KARZAI'S STATE-OF-THE-NATION SPEECH
Radio Afghanistan (Dari and Pashto)
Kabul, Afghanistan
April 8, 2003

In his state-of the-nation address Afghan leader Hamed Karzai criticized his government for its shortcomings, its failure to provide security by setting up a national army and police force sufficiently quickly, to implement the disarmament process and to root out corruption and nepotism in the civil service. He gave a painstaking and detailed account of what had been achieved in the country's defence, economy, transport and communications, education and human rights and made further pledges in this respect.

Announcer (recording in Dari): Dear listeners we would like to draw your attention to a speech delivered by esteemed Hamed Karzai, the head of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, on the progress of one year and the plans of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan for the year 1382 2003 .

Hamed Karzai (recording in Pashto): In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate recites some verses from the Holy Koran Very dear compatriots, sisters and brothers, may peace and the blessings of God be upon you.

Once I again I would like to wish you a happy new year and congratulate all of you, my compatriots, wherever you are, on the arrival of the celebration of Nowruz Afghan New Year celebration . I hope that you have spent the days of New Year happily with your families.

I promised you my compatriots during my speech of congratulations on Nowruz that I would shortly inform you about the activities of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan over the last year and I would tell you what we have done and what we have not done. Now I am keeping my promise by presenting the government's report.

Security and defence

Peace, stability and security:

The conflicts ended generally across the country in the solar year 1381 2002-2003 , and it was because the establishment of new regime put an end to the reasons for the conflicts. Fighting was eliminated across the country. However, there can be no doubt that occasionally clashes have taken place among some groups and commanders, or the remnants of Taleban and Al-Qa'idah have had clashes with the counter-terrorism coalition in some areas of the country. But generally, the rule and influence of the terrorists of Al-Qa'idah and other monsters are diminishing day by day. It is because the public at large in Afghanistan and the vast sections of the people hate war. They want to live in peace, in security, within their country. They want their fields and gardens to flourish and to shape their lives that have been shattered for 23 years. They are seeking to settle in their houses, villages and cities honourably and respectably.

It is noteworthy that the memories of the sacrifices rendered by our people and countrymen of Afghanistan in their struggle to safeguard security in the country and in securing the country's frontiers and fighting against Al-Qa'idah and other anti-Afghan militant evils. Our people have rendered similar services in history, which could be compared with their struggle against the terrorists and Al-Qa'idah at the present time. All we Afghans are determined that from now on, no one should play with our lives and fate. We would not let them disrupt the peace in our country and force us to leave our country and take refuge in other countries.

We witnessed the convention of the Emergency Loya Jerga last year in the month of Saratan June-July , comprising Afghans of every class and tribe, including representatives of the refugee Afghans. The discussion lasted for seven days. They carried out the duties assigned to them in an independent, peaceful and brotherly environment. The council concluded with unity and accord.

The convening of the Loya Jerga in the country, after the years of unrest, war and destitution, is a manifestation of the existence of political stability. The government ministries and the institutions that are responsible for safeguarding peace and security have also made progress in the formation of the National Army, the police force, and in security affairs last year, which I would like to mention as follows:

Under the supervision of the National Army Formation Commission, the work on the formation of the National Army began properly last year. The proposals for the manning and standard of the National Army have been finalized. The process of absorbing youngsters into the National Army is in progress. In the final days of last year, two regiments of the National Army were completely absorbed into the framework of the Defence Ministry after military training and commenced their operations. The new military units of the National Army are skilfully and faithfully performing their assigned duties in Bamian and Paktika provinces.

To have good arrangements for the defence of the country and forming the National Army, last year we set up commissions for the defence of the motherland, disarmament, demilitarization, examining the education and training of officers and the recruitment of servicemen. Some of the commissions are operational now and they have started on their duties.

The Demilitarization Commission, headed by the deputy head of state, Prof Abdol Karim Khalili, is the most important commission. Its aims are to enforce countrywide and stable peace in the country. It aims to improve the economic sector in the country and to provide employment for those who have joined in economic and public-service activities and have given up military duties.

However, some work on disarmament has been done in some parts of the country. We formed an independent commission to organize it better. Thanks to the initiative of the Japanese government. an international conference was held in Tokyo, Japan, last year in Hout February-March to seek financial resources for the practical commencement of the Disarmament and Demilitarization Commission and for the commission's operations. Pledges of financial assistance for the demilitarization of Afghanistan and disarmament programmes were made at the conference. These financial pledges will play an effective role in enhancing the commissions.

