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Translation of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Remarks at the Inauguration Ceremony of Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam

June 4, 2016

Herat, Afghanistan

 In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Your Excellency Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the friendly and esteemed India,

I sincerely welcome you and your accompanying delegation to your second home, Afghanistan, especially in the historic province of Herat; allow me to thank you on behalf of the people of Afghanistan, people of Herat, and residents of Chisht-e-Sharif. I present my profound gratitude to you, to the compassionate people and competent government of India, especially on behalf of my people who will have their homes illuminated by the light of the Afghan-India Friendship Dam and their lands greened with its water. Today, with your help, an old dream of our people is realized after more than 40 years of waiting. Thank you!

Let me send prayers and blessings upon the soul of late President Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan who more than forty years ago laid the foundation for this magnificent dam so that Afghans after him live in prosperity. Let me also send prayers upon the souls of each one of the soldiers, officers and engineers who sacrificed their lives, so that today we stand witness to the completion of this grand project; and I thank all the caring officials whose efforts have born fruit today.

Here, I would like to thank Mr. Mohammad Ismail Khan who, going back to his years serving as the Governor of Herat, entertained this hope as well as Dr. Humayoon Qayomi, Eng. Ali Ahmad Usmani who along with his hardworking colleagues in the Ministry of Energy and Water had a vital role in bringing this project to fruition.

Chisht-e-Sharif has 600-year old ties with Agra and Delhi. The Shrine of Khwaja Nizamudin is still open to peoples of all faiths. Jalaluddin Akbar, Mughal-Azzam, the reformist king of India, had taken inspiration on his ways and customs from the Chishtia Order. It is the necessity of our time that the Chishtia, Naqshbandia, Qadria, Saharwardia and other Urfani schools of thoughts are cared for, so that the peaceful nature of our religion reveals it shining truth, through the dust and fog created by extremists.

Afghanistan and India have long and continued relations and today millions of ties bind our nations together.  Since 10thcentury (lunar Hijri), Herat has been destroyed eight times but each time, it has risen above the ruins, proudly standing before history with unwavering determination. Herat is the cradle of culture, knowledge, wisdom and civilization. Masters like Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Peer Herat, Khwaja Mohaiodeen Chishti and Khwaja Qutbuddin Mawdud Chishti, the great carriers of knowledge and pioneers of Chishtia order as well as Mawlana Abdul Rahman Jami, the renowned poet and mystic of Naqshebandia Order, Imam Fakhruddin Razi, great prolocutor of Islam, and hundreds of masters of thought and literature have been brought up in the caring lap of this country; they have lived under its cool shade or found comfort in its warm arms.

Herat, with its ancient history and knowledge, art and literature-nurturing people, encapsulates yesterday’s and today’s Afghanistan, showing a broad horizon towards the tomorrow of this country.

Herat has been one of the great centers of Urfan in our history. Urfan and Tassawuf (mysticism) is one of the dozens of broad areas that connect Afghanistan and India. Architectural beauties, artistic creations by creative painters and calligraphers of Herat, Kabul, Balkh and Kabul, in different eras, and their pleasant affinities to the artistic beauties of India, is another sign of inspiration from one spiritual source and illumination by one source of light. The music and melodies by artists of both countries, emitting joy and bliss, are all signs of the coming together of great human talents in an exalted realm where colors turn colorless, separations give way to unions, and differences become similitudes.

Our relationship with India has various aspects. In the past, our cities had gates named after cities in India. We have a popularly acclaimed style in literature called Hindi.  The prominent face of this style is Abdul Qadir Bedil, the renowned Arif (mystic) and poet of Delhi School, the person whom to this day Afghan poets and scholars look up to as a standard-bearer in poetic style and understanding of high concepts. In politics, our quests for independence and freedom have influenced each other. Also, the first Indian Government in Exile was formed in Afghanistan, and reformist movements of Afghanistan after the 1940s were inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Abdul Kalam Azad.

In the same way as our ancestors strove and managed to fulfill their great missions, despite the difficult times, to keep the torch of knowledge alight, the garden of wisdom watered, the spring of spirituality ebullient, and to pave the path for their offspring to reach high human life, we too have come together today to celebrate an auspicious occasion of cooperation between the two countries, to renew the ancient covenant, to keep this great heritage alive and to eternalize these enduring ties.

