President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday reiterated his stance on reforms in government institution, asking religious scholars to play a proactive role in the peace process.
Speaking in the lower house before introducing cabinet nominees for a vote of confidence, he stressed greater coordination and cooperation between the three pillars of the government.
Ghani said better utilisation of the vast water resources and geographic position of the country was atop his agenda to strengthen the economy.
He acknowledged ulema could play a major role in promoting the peace process. “Our ulema can indeed do more in this regard than our security forces.” Without social justice and equality, it would be difficult to bring about the rule of law.
Ghani insisted that focus on securing border provinces and districts was a necessity. “Ninety-four districts in 20 provinces border our neighbours. They are on main focus, because without securing them we will not be able to stabilise the country.”
He said the war had been imposed on Afghans. “We will not allow anybody including Syrians or Iraqis to play with our fate,” Ghani said, referring to the Islamic State (IS) fighters and their followers.
Ministries of defence and interior, he said, had $4.5 billion budget and their contracts would be awarded to Afghans only. “Resource section of these ministries would come under civilian control and I will personally sign and oversee major contracts.”
He acknowledged challenges existed in the area of infrastructure development but the government was working on plans to form special departments responsible for the control of vital projects to cut costs and contain graft in contracts.
He said domestic products would be given priority over imported goods. Afghanistan’s imports are 30 fold more than its exports.
According to Ghani, despite being an agrarian society, Afghanistan imported 40 to 60 percent of vegetable and fruits and called the situation unacceptable.
Afghanistan needed to become a regional transit hub in the next 20 years. “Our location should be changed to gold,” he remarked.
He also called for programmes to help 1.5 million internally displaced people. He assured after five years Afghanistan would not have any IDP. Ghani acknowledged 36 percent of the population lived below the poverty line and no tangible improvement could be seen in the situation. He said it was the government’s duty to address the challenges.
The president assured lawmakers he had tried his best to pick a balanced cabinet. He said any minister who did not perform well during first six months in office would be asked to resign.