Afghanistan’s Ambassador stresses the need for economic help

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S. stressed the need for economic investment in his country last Friday at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

His Excellency Said T. Jawad spoke at the School of Business’ Sixth International Development Forum about the economic future of Afghanistan, a post-conflict nation. His speech was followed by a panel discussion with various experts, as well as a question-and-answer session.

Jawad highlighted the efforts of the Afghan government to increase its country’s economic prosperity since 2001. He focused on the efforts of the government to build roads and increase social empowerment, especially for women.

“In order to conduct trade you need infrastructure and good policies,” Jawad said.

Jawad expressed his hopes for Afghanistan to become a roundabout of the central-Asian region. He said he hopes to accomplish this partly through the government’s road-building projects, but said he still needs the international community.

“There is an awareness in the U.S. and Europe that Afghanistan is being underinvested in,” Jawad said. He added that he thinks the international community must correct this underinvestment.

Jawad expressed hope that the newly elected Democratic Congress will help contribute to Afghanistan’s economic development. The Democrats have been critical of the Bush administration’s level of attention to the nation.

“We have put our trust in partnership with international communities,” Jawad said, adding that the U.S. and Europe must help provide a conducive environment for development by helping to build a strong infrastructure.

“Afghans are truly determined to build their country,” he said. “We are building bridges – economic, cultural and human bridges.”

The three-person panel following Jawad’s comments was moderated by Liesel Riddle, International Business and International Affairs assistant professor. It consisted of Ehsan Bayat, president and CEO of Telephone Systems International, Afghan Wireless & Ariana Radio and Television Network; Ajmal Ghani, chairman of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce; and Rex Pingle, president of PMD International.

The panel discussion focused on the panelists’ interpretation of what needs to be addressed to encourage economic investment in Afghanistan. Each panelist had a separate set of priorities for investment, ranging from identifying the best prospective business projects to increasing security and reforming the tax system.

An audience of approximately 85 people – which included students, professors, scholars and panelists’ friends and family members – listened to the discussion. Several attendees asked questions to the panel during a half-hour question-and-answer session.

“The George Washington University takes very seriously its friendship with Afghanistan,” said Jennifer Brinkerhoff, a Public Administration and International Affairs professor who organized the event.

In late September, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai spoke about the country’s economic development at the Jack Morton Auditorium.

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