Kandahar now free from parallel set-ups: Ghani
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday met with civil society and youth representatives in southern Kandahar province, saying parallel governments no longer existed in the province.
The president, who arrived here with a high-level delegation, addressed a huge gathering at the governor’s house and later met with civil society activists and youth representatives.
Interior Minister Noorul Haq Ulumi, Information and Culture Minister Abdul Bari Jehani, a number of high ranking officials, lawmakers and tribal elders attended the gathering at the governor’s house.
In response to their proposals, the president said the provincial governor would complete the first phase of reforms over the next two weeks.
He said deep and drastic reforms would be carried out in the province and would be advanced in line with the established rules because officials removed from departments would be replaced in order to avoid any vacuum.
The president said his effort was to help government departments reach maturity like the cabinet, adding that youth would be provided jobs in provinces and districts and educated youth would be enabled to participate in elections as candidates.
Ghani also briefed the activists about his government’s initial performance, saying the focus had been on security. The president said he had been working with the ministries of defence and interior to bring about reforms.
Due these efforts, the president said, the Afghan forces despite being under-resourced were able to go to areas where foreign troops had been unable to go with their advanced resources.
He said the first 100 days were the days of reforms in the ministries and the next 100 days would be the days of changes for governors and judicial departments.
He said the reforms would be implemented in line with the country’s laws. “From now on, there are no parallel governments in Kandahar and the governor is my special representative,” the president said.
As part of the reforms, the president said ministers and governors would hold regular meetings. He said the government had funds but the problem was the ability how to better use them, saying ministries had so far spent 17 percent of their budgets during the past six months. “This is the biggest failure.”
The president said there had been problems in the ministries. For example, he said, surveys for the construction of dams were carried out through foreign firms, but the surveys were not acceptable to the international community and the World Bank.
Calling educated youth a precious asset, the president said currently 17000 students in India and 18000 in Iran were busy pursuing higher education. He said a list of these students was being prepared to chase them and appoint them on jobs.
About Afghanistan economic development, the president said a huge financial resource existed from Herat to Kandahar and that was water.
In summers, the value of water exceeded that of gold, said the president, who added an organised plan had been devised to mange water and he was trying to implement the plan.
“From Herat to Kandahar, the gas, railways, fiber optics, water, electricity and transmission lines projects will be executed simultaneously and in this regard talks had taken place with Tajikistan. It will happen. Then Pakistan will need Afghanistan to find its way to Europe.”
The president said Afghanistan was generous but its people lived in poverty.“There are huge gas deposits in Helmand and Paktika. Previously it was thought the country’s largest iron ore deposits exist in Logar, but it has been discovered the largest one exist in Kandahar.” The president said special gold mines were found from Zabul to Kandahar.
Ghani said the incumbent mines minister was highly capable and experienced person. He said there had been corruption in the mines ministry, which had been prevented and all contracts suspended.
The president called for patience to see the reforms were implemented, saying 80 percent of time was consumed by the conflict and security related issues.
Had he not prioritised security at the beginning, now districts would have been falling one after another and would have prevented the reforms from being enforced, Ghani said. He said he remembered all his promises with the nation and would work hard to honour them one after another.
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