From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Mostapha Zaher (Special Representative of the Interim Government of Afghanistan)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Mr Chairperson, Excellencies, the Heads of States, Excellencies the Heads of Governments, Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Mr Director-General, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As his Special Envoy, His Excellency, Hamid Karzai, has asked me to convey his best wishes to all the participants of this distinguished assembly and to express his deep regrets for not being present on this momentous occasion in which the subject of liberating mankind from hunger is being discussed. The duration of the Summit overlaps with the dates of the Emergency Loya Jirga, which was convened in Kabul yesterday by His Majesty Muhammad Zaher Shah, the former King of Afghanistan. The Loya Jirga is required to appoint a transitional government for the next eighteen months and set the future policy direction of our country. The presence of Chairman Hamid Karzai in the Emergency Loya Jirga is, therefore, indispensable.

Mr Chairperson, the right to adequate and nutritious food is part and parcel of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the 1996 Rome Declaration and Plan of Action, the international community resolved to reduce by no later than 2015 the number of undernourished people in the world by half.

Regretfully, the degree of achievement is far below the target set. Hence, we congratulate the Director-General of FAO for convening the World Food Summit: five years later with a view to invigorating the political will and mobilizing additional resources in support of agriculture, food security and rural poverty eradication. In this connection, we welcome the creation of the Trust Fund in FAO, and appeal to donors to make generous contributions to this Trust Fund. The Millennium Summit, the Doha Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus have been very encouraging, particularly with regard to the need to double the level of ODA. We strongly support the two important themes of Political Will and Resource Mobilization selected for this Summit.

Excellencies, the events of the past twenty-five years have been traumatic, to say the least, for the people of my country, Afghanistan, and you are well aware of the sufferings of our people. I need not elaborate on them. Suffice it to say, that Afghans are facing many challenges, including the repatriation and resettlement of millions of refugees and internally-displaced persons. Their reintegration into the economic life of the nation is a formidable task. The rebuilding of Afghanistan takes time and patience and demands good governance, open society, sound planning, hard work and plenty of goodwill coupled with sustained technical and financial assistance from the international community.

Honourable delegates, because of prolonged war and consecutive years of drought, Afghanistan is facing chronic food insecurity. At present, almost one-third of our population, that is to say nearly 7.5 million persons, depends on food aid from WFP and bilateral donors. We are grateful for this assistance. The harvest of cereals this year is also affected by low rainfall in some areas of the country and invasion by desert locust, especially in the north. Therefore, our people do require additional food aid over the next year. The Government of Afghanistan is grateful to FAO, WFP, bilateral donors and NGOs for their generous assistance, and looks forward to the active involvement of FAO in the reconstruction of our agricultural sector. Let me say that our country has the resource potential to be self-sufficient in food, as we were prior to 1978.

The Interim Administration has prepared a National Development Strategy which has three pillars: one, to use humanitarian assistance in conjunction with social policy in making life secure for the people and in establishing the foundation for sustainable human capital; two, to use international aid in building the necessary physical and human infrastructure that will open windows of opportunity to all our citizens, particularly women, and which could trigger economic growth with equity and upgrade the human resource capital of our nation. Health and education, food production, the development of physical infrastructure, irrigation, animal health and production and forestry remain on the top of the priority list. Another area of major concern is freeing our nation from the cultivation of illicit crops. This is a major challenge, and we call on the international community to help us to eradicate this social disease as soon as possible; three,to make the competitive private sector the engine of future national economic development.

The Government of Afghanistan is looking toward the donor community, the United Nations System, international financing institutions and the private sector for active and sustained participation in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Mr Chairperson, I am grateful to you for giving me the time to address this distinguished assembly and to thank the honourable delegates for their courtesy and patience. Finally, I wholeheartedly thank the Government and the people of this great country, Italy and the person of His Excellency, Mr Silvio Berlusconi, President of the Council of Ministers, for facilitating the return of His Majesty, the Father of the Nation, to his homeland and for contributing to the security, peace, stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

I humbly bow and pray in front of God Almighty to bless each and every nation the family of humankind to bestow upon each and every one of us the strength, courage and wisdom to realize this very worthy task for all the peoples of Terra our common planet.
Thank you very much.

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