In the formation of the national police force and the rehabilitation of the internal system of the Interior Ministry some achievements have been attained thanks to the support of experts from Germany last year. The most important of them is the rehabilitation of the Police Academy. At the moment, around 1,500 students are undergoing training at that academy. Relations between all of the provinces and the capital city were established last year. And similar relations were established between the provinces and their districts. Despite some shortcomings, we can boldly say that Afghanistan, after several years, is now in possession of a relatively advanced, countrywide and single administration.

Repatriation of refugees

Repatriation of the refugees to Afghanistan from every corner of the world reveals the existence of peace, stability and security in the country. We witnessed that Afghan refugees living in America, Australia, Europe and other regions of the world for decades were repatriated last year to return to their properties, meet their relatives for long or short periods of time. Many families living in Iran, Pakistan, India and the Central Asian countries have quit their lives as refugees and resettled in their country. The number of returnees has reached around two million and similarly 340,000 compatriots, who were displaced due to war, have been settled elsewhere in the country's provinces. The returnees and those who have resettled have received 380,00 tonnes of food in assistance. Some 60,000 shelters have been built for them, and some 50m dollars has been spent on payment for accommodation for returning to their county , other required materials and farming equipment.

Law and order

Various aspects of reconstruction work:

Afghanistan needs general reconstruction in the economic, social, political, administrative and cultural fields. Businessmen, investors, governmental and non-governmental organizations NGOs , the United Nations and other international organizations commenced this reconstruction work on a different level last year. But it is impossible to rehabilitate all of the devastation in Afghanistan in one or two years. Thus we should be patient, as we do not have the resources and the opportunities. Every project we undertake is dependent on assistance.

Our most important work in the reconstruction process was that we activated the deadlocked administration in Afghanistan. However it still has flaws and shortcomings. The good point is that the doors of the government departments opened to people across the country. The direct participation of the government was nominal in the earlier days of last year, because the donor countries transferred their donations to Afghanistan through different agencies of the United Nations and other non-government organizations. The participation of the government increased in the reconstruction programmes during the later days of the year. Government, American and other donor countries, in coordination with the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations have rendered the following work in the different fields of Afghans' political, economic, social and cultural lives.

Paving the way for the dominance of the governance of rule of law:

The government attained some achievements last year in practising legal affairs in the country and in enforcing and strengthening the law, securing people's liberty, paving the way for various activities of the people within the framework of the law.

For instance, the plan for the municipalities' electoral law, the regulations on demonstrations and strikes, legislation law for the special sector and investment, setting up a commission to draw up legislation for political parties, legislation for public organizations, and some other similar projects. But at the top of the list, a constitution drafting commission was set up last year for to determine future political, social and economic systems and provide a peaceful, calm and prosperous way of life for in Afghanistan. In the six months that its has been operating, this commission completed the draft of the constitution for Afghanistan in the last few days of the year, and we have already worked on another senior commission to examine the draft of the new Afghan constitution. The commission will be announced soon, God willing in Arabic .

Last year we established justice, and a judicial commission was set up composed of religious scholars, the country's judges and jurists, aimed at implementing the law and introducing reforms into the country's judicial and justice system, which is being supported by the UN and Italy.

What's happening in the economy

Economic Performance:

Out of the aid given to Afghanistan by donor countries last year, 25.5bn afghani currency have been given to the UN, 21.6bn Afghani to international and Afghani NGOs and some has been given to emigrants abroad and international organizations, and only 13.3bn afghani have been given to the Afghan government. The ordinary budget of Afghanistan for last year was 460m dollars, which is equal to 20.7bn new afghani currency . A very small amount of this budget, approximately 60m dollars have been obtained from state revenues, and the rest of it was dependent on foreign aid. The customs revenues of some provinces have been transferred to the central account, but complete revenues have not reached the capital. However, the state has done some important work in other economic sectors, the important ones of which are the following:

Banking and monetary reforms:

One of the prominent achievements of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan last year was printing new afghani banknotes, including reforms in the banking system. The new afghani banknotes have strong back up and it is evident that this currency is competing with foreign currencies on the market. With the printing of the new afghani banknotes, inflation and a currency crisis was prevented in the country. A single currency unit was established all over the country and our people, who were facing the problem of foreign currencies and different afghani currencies, were freed of these problems. Some problems that still exist in some provinces will be eliminated, God willing, after reforms in the banking system this year.

