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Bamyan, the first Cultural Capital of SAARC
Bamyan Province in central Afghanistan was formally introduced on Friday as the Cultural Capital of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for 2015.
There are many positive news making opportunities in Afghanistan that can divert the media attention from war. Naming Bamyan as the Cultural Capital of SAARC is a clear example. 
During a ceremony declaring Bamyan as the Cultural Capital of SAARC, Afghan Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, said that the decision to mark Bamyan as SAARC's Cultural Capital for 2015 is one of country's biggest achievements in recent years.  He also called on SAARC members and other countries to help Afghanistan return Bamyan to its rightful place in history.
Analysts believe that Afghan media should highlight such magnificent events and make such events as the tops stories rather that paying attention to war issues.  Promoting this good news is the job of every Afghan citizen.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and geopolitical organization of eight countries; Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The SAARC policies aim to promote welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate socio-cultural development in the region.
Marking Bamyan as the Cultural Capital of SAARC is a good accomplishment for the National Unity Government in terms of cultural issues.  Bamyan Province has several famous historical sites besides the famous Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-i-Amir National Park, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran.
Afghanistan became the eighth member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
National Unity Government Senior Communicators Conference held in Kabul
Afghan National Unity Government Senior Communicators’ Conference was held at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) here in Kabul today.  This two-day conference which began today is aimed to focus on more coordination and cooperation between Afghan Government spokespersons.   Spokespersons of National Unity Government (NUG), Provincial Governors, Chiefs of Police, ANA units, and as well as Afghan Ministries’ spokespersons were invited to this conference to communicate their problems while transferring information to media and learn how to develop a better coordination. 
Key speakers at this conference were: Feridun Ilham, Deputy Director of Administrative Affairs Office for Public Affairs of the President, Ajmal Abed Abedi, Afghan President’s Spokesperson, Simen Hassanzada, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, Mujib-u-Rahman Rahimi, Spokesperson to NUG Chief Executive Office, General Azimi, MOD Spokesperson, Sayed Sami Sadaat, NDS head of Communications, ISAF Director of Strategic Communications and U.S. Embassy Spokesperson in Kabul.
At the opening speech, Mr. Sefatullah Safi, Director of GMIC briefed the audience about the importance of this conference.  He stated that Senior Government Communicators Conference is held every six month and this is the third conference of its kind.  Mr. Safi highlighted the role of GMIC in holding such conferences on coordination of messages between government spokesperson and mentioned that GMIC has always been a reliable and active center—serving as a hub for message coordination.  He added that sending unified messages to the public increase the confidence of people in NUG and bridge the gap between the government and the public.
Mr. Ilham, the second speaker, during his speech, highlighted the important and vital role of message coordination between NUG spokespersons.  He said, his office, which leads and runs all NUG public affairs programs, is drafting a clear strategy for all NUG communications which will hold responsible all government spokespersons to update the media about the NUG activities at all levels, so that the people of Afghanistan have a clear clue and picture of what NUG is doing.   He called on all spokesperson that they should be available to media 24/7 and deliver the NUG stance through unified and clear messages to the public.  He underlined the important role played by GMIC in this regard.
Presidential Spokesperson Abedi stated that winning the hearts and minds of people is one of our main tasks.  He said Afghanistan is moving toward the right direction and injecting this message into the minds of people is the main job of Afghan government communicators.  He addressed all the communicators and said “You have to serve as a bridge between the NUG and the public.”
Mr. Rahimi said that Afghanistan is in a critical time as new security threats are emerging.  He said government communicators are the voice and image of the NUG and should develop the relationship between the government and the public.  He added that the achievements of the NUG should be communicated in a way that the ground realities of our society are not ignored.
It is worth mentioning that this conference has three parts: Coordination, training, and messaging which will last for two days.  Organizing such conferences will be very effective in sending a coordinated and unified message to the people of Afghanistan.
Furthermore, holding such events on “message coordination” is a key step forward in the area of communications in the Afghan Government, and this conference is a good initiative by the Government Media and Information Center during this important period ahead of spring.   We urge the Afghan Government spokespersons across Afghanistan to act more coordinated and provide unified messages to the people of Afghanistan.
Transcript of Statement by President Ghani at 51st Munich Security Conference
February 8, 2015
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I am the elected President of a 99.9% Muslim country, a country where 38% of the electorate were women, where in order to participate, people had to face cutting  of their fingers. I bring, first, couple of stories to you and then connect to the themes of the Conference.

On June, 2014 , a man with a tractor who would not allow his woman to get out of his house for 40 years,  took forty trips on a tractor to get the women to vote , because legitimacy in my country now comes from the ballot.

