Statement of His Majesty Mohammed Zahir Shah the former king of Afghanistan on his return from Rome

During almost thirty years of exile, away from my beloved land, I was anxious to return to my country and be with my people.

During these years, the people of Afghanistan have sustained war, political revolt, drought and famine. Thousands of people have been killed and millions of them have become refugees. I share this pain with my people.

We have been given an opportunity for a new beginning. There are a lot of duties ahead to rebuild our destroyed country and want all Afghans to unite for this cause.

I believe, if we Afghans both men and women from all ethnic groups unite, our people will have the glory and power and I am sure that I will be able to play an important role in accomplishment of these objectives.

We have had a good beginning. I fully support the Bonn Agreement and the Interim Administration led by Mr. Hamid Karzai. I am expecting the opening of the Emergency Loyal Jirga tube convened in June, 2002. I would like to make it clear that the purpose of my return to Afghanistan is not to restore monarchy. The people of Afghanistan will form the structure of sustainable political system in Afghanistan through the Loyal Jirga mechanism. At that time, the Loyal Jirga will be held over the next two years. That Jirga will be held at the end of the mandate of the transitional government, tube established by the Emergency Loyal Jirga in June 2002.

I would like to thank the nations that helped the people of Afghanistan get their freedom and the United Nations, which has exerted efforts aimed at bringing peace and political settlement.

I avail myself of this opportunity to express my gratitude to the government and good people of Italy for the hospitality they extended to me during consecutive years. I will never forget their amicable reception and believe that the interests and friendship that have developed between us will flourish and further develop.

Kabul, 24 Aril 2002