Commerce:

Last year, Afghanistan's trade at home and abroad was gradually improving. Afghan exports to foreign countries started again. The sanctions that had been imposed on the export of Afghan commodities to foreign markets under the Taleban have been lifted now. Afghan commodities such as rugs and carpets, dried and fresh fruit, herbal remedies, Astrakhan fur hats and other animal skins, different handicrafts, light industry and other products, have made their way to the markets of America, Europe and Asia. The United States of America and the European Union countries have eased their custom duties on Afghan exports and the Indian government has taken a similar step and some Afghan export commodities have been exempted from customs duties.

To develop trade even further, joint chambers of commerce have been set up by Afghan businessmen and some foreign countries such as America, Britain, Iran, India and Japan. Inside and outside the country, Afghans have expressed their interest in setting up trading companies. Last year, 2,602 trade companies and 97 individuals were given business permits.

To develop trade even further and open up ways to foreign countries for the export and import of commodities and provide facilities, talks have been conducted with neighbouring countries, and agreements have been concluded. And the most important agreement in this respect is the agreement activating Chahbahar Port in Iran . By means of this port, the import and export of the commodities of Afghan tradesmen would be much facilitated.

Attention to investment and the development of the private sector:

In order to development industries in the country and eliminate dependence on others, the ground has been prepared for the operations of private production companies. Last year, 2,984 manufacturing and industrial companies were permitted to function. These organizations will start their productive work in the capital and the provinces. If all these manufacturing and industrial agencies are activated, capital equal to approximately 4bn dollars will come to Afghanistan. Besides this, NGOs in the country's capital and provinces are busy in reconstruction, health affairs and public utility services, mine clearance and some other areas. The number of NGOs registered at the Ministry of Planning is as many as 1,292. Of these NGOs, 244 are foreign NGOs and 1,048 are internal NGOs. Some of these NGOs have done beneficial work in different areas of the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Mines and Industries:

Last year, big and small industries of Afghanistan started operating again, and mines resumed extraction in some places. In 1381 solar year 2002-2003 , 219.3m cubic metres of gas was extracted from the wells in the north of the country, which has fulfilled the requirement of Mazar-e Sharif fertilizer company and the remaining part was used as fuel by some families living in the cities in Jowzjan and Balkh provinces. Last year, the output of coal was 190,000 tonnes, cement was 17,000 tonnes and crude oil about 14,000 tonnes.

Similarly, marble and other building stone and gypsum have been extracted. The production of the fertilizer reached 36.4 tonnes last year.

Besides the work on the mines and industries, our great achievement last year was the signing of the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline deal with Turkmenistan. This agreement was finalized and signed by the states of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan in Jadi mid December to mid January 2002 last year. As well as other economic advantages, this great project will provide job opportunities for many of our people. The light industry enterprises have mostly been out of use and some are not capable of operating fully due to lack of capital and so they are mainly idle. However, despite all these problems, the Spinzar enterprise, the Balkh two words not distinct were operating to a certain extent. The soap and footwear sectors of Afghan industry have been operating. The wool weaving companies in Kandahar and Kabul have produced approximately 100,000 shawls and small carpets. Similarly, textile firms in Balkh and Pol-e Khomri north of the country have manufactured 2m metres of fabric for textiles. The central bread company has been relatively activate and is introducing its lines on the market.

Afghanistan and reconstruction

Road construction:

Due to the repeated demand of the state, the donor countries started building highways last year. The construction of big transit routes and other roads has been progressing apace.

The survey of Kabul-Torkham highway has been completed. This road was built ready for asphalting last year. Before this road was built, it would take vehicles seven hours to reach Jalalabad from Kabul, and now it takes them three hours. The maintenance work on this road is continuing, and asphalting of it will start this year. The Jalalabad-Torkham part of this highway will be built with financial and technical assistance from Pakistan and the Jalalabad-Kabul section will be built with the financial backing from the European Union.

The preliminary work of the Kabul-Doshi Baghlan road was completed by the engineers of the Ministry of Public Works. This road is to be built by the World Bank. The cleaning process of Salang Tunnel is being continued by a Turkish company with financial support from the World Bank. The repair work on the Spin Boldak-Kandahar road was started last year, and the Asian Development Bank is supporting this project. The construction contract has been concluded with a Pakistani company. The Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway will be completed with backing from the USA, Saudi Arabia and Japan. The work on it started last year in Aqrab October-November 2002 . The road from Pol-e Khomri Baghlan Province , Mazar-e Sharif Balkh Province , Sheberghan Jowjzan Province , Andkhoy and Aqina Fariab Province is to be reconstructed with financial support from the Asian Development Bank. Survey and design work for it is currently under way. The reconstruction of the Doshi, Pol-e Khomri, Konduz city and Sherkhan Bandar both in Konduz Province highway is being evaluated by the World Bank. The Italian government has undertaken to reconstruct the Kabul-Bamian highway. The survey for it is being carried out by Afghan and Italian engineers.