On December 16th, 2014, our children playing volleyball were massacred in cold blood and when I called their parents, they told me they have the resolve of steel to stand up to the threats of terror, that they want peace, a peace to enable their children to go to school and become like me, pleased with the word, firmly anchored in our great civilization, and committed to equal rights.

And two weeks ago, we had 4000 Ulemma, these are religious scholars, uniformly they supported the Afghan national army and endorsed our security compact with the United States and our Status of Force Agreement with NATO.

We, ladies and gentlemen, speak for true Islam, for the believes of people and for the aspirations of the future generations. Daesh [ISIL], al-Qaida and the rest of the networks are the aberrations and we must have the courage to be able to speak for the absolute majority,  but in order to speak for them, we must deliver but before that, let me first, Ambassador Ischinger, thank you and thank the members of NATO-ISAF, particularly the United States, European colleagues and others.

Over four thousand of your citizens, men and women, lost their lives in our country, close to a million people served in rotations, we honored that sacrifice and that sacrifice is not going  to be in vain, the Resolute Support Mission that began on January 1, 2015 has been approved by the majority of the two Houses of the Parliament of Afghanistan and it’s a platform for future cooperation.

Together, there is substantial amount that we can do, but what is the nature of the threat?  I would like to speak of the ecology of terror, terror has become a system in a distinctive ecology.  And fortunately, Afghanistan where our successes have made us not be headlines, because when will the media report on a success,  is still the focal point of the media of this ecology.

Pakistan’s operations in North and South Waziristan, have had  a displacement effect, where the center of gravity is shifted to Afghanistan. Daesh [ISIL] is fast moving to stage four of its classic pattern, namely organizing, orienting, deciding and acting. The threat of this ecology is global but Afghanistan is the meeting ground of this global ecology, lest we forget this and take our eyes elsewhere, there will be consequences.

This is not to say that we are not committed , the world does not owe us, we must first take the responsibility to reorganize and we are. The reform programs that we have embarked on are substantial, focused, and their key goal is to honor the electorate. In terms of the idea, we have done what has been unprecedented, namely a victor in an election not claiming the prize, but forming a government of national unity so that all the electorate would be represented. Political consensus is the first basis of moving forward and we are moving forward.

Second, we have engaged the region. Our active diplomacy has brought a series of trilateral relationship, the most significant of which has been China, United States and Afghanistan. Equally, our engagement with Pakistan has been intense, comprehensive and hopefully in quiet. We do not make announcements, we look for outcomes. And we are hopeful that there will be outcomes that will make results that will be game changers in our part of the world. We have engaged our Central Asian neighbors, and soon we will have witnessed the birth of the Lapis lazuli route, a route that would connect Afghanistan to Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

We have engaged all members of five circles of our foreign policy, and here particularly again I would like to thank the United States and the framework nations of Germany, Italy, Turkey, UK and other members who are contributing to the Resolute Support Mission.

But on the ecology of terror, our focus is country by country rather than on  understanding the ecological system. Our response system is slow, because we really don’t understand networks. We take the threats individually rather than systemically. And it is very important not to isolate the events from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya from what is unfolding in Afghanistan and South Asia. Because the threats from the network perspective are becoming stronger, the state response is, unfortunately, weaker.

I am glad to see the concept of hybrid warfare make it into Munich Security Conference’s vocabulary. We have suffered from this practice, so I’d like to call attention to one feature that is not part of the vocabulary yet, “criminality”. Deep networks of criminality are a driver of conflict. Most of the time when we focus on peace, we focus on the ideologues, on the discourse, on formation of networks of discursive understanding.

The key question is who finances the conflict and who benefits from it? It is not that the discourse discursive part is unimportant, but without understanding the deep roots of financing. The global criminal economy is worth 1.7 trillion a year, and the criminalization of part of Afghanistan’s economy is certainly among the top 20 contributors to this.

So, in terms of response, we need compacts for stability and prosperity and this must address four levels; one is at the national level. What enables terrorism to thrive and instability to prevail, is when the citizen is not in the center stage. The Afghan citizen does not live in the 16th century, 18th or 19th. She lives in the 21st century and aspirations of the 21st century. Her participation in the election must be honored by honoring the election and the democratic system and not dismissing.

Of course, it is taking a long time for one of the poorest countries on earth to become fully stable, but the intention in the engagement of the citizen must be taken.

