US Envoy Urges Afghans to Work On Reconciliation, Peacetime Economy

Posted December 15th, 2011 at 6:30 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman is urging Afghanistan to work on reconciliation and start preparing for a peacetime economy.

Grossman told VOA that the international community is committed to continuing engagement and investment in Afghanistan, as stated in the final document at the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan earlier this month. But he said Afghans also must make efforts to reform their society.

He said the country's economy currently depends on military spending, but that during transformation, which is expected to begin in two years, this will decline and private sector investment will be very important.

“I think also extremely important for the future of all of this was the parts of the Bonn Document that talk about the importance of the private sector investment and the importance that the international community gives to investment from the private sector into Afghanistan, which will continue to free Afghans to make decisions about their own lives.”

He also noted that at an earlier conference in Istanbul, Afghanistan's neighbors laid out a vision of a secure and prosperous Afghanistan in a secure and stable region. He said that even though Pakistan declined participation in the Bonn Conference, its prime minister later applauded the outcome.

He said in the past decade Afghanistan has seen a lot of progress in terms of quality of life.

“Recent statistics have come out about the increase in Afghan life expectancy, the very important increases in maternal health, the health of children, the very important — vast — increases of the number of Afghan children in school, 37 percent of whom are girls, cell phones, economic development, all those things are extremely important.”

But he said peace is essential for stability and further development of the country. He said the international community is committed to support an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. But he said those who wish to reconcile must give up violence, sever links with al-Qaida and stop the killing, respect life and respect the rights of individuals and particularly the rights of women.