The repair and reconstruction work on the Herat-Islamqalah road have been commenced with Iran's assistance and 40 per cent of it has been completed. In this respect, reconstruction work on the Delaram-Zaranj highway will be completed at a total cost of 70m dollars donated by the Indian government. Nonetheless, survey and design work has been started by both Afghan and Indian engineers last year.

We want to accelerate road reconstruction. Besides highways, domestic provincial roads and roads joining provinces and districts in various areas of the country have been roughly constructed and gravelled by construction teams from the Public Health Ministry, the UN, the international coalition forces and some other NGOs. However, about 2,000 km of minor roads have been roughly constructed around these main highways.

After the reconstruction of the highways, our people will face the problem of housing construction and they will still have to deal with it. Last year many families reconstructed their damaged houses, and the government is taking some brisk and necessary measures through the Ministry of Housing and Town Planning, along with the city development packages, to construct residential units in Kabul and the provinces. And we shall benefit from the practical outcome this year.

Moreover, a special city development commission has been also been set up. With respect to the general reconstruction, the Ministry of Reconstruction approved and assessed 400 projects last year and we have contacted international NGOs and aid-providing countries to implement them. Moreover, a compulsory amount has been specified for these projects from that 10m-dollar budget, which was approved for government administrations and approximately 100 projects.

Boosting farming and rural services

Agriculture, livestock, irrigation and city development:

Eighty per cent of our people are either directly or indirectly engaged in agriculture and livestock. And the backbone of our country's economy is agriculture and livestock. Last year the government took some measures to improve agriculture and livestock. In order to fight agricultural disasters, our agricultural experts have distributed medicines pesticides and herbicides to the farmers and gardeners to cope with the various ailments troubling plants and trees in the centre and other provinces of the country.

However, 24 special areas sown to wheat are being managed in 24 provinces of the country and 175,000 kg of approved seeds have been given to farmers. Moreover, approved seeds for spinach and 41,000 plants have distributed among market gardeners. In this respect, the government has also taken some noteworthy measures by way of distributing fertilizers, providing farm machines and reviving of various farms along the Nangarhar canal.

However, some basic efforts have been made to revitalize the government's livestock farms. Nevertheless, veterinary clinics have been established in various provinces of the country, which has really helped in combating animal diseases in state livestock and treating sick animals. In addition to it, animal clinics have started functioning again in the centre and country's provinces.

In the irrigation sector, last year 500 streams and 100 canals were cleaned up. A survey of 20 major irrigation projects has been completed, and measures are being taken to implement them. Furthermore, the Ministry of Rural Development has completed and designed around 150 small and major projects to rehabilitate villages, provide facilities to villagers in various aspects of life in every province of the country with the assistance of government organizations and NGOs. These measures have made a positive impact on life for our countrymen.

Urban and rural services:

Last year the central and provincial municipalities in the country, government organizations, NGOs, UN agencies and some ministries prepared their services to people of some rural and urban regions of the country. In this respect, the municipalities and NGOs have taken part in organizing and cleaning up cities, parks and some other regions. We want to progressively expand this work this year. In some rural and even urban regions, government organizations, NGOs and some UN units have carried out some work to provide clean drinking water. In this respect, services have been made ready to provide 1.5 million people with clean drinking water.

Transport links and power supplies

Furthermore, public transport has been organized in many cities, districts and even remote areas of the country. However, efforts are also being made to improve transport services in cities.

Ariana Afghan, Afghanistan's airline started operating again last year. Three airbuses were donated by the Indian government, and some we had ourselves. However, now our aircraft are flying to some of the country's provinces. Besides our aircraft are making flights to Delhi, Amrasar, Islamabad, Tehran, Istanbul, Frankfurt and the United Arab Emirates., Some foreign airlines have started flights to Kabul. Nonetheless, our people, either at home or abroad, are now able to travel on their own airline.

Last year 26,000 of our pilgrims unprecedently travelled to Baitollah Sharif by Ariana aircraft to perform the Haj. However, it is to be regretted that some of our pilgrims faced difficulties there. Nevertheless, government is investigating this issue, and we are waiting for the results of the investigation.

Despite the recent drought and destruction of the state's power stations, our Afghan engineers have repaired Daronta, Naghlu, Mahipar, Pol-e Khomri, Grishk and some other power stations in the country. In addition to it, issues regarding the power transmission from other countries have been briskly commenced. We completed the power transmission from Tajikistan to Andkhoy and Sheberghan last year. Power lines from Turkmenistan and Iran to Herat Province is constantly under construction, and we are hopeful that it will be completed this year.