Second, regional – in the region we have had a practice, where states, if provided sanctuary to non-state actors, and or where they have sponsored, where states have sponsored non-state actors deliberately to undermine the security of a neighbor. I hope that it becomes clear that those days are over.

Third, the Islamic level – there is a struggle for the soul of Islam, for who speaks for this great civilization, and we must not remain silent. Silence is no longer an option in face of the barbarity of killing the Jordanian soldier or the Japanese hostage or others.

And fourth is global – our global institutions are slow. They are product of mid 20th century, geared to response to conditions of the  20th century. Without a global architecture that responds to the conditions of 2015, we will always be not two steps behind, Mr. Alisa but ten steps behind. So we do hope that at the global level, we can reorient.

But my last message, and thank you for the opportunity, is one of hope. We will overcome all these difficulties, because Afghans have a unique space in Islamic history. No one in the 20th century has paid a higher price, sacrificed as much, and suffered as much for defending our faith against the Soviet invasion for standing for what is right, for aspiring to generate and contribute to order.

Based on that record, now the people of Afghanistan are ready, not to just open a new page, but to begin a new book, a book of cooperation, understanding and engagement. Our location, our water resources, our mineral resources, our entrepreneurial energies, all allow us to hope for a different day.

We hope that you will remain engaged, and committed and that we all together can participate in inclusive global order where we will all benefit.

Thank you!
- The Policy is structured in four pillars: Youth employment; Adolescent and youth health; Education, Technical and vocational education and training; and Participation
- The Policy was officially approved by the Cabinet on the 16th of September 2014 Kabul, 18 January 2015 –Today the Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs launched the first-ever Afghanistan National Youth Policy. The document was presented as a national program for youth, a governmental commitment to address youth challenges, and a capacity building plan for young people to participate in planning and decision-making processes so they can actively contribute to the development of Afghanistan.
The document was officially approved by the Cabinet on the 16th of September 2014 after a detailed study of legislative documents and policies in the region and a close analysisof the Policy in the light of Islamic religious values and principles.The policy is structured in four pillars (Youth employment; Adolescent and youth health; Education, technical and vocational education and training; Participation) and follows international standards.
Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs Mr. Taimor Shah Isaaqzai said that youth should be identified as drivers of Transformation Decade and asked Afghan government to invest strategically on youth. He said: “ youth should be identified as drivers of Afghanistan’s economy during Transformation Decade. Investing on youth is, in fact, investment on economic progress and development, peace and security in Afghanistan”.
Deputy Minster characterised the role of young men in security by saying that tens of thousands of brave young men are serving in national security forces, we are lucky to have them serving in Afghanistan.
Key and appropriateinterventions are identified in the policy and, through its implementation, youth issues will be among the priorities of the Afghan Government, placing youth development at the forefront of national educational, economic and social development programmes.
“Data show that 63 percent of the population of Afghanistan is below 25 years old. This generation of young people presents a historic opportunity to invest on them and lead the country towards development, security and stability,” said Mark Bowden, UN Resident Coordinator for Afghanistan. “The Policy makes concrete recommendations that need to be considered for a prosperous and stable Afghanistan. In this sense, the UN will be proud to keep supporting the government to guarantee that every Afghan young’s person potential is fulfilled,” concluded.
The aim of the Afghanistan National Youth Policy is to systematically meet the needs of youth through an inclusive approach, involving all relevant governmental and non-governmental entities, and to design short-term and long-term strategies and programmes to develop youth talents, skills and potential in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres.
A Public High Commission under the leadership of the Second Vice President, H.E. Sawar Danish, has been created together with the membership of inter-sectorial ministers to guarantee the implementation of the Policy. Through a five year strategy and one year action plan, the Afghanistan National Youth Policy will be implemented in collaboration with a technical committee and a working group from the relevant institutions.
The policy has been developed by Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs, as part of the Ministry of Information and Culture, in close collaboration of other government entities such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disables, Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Counter Narcotics, Independent Directorate of Local Governance,  Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission,  Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan, National Olympics Committee and the Afghan Civil Society Forum.
Representatives of youth organizations were also involved in developing the Policy as well as international organizations such asthe United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Counterpart International,the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), UN Women, , the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
President Ghani Leaves for United Arab Emirates
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, leading a high-level delegation, left this evening for a two-day visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

During the two-day visit, President Ghani is scheduled to separately meet with UAE Prime Minister and the Emir of Dubai, his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and the Crown Prince and the Emir of Abu Dhabi, his Highness Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan to discuss ways to further enhance and consolidate bilateral relations between Afghanistan and the UAE.

The President will also meet with Emirati businessmen and investors, and Afghans living in the UAE.


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