shifted from short-term to long-term projects”, Mr. Shafaq said.
About the situation in Faryab, Governor Shafaq said that it is influenced by the general situation in Afghanistan. However, all the districts of the Faryab Province are accessible, the schools are open and safe, and most of the security challenges have been overcome. Mr. Shafaq said that there are various groups of insurgencies in Afghanistan: there is the hardcore Taliban with extreme views; there are criminals who pretend to be Taliban; there are ordinary thieves who rob families’ houses and people on the streets; and then there are people who are dramatically affected by poverty. “When it comes to the hardcore group of Taliban, these are very limited in Faryab and have very much been weakened during the past years”, Mr. Shafaq argued.
To a question on ethnic challenges in the society and in the army, Mr. Shafaq answered that in the process of transition, reintegration is not the main precondition to succeed. “As President Karzai himself emphasizes, what has to be done first is the training of the Afghan National Army. Regarding the army, people from all ethnicities are represented and equal, we do not have any ethnic conflicts in the army. Still, only 30 per cent of the problems can be solved through military assistance, and the other 70 per cent through civilian efforts. We have to win the hearts and minds of the people”, Governor Shafaq concluded.