Last night we lost a great Afghan leader and a champion of peace. Former President Rabbani lived through decades of tumult and war. He did not just experience the events of the past decades. In many respects, he shaped them. He was, in fact, the author of much of where we are today, with respect to peace.
He knew what Taliban rule meant to the people of Afghanistan and to the world. It meant oppression, it meant violence, and it meant darkness. That is why he dedicated himself to the cause of peace as Chairman of the High Peace Council.
I sat with former President Rabbani last week, [and] Mr. Stanekzai in Kandahar, at the Reintegration Shura that was held there. And he spoke passionately – passionately - of his desire for peace.
Also yesterday, in conjunction with that attack, another of our steadfast partners and our friend, Minister Stanekzai was wounded. We spent some time with him in the hospital last night.
This morning, we can see right through last night’s attack. Its significance is clear and can be summed up thusly: that the insurgents are afraid; they are afraid of the peace process.
We are placing extraordinary pressure on the insurgents and many are tired of fighting. We know that there are Taliban leaders in Pakistan who want to come out of that country, who want to join the peace process, and it was to that end President Rabbani, Minister Stanekzai and others, believed they were meeting with one of those elements to get the Taliban in large numbers off the battlefield and to get them back in the country and to become part of the peace process, rather than the problem.
Insurgent leaders understand that peace and Reintegration is one of the greatest threats they face. And so they targeted the men who sought to bring peace to the Afghan people.
It is yet another instance of the insurgents seeking to frighten and intimidate the Afghan people into submission through high-profile attacks.
We are not going to allow a few insurgents and suicide bombers to hold up the progress of the Afghan people, or to hold it hostage through their vicious acts. These attacks are a sign of their weakness, not of their strength.
The attack last night will not deter us from the pursuit of peace and Reintegration in Afghanistan - It will NOT deter us. It strengthens our resolve and determination.
And in the weeks and in the days, we will work closely with our Afghan partners to shore up the Afghan leadership in this important effort. And I will probably be meeting with President Karzai today.
We will breathe new energy and fight into this peace process. We will generate effects and we will advance peace.