H.E. Ambassador Dr. Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimie's November 24, 2014, Speech on the Occasion of the "Do Not Forget Afghanistan" Campaign

Honorable guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Firstly, I would like to communicate my sincerest thanks to Japan for hosting and to the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development and the “Do Not Forget Afghanistan” Japanese Coalition, for organizing this highly important “Do Not Forget Afghanistan” event.

Today we are gathered here at this magnificent Tsukiji Hongan-ji for a very special purpose. As my Japanese friends are aware, the name Tsukiji comes from the kanji characters meaning “reclaimed land”. In Afghanistan over the previous thirteen years, the people of Afghanistan have been “reclaiming our land”. By reclaiming our land, I mean reclaiming our country, reclaiming our peace, reclaiming our respect and reclaiming our identities as Afghans in a peaceful and united country.

After decades of turmoil and hardship, the last thirteen years have seen the people of Afghanistan steadily rebuilding their country. With the assistance of the international community, and in particular, the invaluable assistance from the noble nation of Japan, Afghanistan has made tremendous steps forward in rebuilding the social, political and economic foundations of our country. Such advances include the dramatic improvements in the areas of health, education, equality, infrastructure, democratic governance and in the rule of law. For example, in as little as thirteen years the number of girls receiving an education has gone from almost zero in 2001 to more than 3.35 million girls in schools and tens of thousands of women attending university in 2014. This is indeed a great achievement and this proves that Afghanistan is moving forward.

However, there is still so much work that needs to be done. Afghanistan is a young democracy. Just nine weeks ago, His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in as the new President and Chief Executive Officer respectively. This was the first time in the Afghanistan’s history that the leadership of the country was transferred through democratic elections. Again, this proves that Afghanistan is moving forward. As the majority of the International Security Assistance Force completes its mission in Afghanistan and the international news headlines shift their focus to other areas of the world, now is not the time to forget Afghanistan.

Honorable guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the 32 million people of Afghanistan I say, do not forget how far Afghanistan has come. Do not forget the great achievements that have been made. Do not forget that these great achievements have been made in just thirteen short years. Do not forget the many noble and brave and honorable Afghans and ISAF member States’ service men and women who have made great sacrifices, and have often died, in fighting corruption and extremism. Do not forget how the lives of millions of normal Afghans have been significantly improved by your generosity and cooperation. And finally, do not forget that the consequence of forgetting Afghanistan will surely be a reversal of the improvements in the lives of millions of Afghans.

Honorable guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Japan has been a model to the world as an example of rebuilding a nation after times of great turmoil. Due to the strength of character of the noble people of Japan, Japan has time and time again faced adversity and has rebuilt itself to be a model to the world as a country of peace, democracy and harmonious social relations. As you are aware, rebuilding a country does not happen in just thirteen years. As my Japanese friends will know and understand, Ishi no ue nimo sannen (石の上にも三年).

Honorable guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is this one point that I humbly ask you to remember. Rebuilding a country does not happen in just thirteen years…... Ishi no ue nimo sannen (石の上にも三年).

Finally, on behalf of the Afghan Government and all my Afghan brothers and sisters, I sincerely thank the people and Government of Japan and the international community for their genuine and extraordinary generosity and steadfast support in helping the people of Afghanistan reclaim their lives. You, the noble people of Japan and the international community, will be forever fondly remembered, deep in the hearts of the Afghan people, as having given the most benevolent and most treasured of gifts – the gift of a new life with hope for the future.

Thank you very much.