Friday, December 19, 2014

ISAF Strategic Vision for Afghanistan was released at the NATO meeting

Declaration by the Heads of State and Government of the Nations contributing to the UN-mandated NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan

1.         We gather in Bucharest to reaffirm our determination to help the people and the elected Government of Afghanistan build an enduring stable, secure, prosperous and democratic state, respectful of human rights and free from the threat of terrorism. Afghanistan is the Alliance’s key priority.  We recognised after the tragic events of 11 September 2001, that Euro-Atlantic and broader international security is tied to Afghanistan’s stability and future. Our presence in Afghanistan is at the request of the Government of Afghanistan and mandated by the United Nations. Neither we nor our Afghan partners will allow extremists and terrorists such as the Taliban or al-Qaeda, to regain control of Afghanistan or use it as a base for terror that threatens all of our people and has been felt in many of our countries and beyond. As we help Afghanistan rebuild, our guiding principles are:

  • a firm and shared long-term commitment;
  • support for enhanced Afghan leadership and responsibility;
  • a comprehensive approach by the international community, bringing together civilian and military efforts; and
  • increased cooperation and engagement with Afghanistan’s neighbours, especially Pakistan.

We welcome President Hamid Karzai and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon along with his Special Representative Kai Eide to this Summit and reaffirm our shared vision for Afghanistan.

2.           In helping the Afghan people build security today, we are defending basic values we all share, including freedom, democracy and human rights as well as respect for the views and beliefs of others.  While much remains to be done, Afghanistan has made important strides in developing its democracy and improving the lives of its citizens; its Government is strengthening its capacity in these areas.  A reconciliation process for national unity has begun and basic security and infrastructure have improved. Over the past six years, access to health care has increased tenfold; access to education is up six times and women again have rights protected by law. Afghan and international forces from  40 countries, working side-by-side, are creating security conditions that make this progress possible. Nevertheless, security challenges remain. Violent extremists continue to attack fragile governmental institutions and the people of Afghanistan. They increasingly revert to indiscriminate terror attacks and intimidation but Afghanistan’s and our capacity to counter them continues to grow.

3.        Our vision of success is clear: extremism and terrorism will no longer pose a threat to stability; Afghan National Security Forces will be in the lead and self-sufficient; and the Afghan Government will be able to extend the reach of good governance, reconstruction, and development throughout the country to the benefit of all its citizens.  This declaration is supported by a medium-term, internal political-military plan – consistent with the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghan National Development Strategy – which will be updated regularly and against which we will measure progress.

Our shared long-term commitment

4.            We will continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan in further establishing and maintaining a secure environment and extending good governance.  To enhance our security effort we will:

  • support each other in sharing the burden in Afghanistan;
  • provide our military commanders the tools they need for success by filling  remaining ISAF shortfalls including forces, training teams and enablers;
  • provide maximum possible flexibility of use of our forces by the ISAF Commander;
  • continue to ensure that every measure is taken to avoid civilian casualties; and
  • enhance our capacity to counter extremist propaganda and communicate more effectively our goals, accomplishments and remaining challenges to Afghan and international audiences.

Enhancing Afghan Leadership

5.           Only Afghan-led security forces and institutions can ensure the rule of law in the long term. The Afghan National Army is increasingly demonstrating the ability to successfully plan and conduct complex operations with our forces in support. As Afghanistan’s security forces become increasingly capable of leading and sustaining operations independently, we expect ISAF’s role will be able to evolve to one primarily of training and mentoring. We welcome the growing international focus on building the capacity of the Afghan police which are vital for the stability and security of the nation. In support of all this, we will:

  • provide the training teams and help provide the equipment needed to meet the goal of an effective 80,000 – strong Afghan Army by 2010;
  • work towards progressively transferring lead security responsibility throughout the country to Afghan forces, supported by ISAF, as appropriate conditions are met and Afghan capacity permits; we accordingly welcome Afghanistan’s expressed intention to assume lead security responsibility for Kabul as soon as feasible;
  • encourage the appointment of a senior Afghan military officer to ISAF Headquarters when circumstances permit;
  • assist the development of effective civilian-controlled security and defence institutions including through the NATO-Afghanistan Cooperation Programme;
  • assist the development of the Afghan National Police within our means and capabilities and in close coordination with relevant international actors, where appropriate;
  • support the Government of Afghanistan in building capacity to communicate more effectively and respond to extremist propaganda;
  • help strengthen Afghan institutions required to fully establish the rule of law, protect human rights and promote our shared values, while respecting Afghan culture and traditions;
  • provide security support to upcoming elections in Afghanistan; and
  • continue to support Afghan-led efforts to tackle the narcotics problem.

Enhanced coordination

6.         There can be no lasting security without development and no development without security. Success requires a comprehensive approach across security, governance and development efforts and between all local and international partners in support of the Afghan Government.  We will intensify our contribution to such a comprehensive approach. To this end, we:

  • welcome United Nations Security Council Resolution 1806 which sharpens the UN Mission in Afghanistan’s mandate and decides to strengthen cooperation with ISAF;
  • look forward to working closely with UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Kai Eide and the UN Mission in Afghanistan as it further expands throughout the country, and in support of its lead role in coordinating the overall international civilian effort, improved civil-military coordination, political outreach and governance;
  • will work on more regular consultations with all actors involved in Afghanistan as appropriate and in close coordination with the Afghan Government; and,
  • welcome the upcoming Paris Conference that will review progress on and strengthen international efforts to further implement the Afghanistan Compact.

