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Speeches

F. Assifi: Pray for a Relief of Suffering

Address to UPF's World Summit on Peace
Seoul, Korea, May 29-June 2, 2009


Today I am going to take you on a short, short journey of why Afghanistan is in such a fragile situation. Why do we have all the nations in the world involved in bringing peace to Afghanistan and yet we are still the killing field of the world today?

I returned to Afghanistan in 2003 and in 2004 started working for the government of Afghanistan. We put together the Afghanistan National Development Strategy Program, which was headed by 42 international communities, including the United States. This national strategy of Afghanistan contained all the political, security, economic, and medical resources —everything that our devastated country needed in order to be put back together.

We formed a beautiful executive summary at the end of 2005, and we presented the plan to the world in London in December 2005. The response was powerful: the world was taken by such a surprise to see such a wonderful plan for Afghanistan’s rebuilding and reconstruction. Altogether,  the world pledged 21 billion dollars, with the highest amount, about ten billion, from the United States.

We were supposed to be starting the implementation of this program by the beginning of 2006. But what are the results? Unfortunately, they are very disappointing. We’ve had so far more than 42 billion dollars coming to Afghanistan. Can you imagine that sum of money in a country smaller than Texas?

And yet, this is still a country about which very little is known. This is the ninth time that the United Nations failed to determine true size of population of the country. Do we have a population between 15 and 20 million, or is it as some say nearer 30 million? If we had received these 42 billion dollars and laid them down over Afghanistan there should have been excess left over.

And yet, can you imagine that the capital city in Afghanistan, Kabul, does not have paved roads everywhere? We do not have sidewalks, we don’t have proper health care, we don’t have proper drinking water, we don’t have proper electricity. If you see the books the Ministry of Education has prepared and printed for the youth, for the children, you would throw them in the toilet. It is that bad.

It has come to that point that everyone is asking, “Why has peace failed?”I am asking that myself. The United Nations was supposed to be the leader in peacekeeping, not politics, not side-taking, not nepotism, not favoritism. What happened to United Nations? We all relied on United Nations, hoping that they could reconcile people and bring them together. But I don’t see it. I don’t see it at all.

I teach at the American University of Afghanistan. I teach leadership to young Afghan women. We are trying to get the focus on women even though they are being ridiculed day by day, not only by Afghan men but also by the government of Afghanistan as well.

I am a Muslim, a very devoted Muslim, but not a fanatic Muslim. As it says in our Qur'an, our holy book, we must love all nations, we must love people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter how they look, how they talk, how they walk, or what are their ideologies. All are children of God. We all come from God and we must respect each other.

Yet today, as a matter of fact, I see the respect is gone. We don’t have respect for each other any more. We take each other for granted all the time. If we the elders, the educated, the holders of wisdom behave like this day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute, what do we expect from our children? We are supposed to be the role models for our children aren’t we? But where is that role model anymore?

I reach out to my God. I love my God. I believe in God. Why have the leaders of the Islamic world brought Islam to such a place? I see it every day. They say one thing and practice something else. Somebody should show me in that Qur'an, in my holy book, where God has said, “Kill the Jews. Kill the Buddhists. Kill the Christians.” Where does it say it? I don’t see it. I believe in God. I know that one day I’ll be facing him and be called up to tell him what good did I do for the human kind that he loves very much.

Did you know that in the Qur'an it says, “The worst sin a human can commit is that someone will ridicule and punish another human.” And do you know what atrocities these Islamic people are causing under the name of God and under the name of Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Qur'an? They say one thing, and then they change to the other side. Look what they are doing in the name of Islam.

When I returned in 2003 back to my country, I could not believe my eyes what has happened to it. On the one side we have Iran, a Muslim country. On another side we share rather undefined boundaries with Pakistan, another Muslim nation. But we are not good neighbors to each other. Look what Iran is still doing to Afghanis. They put the parents in jail and let the children, fi- and ten-year-olds, return to Afghanistan. Look what Pakistan is doing.

I know we are here to talk about peace. We are here to talk about harmony and loving each other as children of God. The people of Afghanistan have been devastated. They don’t know whom to go to. They don’t know whom to turn to. The only hope that they have is Allah, God. That is the only hope they turn to.

Peace will not come through force. I am sure you know that there are 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, trying to keep the peace and sovereignty of Afghanistan. But how can there be any possibility for peace when these 42 nations in Afghanistan, NATO, do not properly coordinate with the National Security Forces? I have pleaded with the ambassadors of these nations in Afghanistan, and the foreign families in that country, but they will not coordinate, they will not cooperate, they will not work together.

Meanwhile, corruption is spreading everywhere. Narcotics are being produced more than ever before. Money is being taken out of the country illegally. Everyone is benefiting from it except the Afghanis themselves.

As Father Moon has  said, the time is now for the United Nations to really fulfill its commitment for what United Nations is supposed to do: to bring peace and harmony among people, to bring reconciliation, to not take sides

Please pray for Afghanistan, pray for the Afghan people. It’s a really bad situation in that country. People are dying of hunger and diseases. And there is no harmony that I can think of in how countries work together. Pray for a sovereignty of goodness or at least for the relief of pain in that country.

For videos of this and other speakers at the summit click here.