Despite all of the difficulties, last year, we had electricity in the capital city and some other major cities, using various sources of power generation. And power distribution system, after many disasters, started moving towards reconstruction last year.

Preservation of human rights

Preservation of the rights of masses and the rights of women:

The government sent high-ranking government authorities to all of the provinces in the country last year to prevent the injustice, cruelty, and lawlessness caused by gunmen and some other officials in the country's provinces. The delegations observed closely the affairs in every province and its districts and examined the security of the highways. They presented detailed reports to the government. And the council of the ministers removed some of the corrupt people from their posts, based on the reports and they took measures to remove all of the factors that caused trouble to people.

In addition to that, the members of the judiciary and justice departments of the government and the law-enforcement and human rights agencies were sent to examined the conditions of the prisoners and all of the minor and major, visible and hidden, male and female jails in the country. Some of them are still engaged in examining the jails.

Telecommunications

Thirty-two as heard provinces in Afghanistan were linked by radio communications. Satellite telephones are now being used in Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar cities. Digital telephone services are also ready in Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat. Codes for Afghan telephone and Internet that were blocked in the Taleban era, have been released and provincial codes have also determined. Now calls can be made to all of the provinces in the country from around the world. The second licence for a mobile phone company was given to a group of four companies based on the international auction, that will start working this year.

Licences have been given to two companies for the provision of Internet services. Postal communications have been developed between Afghanistan and 169 countries in the world and now 440 post offices are operating all over the country. The institute for radio communications has reopened in Kabul and centres of radio communications are operating in four provinces in the country.

Help to invalids and the needy

Millions of people have been martyred in our country due to constant war and disaster in our country and we have a large number of the disabled. The government has instituted a government delegation to find out the exact number of families of martyrs and the actual number of disabled and to resolve their problems. A law was passed to define their rights and to find jobs for the disabled with the cooperation of agencies of international organizations and the United Nations.

The government has supported some 320,000 families of martyrs and the disabled on a normal level and, in some cases, on a higher level within the resources of its framework. In addition to that, something like 40,000 disabled people have been involved in vocational training and provided with medical services.

Nomads (Kochis) are a hardworking and deprived people in our country. In addition to other measures, the government has set up a Council for Nomads at the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to improve their lives. Food has been distributed among 300,000 needy nomads by the coordinated action of ministries and other organizations. Aid has been appropriated for digging deep wells along their travelling routes.

We should mention here that 8m needy people in the country, including the nomads, received the required food for three to nine months last year, which reached 250,000, tonnes in total. Additionally, our three million compatriots have utilized the food and cash programmes in return for physical work last year.

We have a huge number of children without any guardian due to several years of war and destitution, who have no one to look after them. We have orphanages in the capital city Kabul and in 24 of the country's provinces, and those children are brought up and trained at those orphanage.

Various departments of the Ministry of Women's Affairs are striving to restore the rights of women and jobs for them and other social, cultural and political rights. Women's departments have been opened in 20 of the country's provinces. By the grace of the Almighty, lawlessness has been eliminated across the country where Afghan women were whipped in the streets and markets referring to the era of Taleban . The respect for and rights of women in Afghanistan have been restored in different walks of life now.

Looking after the nation's health

Karzai (switches to Dari): Dear compatriots, dear sisters and brothers, our dear and respected compatriots have suffered a lot over the long years, due to lack of medical treatment, lack of hospitals and doctors. They have been taking their patients to the neighbouring countries, experiencing thousands of difficulties living in remote regions of the country, even with minor illnesses. The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan has taken up medical services to assist patients and to prevent the extensive spread of epidemic diseases, despite all of the problems and shortcomings.

With the assistance of the World Health Organization WHO , the donor countries, and other aid agencies, the Ministry of Public Health has started working on equipping and reconstructing hospitals in the capital and in 31 provinces in the country. The Kart-e Say Hospital was opened in Kabul with the capacity of 100 beds and a 20-bed hospital, was opened in the Mohammad Aghah District in Logar Provinces, another 50-bed hospital in the Khunm phonetic in Samangan Province and similarly a 40-bed hospital was opened in the Qala Desert in Takhar Province. Forty-seven medical centres have been set up, 28 medical centres have started their operations in the different regions of the country. Six clinics for the diagnosis of tuberculosis, in some of the districts of the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, and Wardak, have started working for you. The blood banks and the emergency hospital are at the service of the masses in the centre and in a number of the provinces.

