Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Security Council debate
On Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts
Let me begin by congratulating you for assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of December, and thanking you for initiating this important debate today. Thank you also for your open paper on “Global Security and International Terrorism” that identified with clarity the goals of our debate.
We are gathered here today to address a great common threat: terrorism.
Our focus on this issue has wavered at times, particularly as the worldwide financial crisis drew our attention. But the tragedy that took place two weeks ago in Mumbai is a dark reminder that terrorism is still alive and still threatening the security and peace of all nations.
I stand with my government and my people in firmly condemning the atrocities that occurred in Mumbai almost two weeks ago. Afghanistan extends greatest sympathies to and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in India, because we feel and understand their suffering. A few hours after the first attack in Mumbai, there was a terrorist attack in Kabul, killing and injuring tens of civilians.
And it is even more sobering to understand that Mumbai is only one example. For terrorists, the theatre of destruction is ever widening: Mumbai, Kabul, Islamabad, New York, London Madrid.
In Afghanistan, the scars and the burns of terrorism stare us in the face every day.
In Afghanistan spectacular terrorism has become everyday terrorism. Terrorism undermines daily efforts on the part of our government to provide a sense of safety for families, to provide education for our children, to create conditions for free and fair elections for our citizens. Afghans, at all levels, bear the day-to-day burdens of terrorism. Because of our own experience, Afghanistan participates in this debate with great urgency.
And so Mr. President,
Today Afghanistan would like to call the world’s attention to the over-arching ideals terrorism is seeking to destroy: moderation, coexistence and peace.
For terror has an end goal: by murdering humans, it hopes to murder moderation. It hopes to provoke the leaders of the world to be careless with anger. It aspires to create rifts between countries and drive wedges between us. It plans to murder peace and incite us to war.
We cannot play out this script the terrorists have written for us, for that is how they win.
Today we can strike a great blow against terror by affirming our honest collaboration and cooperation. We can only fight terror by standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder.
Cooperation is our key. Cooperation is how we win.
We should commend the recent steps forward we have taken together. The Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan are embarking on the first real steps towards cooperation against the common threat. We hope this new atmosphere will lead to the end of sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups and to more mutually beneficial relations between our two countries.
In addition, the recent joint strategy that Afghanistan and Pakistan forged in Turkey is a critical step forward. We should also commend and fully support the cooperative work between India and Pakistan to investigate the persecutors of the Mumbai attacks. The UN, and all of its member states, must recognize the necessity of international support for regional cooperation in the pursuit of peace and security and the fight against terrorism.
When we speak of cooperation, we must be aware that a cooperative strategy will be strongest if it is consistent and comprehensive.
First, our inconsistent approach towards terrorism in the past has already strengthened terrorist groups around the world. We have to understand: these groups did not drop from the sky. The funding of terrorist groups served short-term, short-sighted policies to promote certain political agendas. However, we have seen these terrorist groups hit back, wreaking more destruction than any benefit we could have gained.
We must learn from the consequences of our past and be aware of our current actions. We must uniformly, consistently work towards the eradication of terrorist groups. There should be zero tolerance for terrorism, zero support for terrorism.
In Afghanistan, our recent initiative to pursue peace talks will also abide by this principle of consistency. We believe that it is necessary to act upon what we know-that there are many elements of terrorist groups who are ready to join the peace process. We must re-engage these elements in peace negotiations and bring them back to work with us constructively. Our peace strategy also aims to deprive terrorist groups of support among Afghan communities by increasing engagement with community members.
Second, a successful cooperation strategy should address terrorism comprehensively-from its root causes upward. Terrorism gains its converts from those who suffer from societal economic imbalances, social handicaps, wrenching poverty, and it hides behind popular political discontent. Terrorism tries to indoctrinate the young and innocent. We need to engage in preventive measures and policies that address the social and economic inequity upon which terrorist elements prey. Our cooperative strategy against terrorism should not be only about decapitating individual terrorist groups; our strategy must also be about bringing security, development and good governance.
In Afghanistan, we are fighting against terrorism on a daily basis by building schools for our children, by ending the narcotics industry that feeds terrorism, by locating rural enterprises for our people to improve their livelihoods and by providing water and sanitation to our people. We are fighting corruption by renewing the leadership of our Ministries and local administrations. We are training our security forces so that our people can live without fear.
This consistent and comprehensive approach will improve our cooperation and fight terrorism effectively.
We cannot wait for the next terrorist attack to renew our energies towards such a cooperative strategy. We cannot wait for another attack to join together. We have to be as committed to our cooperative measures after a hundred days of peace as we are after an attack as bloody as the ones in Mumbai. Organizations such as this noble Council should further aid cooperation by calling for new sanctions against terrorist groups and those elements and entities who would sponsor and support terrorism.
Without this consistent and comprehensive commitment to cooperation, we will walk into the traps the terrorists have laid out for us. Reckless anger, further fighting and war are how terrorism wins.
At a time when the world is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, it is appropriate that we should reassert that all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, nationality, class or gender, deserve a life free of fear, free of oppression, and free of war. Cooperation and unity is how we forge a world that will be just, peaceful, and strong against terror.
Cooperation is how we win.
Thank you Mr. President.