Hamid Karzai: My aim is to turn Afghanistan into a First World country

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The Independent Online

What is the road forward? Where do we want to be in Afghanistan as we are go into the next elections and look forward to the next five or 10 or 15 years? Afghanistan wants to continue the journey it has began of building democratic institutions, of building a country that has a better standard of living, where not only we save 85,000 lives of infants and children per year, but where we build ourselves into a country that's counted as the First World.

Are those terms still in vogue, the First World and the Second World and the Third World or have they gone away now? Pretty much in vogue? Right. So we want to be the First World. How do we want to be the First World? By educating ourselves to the standards of the First World, by providing a healthcare service to the standards of the First World – with differences where I would prefer the British system there than the one you have here when it comes to health service – by acquiring the ability to defend our country, by acquiring the ability to produce of our own, by generating electricity to all of the people in the country, by providing power to the population, by providing roads and access to the population, by connecting the country fully with each other and with the rest of the world.

Part of this has been achieved; part of this is still on the way. We have completed the ring road in the country. We have linked many districts to the provinces. We have linked fully to the neighbours of Afghanistan. We have raised the income per capita from $150 a month of 2004 to over $450 today. We have raised our national reserves. We have done all of that.

But Afghanistan still remains the poorest country in the world [and] is still vulnerable to violence. It is still dependent on the international community. The vision for Afghanistan 15 years from now is to be much less dependent on the international community. In other words, not to be a burden on you the way we are today. We will continue to be somehow in need of assistance from you 10 or 15 years from now, but not to be a burden on you as we are today, but to be a partner with the international community in a more meaningful manner.

Taken from remarks made by the President of Afghanistan to the Brookings Institution in Washington DC earlier this week