Back to school

Education, Higher education, culture and science

In the past year, the doors of schools were reopened to boys and girls, and over three million students, all over the country, returned to 6,000 partly or completely devastated schools, or even some them started getting an education in tents; 83,187 teachers, all over the country, started their duties in these schools. They did not stop teaching the children of this country. I would like to thank the teachers for their vast cooperating. Particular attention was paid to education and vocational training. Some 69 educational centres were established for illiterates and similarly the educational courses for illiterate people and vocational courses began working across the country. And more than 12,000 students are engaged in getting education and other skills. It is worth mentioning that, within the framework of the Ministry of Labour and Social affairs, vocational courses were operational last year. A single syllabus was introduced nationwide last year and some 210 kinds of books were printed in print runs of over 15m each and were handed over to the schools in the country. In addition to the common schools, some 150 religious madrassas religious schools and darulhifaz a school were students memorize the Koran were reconstructed and resume their activities last year. A residential area for teachers was founded in Kabul City. This housing estate will provide homeless people with somewhere to live. I regard it worth mentioning that, after several years of war, the nurseries too started working last year. Over 26,000 male and female students were getting an education at universities and other centres of higher education, in the capital city and provinces last year.

Reconstruction work is in progress, including the above mentioned projects. Kabul Pedagogical Institute was been made into a university and the Afghan University, which was previously working in Peshawar, has been transferred to Khost. Now that is working in that province. The Turkish language departments at Kabul University, the Department of Dari Language in Nangarhar Province and departments of Pashto languages have been set up at the universities of Herat and Balkh.

Steps have been taken to restore the press, bookstores, educational material and other educational equipment, and the buildings.

To renew the knowledge of teachers, 120 university teachers in the country and 220 officials of the Education Ministry benefited from short term and long term scholarships last year and, according to a Ministry of Planning report, more education scholarships were given to Afghanistan by friendly countries last year.

Culture and the media

By implementing the press and political parties law last year, cultural activities in the capital and some provinces in private and government sectors took off.

Last year, most of the dailies, journals and magazines resumed publication in the capital and provinces. The daily Arman-e Melli was established, Anis became a daily again, the daily Islah began its third stage of publication, and publications belonging to ministries and NGOs also resumed publication. The government printing presses in the capital and provinces came out of the state of decline and gradually resumed their activities. A number of government print works have been computerized.

Radio and Television networks in the capital and provinces have started operating again. The Programmes of Radio Afghanistan have been expanded. In addition to Pashto and Dari languages, programmes are being broadcast in local languages. To further coordinate and reform the radio and television programmes, a special commission has started working.

The National Gallery, the National Archives, the National Museum and the public libraries have been reopened in Kabul. In the provinces too, work has been done as far as possible to revive museums and public libraries. The work of reconstruction and revival of the historical relics has taken off. Reconstruction work on a number of historic relics in Kabul and some provinces has begun and reconstruction work of eight sites of historical importance has started.

The National Archives of Afghanistan have resumed the process of purchasing historical treasures and the Baihaqi Publication Organization has programmes to revive its publication capacities. The more important thing is that the decree to establish the National Institute of Archaeology of Afghanistan was issued in order to coordinate and harmonize the excavation activities, archaeological research, museums, galleries and archives of Afghanistan and to find out the historical treasures of Kabul and organize the work in this respect. The Afghan cultural centre in Peshawar and the cultural sections in some

Afghan embassies abroad have been activated.

Cultural activities in the private sector in the country are also showing progress, which is the implication of the spread of democracy and the strengthening of its democratic institution in Afghanistan. Currently, 170 publications including magazines, dailies and journals are being published by individuals and cultural and social institutions all over the country and some of them have publications in the country's provinces, too. Research organizations and the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan gradually started reconstruction of their institutions last year. The Pashto International Research Centre and the Koshani Research Centre, which are being supported by UNESCO have once again resumed their activities after many years of recession and regained their prestige. The country's research publications have begun their publications in Dari, Pashto, English, German, French, Russian and Arabic. The Ethnography Museum of Afghanistan has been approved within the structure of the Academy of Sciences, and work to revive the Ariana Dairatolmuarif dictionary in Pashto and Dari languages has been undertaken.

International, regional and national research seminars have been held by cultural institutions and the ministries in the capital and provinces. To develop arts, research and artworks and sciences, the state has appointed a delegation to harmonize the salary scales in the present circumstances.

