Karzai Lauds New Era for Afghanistan During Georgetown Address
January 11, 2013 – Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a Georgetown audience this afternoon that his country’s relationship with the United States is entering a new era after the bilateral security agreement made with President Barack Obama earlier in the day.
Karzai visited Washington, D.C., this week at Obama’s invitation.
Earlier today, the two leaders announced details of the transition of Afghanistan’s security detail from U.S. to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. The agreement means that U.S. troops will move to a supporting role in training and assisting Afghan forces starting this spring.
Progress Required Help
Speaking in Georgetown’s historic Gaston Hall, Karzai said Afghanistan’s relationship with the United States, though strained at times, has been beneficial for both countries’ security and prosperity.
“Afghanistan could not have made the progress it made in the last 10 years without the help that we received from our allies led by the United States of America,” Karzai said during a talk titled “Afghanistan beyond 2014: A Perspective on Afghan-U.S. Relations.”
This was Karzai’s third visit to Georgetown. He received an honorary degree from the university in September 2006 and attended the Afghanistan-America Summit on Recovery and Reconstruction in July 2002.
A Working Partnership
Karzai said despite difficulties in the bilateral relationship over the last decade, the people of Afghanistan ultimately want and need to partner with the United States to secure a prosperous future.
“The relationship continued out of a reality that Afghanistan would always be better off in close contact and partnership with the United States,” he said. “So is the future certainly good for us? Does it have dangers on its way? Are we certain to move forward? Will this partnership work? Yes.”
After delivering his remarks, Karzai answered student questions posted on Facebook and from representatives of four Georgetown student groups – The International Relations Club, the Georgetown Student Veterans Association, the Lecture Fund and the Muslim Student Association.
TM Gibbons-Neff (C’15), president of the student veterans group, asked what Karzai would “say to an American family that has lost a son or daughter in Afghanistan and what would you say they died for.”
Neff was twice deployed to Afghanistan.
“The United States came to Afghanistan for the security of the United States and by extension the rest of the world and also for Afghans,” Karzai answered. “Those unfortunate incidents of lives lost in Afghanistan were for the safety and security of the United States for the American people and also by extension for the rest of us in the international community.”
Helping Afghan Women, Children
The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council co-sponsored the event.
Since 2008, Georgetown has been home to the council, a public-private partnership created in 2002 by Karzai and then-President George W. Bush.
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia chairs the council along with Melanne Verveer (I’66, G’69), the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Zalmai Rassuol, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister; and Husn Banu Ghazanfar, Minister of Women’s Affairs.
Dr. Phyllis Magrab, director of Georgetown’s Center for Child and Human Development, serves as vice-chair of the council. Mrs. Laura Bush serves as Honorary Advisor in reflection of her continued commitment to Afghan women and girls.
The council connects U.S. and Afghan governments, private sector organizations, academia and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement initiatives in support of Afghan women and children.
DeGioia said during his introduction of Karzai that council initiatives implemented over the years have included the creation of scholarships for students and providing skills, health care, literacy and leadership training for women.
These have produced improvements that include increased educational opportunities for Afghan children, a reduced maternal mortality rate and increased communication infrastructure coverage, he said.
“We wish to ensure that these successes are sustained, built upon and expanded into the future and we also recognize that much more must be done,” DeGioia said. “We look forward to working together with our partners in both the public and private sectors to continue to see improvements in the lives of Afghan women and children – and the Afghan people as a whole.”