H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s speech at Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), New Delhi, 24 October 2017
Printer-friendly versionSend to friend
Untitled-1.jpg

Highlights

President Ghani dwelled on the causes of global uncertainty, the regional security context and the New US Strategy in South Asia.

Drivers of Global Uncertainty

• President Ghani identified four drivers of global uncertainty: (1) Unclear definition of rules for the 21st Century; (2) Uncertain prospects for the global economy and globalization; (3) Increasing violence by non-state actors but slow response by states and failure of states to forge a common against non-state actors who collaborate, coordinate their actions; (4) Changing nature of jobs due to the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Regional Trends

• The regional trends identified by President Ghani included: (1) Greater prospects for the Asian continental economy due to connectivity; (2) Rules of the Game between States had not yet been defined as some continue to pursue State sponsorship of terrorism; (3) Fragmented response to growing challenges.

Afghanistan’s Four Transitions

• Since 2014, Afghanistan has undergone four transitions: (1) First democratic transition in Afghanistan’s history; (2) Security transition to the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) following withdrawal of international forces; (3) Economic transition from military contractor-based economy to improved fundamentals of the economy; (4) Transition in the Culture of the State (dealing with corruption, integrity of people holding high appointments and taking ownership of internal problems).

Afghanistan Foreign Policy

• The key foreign policy objectives/achievements: (1) Connectivity in South Asia with Afghanistan at the “Heart of Asia” providing connectivity to Central and West Asia; (2) Revival of Northern Connectivity (through erstwhile Lapis Lazuli route to Europe); (3) Breakthrough in relations with the US; (4) New forms of connectivity through fiber optical cables along Wakhan corridor, 5-nation rail connectivity between China and Iran, Air Bridge to India, TAPI & CASA 1000; and (5) Robust dialogue with Iran.

ANSF

• The current military capabilities of the ANSF have been bolstered with 7 Corps being put in place including one Corps of Special Forces. This had created confidence in the minds of the population that the State was resilient and not about to collapse.

Relations with Pakistan

Progress in relations with Pakistan had not been made. The South Asia Strategy announced by President Trump was a Game Changer, according to President Ghani. The Strategy singled out India for engagement especially in economic and development assistance. He hoped that the new context would bring a new perspective in Pakistan.

Future

• President Ghani was optimistic about future prospects. He envisioned Afghanistan as a “round-about” of regional connectivity (as envisioned by Toynbee) not a “cul-de-sac”. The menace of drugs needed to be dealt with. He added that the Taliban needed to be pushed by Pakistan instead of having a Pakistan-backed peace process. The Afghan leadership needed “courage, compassion and determination” as well as a willingness to own its internal problems such as corruption.
CPEC

• In response to a query on Afghanistan joining the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), President Ghani was forthright that access to Central Asia would be provided only if Afghanistan was provided access to Wagah/Attari.

Indo –Afghan Relations

• He added that India was Afghanistan’s largest export market. President Ghani welcomed Indian economic and development assistance including four MI-35 helicopters.

• He reiterated that no secret security agreements had been entered into with India and no clandestine facilities operated from Afghan soil.

QUAD

• In response to a question on Afghanistan’s participation in the Quadrilateral Process (QUAD) , President Ghani stated that it was important to engage all players till a regional consensus emerged. He added that on paper the Quadrilateral emphasized the distinction between reconcilable and non-reconcilable elements and highlighted the need to deal with the non-reconcilable elements. The inclusion of these elements in the Quadrilateral process was important to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan. The Quad is one process. There are also other tracks – bilateral, trilateral and multilateral – all of which together are trying to achieve the same objective of stabilising the region. These various tracks are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing. Afghanistan will have to talk to and engage not only those countries that play a stabilising role but also those countries that are seen as disruptors and destabilizers.

Event Date: 
October 24, 2017