Foreign relations

The country's foreign relations:

Thanks be to God Almighty that after many years of political isolation, Afghanistan once again joined the international community as a solid and respectable member last year and established relations with the countries of the world. At the present time, more than 65 countries and international institutions have political agencies in our county. The political agencies of Afghanistan are active in some countries. Seven embassies and four consulates have been added to the structure of the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan. During the Year 1381 solar year 2002-2003 , 94 senior delegations and heads of different countries visited Afghanistan. Similarly, senior delegations of the Afghan government made visits to different countries. The national and international prestige of Afghanistan has been regained and the nations of the world respect our country and people today and now the Afghan passport is valued all over the world.

The country's foreign policy is based on mutual respect, non-interference in others' affairs, respecting the stability, territorial integrity, political sovereignty, national recognition and maintaining friendly relations with all the countries of the world. Afghanistan desires strong and transparent friendly relations with all the countries of the world, particularly the neighbouring countries and the Islamic countries.

We have established friendly relations with many countries of the world for reconstruction, development and bolstering the country's economic, political, social and cultural institutions of the country and for attraction of aid and cooperation and we give great priority to establishment of relations in every sector with our neighbours. We assure all our neighbours that Afghanistan will observe peaceful norms of coexistence and good neighbourliness and would always remain a genuine friend to its neighbours. We expect our neighbours to behave in a similar manner. The Kabul declaration, which was passed at the conference of foreign ministers of the neighbours of Afghanistan in the month of Jadi December-January last year, was a positive and effective step towards bolstering friendly relations with our neighbours. We believe that our neighbours will respect the declaration.

Government shortcomings

Dear countrymen,

I am putting the achievements of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan in words very briefly and precisely and making you aware about everything in general. All the ministries and independent departments have prepared their progress reports in detail and will be published them in the Annual Publication of Afghanistan, which has resumed its publication after an interval of 10-years pause, to further inform our countrymen. Similarly, the ministers would give their own progress reports to the nation. The report that I presented to you dear countrymen was a report on the work done by government bodies. I should mention that last year the government performance also had shortcomings and flaws. It is my responsibility to inform my countrymen about the shortcomings.

The process of forming the National Army proceeded slowly last year. As you know, the training of the young recruits to the National Army started during the interim administration, but it had not produce results that could meet the expectations of people.

Our work to reform the police system and establish a national police force had many flaws. We could not put together a single skilled and professional police battalion to prevent demonstrations and in the past year two tragic incidents involving harsh police behaviour with regard to students have occurred. One occurred at the Polytechnic institute and the other with students of Kabul University during Ramadan the Islamic month of fasting , which still troubles my soul.

The collection of arms from irresponsible forces has continued in many parts of the county, but this procedure has not been satisfactory.

The government has not managed to do anything to reform the civil administration! Bribery has continued in all government departments, municipalities and security agencies and several customs institutions with full effect, and the law-enforcement and public rights agencies have failed to stop bribery.

The rule of the gun has not been wiped out in all parts of the country. We witnessed that robbers and thieves used uniforms and security posts and had established checkpoints on the public highways and extorted money from passengers and tradesman. They have caused people trouble and appropriated state revenues. Despite all the many efforts made by the state, still state revenues from across Afghanistan are not being transferred to the capital.

Commissions have been set up to improve the affairs of different sections of the departments and the government institutions, but they have failed to achieve anything.

There has not been any significant progress made within the government when it comes to cadres either. Personal relations still count for more than rules and regulation when selecting cadres, appointing and transferring them. And the assessment of performance at government institutions has been critically weak with respect to government cadres and it still is.

Still some of the persecutors have illegally snatched the shops, flats, residences, and land of a number of our compatriots. Departments of preserving the rights of the masses could not return the properties to their original owners.

Cutting down the woodland continued last year, and effective measures were not taken to prevent this action. Lawlessness, violation of the rules and regulations continued in the provinces and the capital city. And all those unfair activities, harmful to the nation, have marred the process of promoting the governance and dominance of the government departments. A number of NGOs, that work in different walks of life and are supported by donor countries and international organizations, which allows them to render services in the country, have worked on useful projects. But we still have no clear way of and solution for coordinating and improving their performance, and having transparent statistics for the Afghan nation.

Regrettably, for various reasons 300,000 of our destitute compatriots are living a miserable life in displaced persons' camps inside the country, especially in the western and southwestern regions. However, the government and our international coordinators provided them with urgent humanitarian assistance last year, including food, clothing, fuel and medical services. They still have not yet been returned to their homes.

In conclusion

Dear sisters and brothers, as you know, we had achievements, but also some aspects of our affairs were flawed and defective last year. Despite the difficulties that are hindering us, our vision for the construction of an independent, prosperous, honoured, respected and affluent country is still firm. Tough measures will be taken this year to achieve this target. Our major target is to enforce the law and order situation, peace and stability, and the dominance of the democratic system on a national level. The lack of absolute security and peace, have been the factor holding back reconstruction in the country. The government has taken measures to enforce countrywide security and liberate people from evil warlords.