The assistance of the people and government of India in constructing this splendid dam in Chisht-e-Sharif restitutes the ancient ties of Herat and India; it also further strengthens today’s ties between our two countries on the level of nations and states.

Therefore, this dam, in addition to its vital function of bringing light, joy and hope to the homes of thousands of Afghans in the area, also has a symbolic role in charting a new course that is the need of the world and region in the twenty first century: (that is) the course of cooperation for prosperity, for better utilization of natural resources, for better protection and preservation of environment, green spaces and water resources, for leaving behind the days of drought and parched lands, and for putting an end to the sufferings of men and women struck by adversity.

This means that we can partake in spreading hope, light and sincerity, not fear, intimidation and ignorance; I mean, saying goodbye to obsolete policies inherited from the past, especially the cold war era, and opening a new page in history for this region, a page of harmony, compassion and solidarity, a page of peace, reconciliation and toleration.

That is why we are immensely thankful to India for presenting to us a new model whose essence is constructiveness, cooperation and participation in spreading prosperity. It is for this reason that today the name of India in our country and region brings back sweet, historic and cherished memories. The people of Afghanistan see today’s India through the prism of the beautiful and splendid parliament building a meaningful and exquisite gift from the largest democracy of the world to our young democracy. Our people identify India with Delaram-Zaranj highway that is a connecting route for development of businesses and commerce in our parts of the country that had remained deprived of development; and today they know India through Salma, a source of light and joy for thousands of our families. In addition, India has completed over 200 other small and big projects for our people. With scholarships assistance by India, over 17 thousand Afghan youth were able to acquire education that will undeniably help us sustain the friendly relations between our countries. Today, our youth playing cricket look up to Indian Cricketers as standard-bearers. Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Prime Minister!  Today, India means brilliance, greenery and Nirvana for us.

With the inauguration of Afghan-India Friendship Dam, the first generation of large Indian assisted projects is completed, and the hope is to see at the right moment the launch of the second generation of such large and sustainable projects.

We, the two sides, have a firm conviction and resolve that prosperity and progress of each country means the prosperity and progress of the other. As our past history is shared, we have a shared ‘today’ and will have a shared ‘tomorrow’. We fortunately have a common vision to build this shared future. Terrorism is the major cancer in the region where Afghanistan finds itself on the frontline of fighting it. The need of our region is that we come up with a common definition of terrorism and be on the same page and front to fight it; this is the only way for shared prosperity of our nations.

Afghanistan will not be stopped here. We are determined to move forward in spite of the challenges and difficulties. This determination exists in every single son and daughter of this land. It is for this reason that despite the sacrifices by our brave sons and daughters against terrorism and extremism and the heavy cost of war that we have born, with the passing of each day, we take a new step in the direction of development and prosperity. This means that the resolve of our patient nation does not falter in the face of threats and that the torch of hope that is alight in the hearts of our people does not accept to be put out.

Here, I want to give the good news to my people that ‘Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam’ is the prologue to construction of a series of dams that we have undertaken so that our other provinces too have access to electricity, water, food and work.  We will manage our water and water resources in accordance with the international laws to prevent floods hitting our homes and people. We also want our waters to reach the heart of our draught-hit deserts, which for years carried the autumnal pain of barrenness.

We are conscious of the difficulty of the path, and we know that destroying is easy and building is difficult. Contrary to those whose main art is destroying and sending messages of destruction, we have taken the difficult responsibility of building prosperity, and we resolutely believe that the front of prosperity triumphs over the front of destruction since building is right and destroying is wrong; hope is right and hopelessness is wrong; seeking peace is right and seeking war is wrong, and we all believe that right triumphs over wrong. Our people’s determination to build a better future is steely. We are not alone on this path. We have divine sanction to build our people’s homes; then, we have support of the world and region with us; and we have beside us peace-loving and pro-prosperity countries like India that feels happy with our happiness and sad with our sadness. We too shall be and remain a partner, in warm and cold days, for those who want prosperity.

Long Live Afghanistan-India Friendship

Long live the green path of building prosperity and cooperation!

Source: Office of the President

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