The enforcement of disarmament, demilitarization and the participation of militant personnel in the affairs of society, will be announced this year. Their financial resources, which are over 125m dollars, are also to be determined. It is planned that before 15 Sowr 5 May their relevant offices will be ready. From the 15 Sowr 5 May till the end of Jawza May , the equipment and their accessories will be ready and the foundation work on the programme would start on the 1st Saratan 22 June . The programme that is supported by Japan and the United Nations and will be implemented countrywide in several stages. It will shortly be started in two or three provinces, and arms will be collected by 100,000 armed people, including all of the armed forces and the existing government forces.

The implementation of this programme would play a key role in ensuring the peace process. The course of training the youngsters in the National Army, which will be supported by the United States of America, will be stepped up. Most of the donor countries have expressed complete support in this respect. The proposals on the reform of the police and frontier forces would be implemented with the assistance of Germany according to a decree that was signed this week.

The police training centre with a capacity of 7,000 police personnel has been taken into account, which will gradually provide to capital city and other provinces with professional and experienced forces.

A well equipped radio communications system between the capital city and all of the other provinces will be established this year, which will enable the capital to learn about the events happening in every corner of the country as soon as possible.

The comprehensive modification and equipping of the national security forces are included in the country's foundation programmes this year. Subordinated to the security issue, another of the government's basic priorities is the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged government institutions. The government has received only 30 per cent of the pledged assistance last year. It is planned that most of the assistance would be transferred directly to the government this year, and that would be spent on reconstruction in the country with due consent.

The reconstruction of the highways in Kabul will be seriously undertaken this year. Attention to the reconstruction of the irrigation system and the dams, restoring the major irrigation projects and hydropower generation are among our priorities.

The government is to pay particular attention to the special sector for improving the standard of living of the masses, and the provision of employment. The government will remain committed to all of its pledges to attract internal and foreign investments, will provide the opportunity for work and activities across the country for the special investors and internal and foreign capitalists. I am hopeful that those who have obtained commercial and manufacturing license would start their work this year.

By the grace of the Almighty, the abundance of snowfall and rain has reduced the various problems of the farmers and gardeners all over the country. The government will support farmers and market gardeners who practice mechanized agriculture, clear the dams, canals and brooks, campaign against the animal illnesses and the plant pests.

The programme of national unanimity is one of the government's major programmes. This programme was started in five provinces in the country to ensure the rights of every Afghan village in the reconstruction and expansion. I hope that the programme will start in the next three to four months. The point is that within the three to four years something like 1m afghanis will be allocated, so that people will be able to propose and implement small reconstruction and expansion programmes based on common consent. For the improvement of the lives of government personnel, the government will reshuffle the civil departments. The first stage of the survey in the country will be completed by the end of this year to obtain the required information and to improvement the economic, social and political development in the country.

The ordinary budget of the government this year has been estimated at 24.7bn afghanis. We are hopeful that 9bn afghanis will be generated from the internal sources, and the rest, 15.7bn afghanis, will be transferred from foreign assistance. The government is striving to get the internal revenues transferred to the capital city from across the country this year, so that the money that has been expected from the internal sources will be obtained in full in this way.

Government enterprises are in the worst conditions, and in most of the cases they are a burden on the government. The government will take some effective measures to enhance and reshuffle the system of the enterprises.

The government has appropriated a notable amount for education, to improve the state of education this year.

The government is planning to enhance the ability of the Ministry of Health and other health departments to expand medical services and improve public health and the campaign against the fatal and epidemic diseases, so that in emergencies they will be able to assist our compatriots. The number of clinics will be expanded, and our hospitals will be equipped with machinery and medicines and it has also been planned to set up mobile clinics for nomads. The government, with the assistance of friendly countries especially England, has taken tough measures to prevent poppy cultivation and the production of narcotics, and will implement practical programmes to safeguard the environment.

My dear compatriots, in conclusion of this report, I consider it my duty to express my gratitude to all of the donor countries, the United Nations Organization, especially His Excellency Lakhdar Brahimi UN special envoy for Afghanistan , and other non-governmental organizations that have assisted Afghanistan.

I would also like to express my deep concern about sad incidents like the recent cruel murder of one of the members of the Red Crescent as received, Red Cross International Committee. I would like to convey my sympathies to his family and the workers of the Red Crescent. God Bless you.