7.       Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)  play a significant role in enabling security, governance and development. We pledge to provide all the PRTs needed, enhance their unity of effort, strengthen their civilian component and further align their development strategies with Afghan Government priorities until such a time as Afghan Government institutions are strong enough to render PRTs unnecessary.

Afghanistan’s neighbours and the Region

8.        Afghanistan’s neighbours have an important role to play in helping Afghanistan build a more stable and secure future. The threats of violent extremism and narcotics are not Afghanistan’s alone. The region stands to benefit when these threats are dealt with effectively. To help foster a long-term regional approach to security challenges and cooperation, we:

  • call on Afghanistan’s neighbours to act resolutely in support of the Afghan Government’s efforts to build a stable Afghanistan with secure borders;
  • look forward to deepening our engagement with Afghanistan’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan;
  • support efforts to improve security and stability along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and,
  • encourage further cooperation and intensified dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan including through the Jirga mechanisms, the Ankara process and the Tripartite Commission.

Conclusion

9.         We as Allies and Partners stand united in our firm commitment to support the Afghan people fulfil their aspirations for a better life. The Afghan Government and people are taking increasing responsibility for the country’s security, reconstruction and development.   Together we will ensure they achieve the future they have long been denied and thereby bring greater security to all of our people.

Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of March, and expressing appreciation for convening this important meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

Today’s meeting, which takes place just less than a week after the appointment of a new Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, and days prior to the Council’s extension of UNAMA’s mandate, offers a good opportunity to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. We congratulate Mr. Kai Eide on his recent appointment and wish him every success in fulfilling the task entrusted to him. We look forward to working closely with him.

We are thankful to the Secretary General for his recent report on the situation in Afghanistan. His report is comprehensive, covering a wide-range of issues, including key political developments, the security and humanitarian situation, and the future activities of UNAMA.

Mr. President,

Increased terrorist attacks by the enemies of Afghanistan have led to some ill-judged and misguided perceptions about the situation in the Afghanistan. Recent remarks of government control or even failure in Afghanistan are products of premature assumptions which have the potential to undermine public support for efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the country. We should stay the course with firm determination, and prevent security nuances from weakening our resolve to achieve our shared goals.

Let us not forget that we, Afghanistan and our international partners, have made undeniable gains towards a strong, stable and democratic Afghanistan. By all standards, the achievements made thus far reflect tremendous success in Afghanistan. Today a greater part of Afghanistan is secure from terrorism and violence. The fight against terrorists and extremists continues. Thanks to the support of our international partners, our security forces have become stronger and more effective. The Afghan national army has reached 58,000 and assumed a greater role in the fight against terrorists seeking to destabilize Afghanistan and the region. With the support of our international partners we have dismantled more than 120 terrorist bases of operations and apprehended 1,000 terrorists, including foreigners. Among the captured are elite commanders of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’s rank and file, as well as the culprits of recent terrorist attacks. They include terrorists who carried out the attack on the Serena Hotel on the 14th of January, and the suicide bombings in Kandahar which took place last month.

Mr. President,

In spite of our achievements, significant challenges remain. Providing security for our people is not only our main objective, but also our primary challenge. Terrorists have increased attacks against civilians, schools, religious figures, security forces and international partners. They have also broadened the scope of their activities in the region. New violent fronts have been opened. Attacks which have come by “hit and run” tactics should not be seen as a sign of the enemy’s strength, but rather of their frustration resulting from the inability to engage in direct battles. As it was stated in paragraph 19 of the Secretary General’s report, [and I quote] “The superiority of Afghan and international forces in conventional battles has forced opposing groups to adopt small-scale asymmetric tactics largely aimed at Afghan National Security Forces, and in some cases, civilians: improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks, assassinations, and abductions” [end of quote].

The government of Afghanistan will spare no effort to improve security for its people. In this regard, we continue to maintain a comprehensive strategy which contains both military and political dimensions. While the military campaign remains the center-piece of our efforts to defeat terrorists and consolidate security, we are according greater attention to political outreach and furthering the national reconciliation process. We reiterate our call to individuals with past grievances to reject violence, abide by the constitution, and join their fellow compatriots in rebuilding their country. In this connection, we welcome UNAMA’s readiness to extend its good offices to support reconciliation efforts, at the request of the Afghan government.

Mr. President,

The interconnected challenges facing Afghanistan requires mutually reinforcing efforts to consolidate gains in the areas of security, governance, development and counter-narcotics. Strengthening governance and combating corruption and narcotics remain among our top priorities. We have initiated new measures to improve governance at the provincial and local levels. As indicated in the report of the Secretary General, the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) has strengthened the connection of the provincial administrations to the central government.  It has also led to progress in a variety of areas at the provincial and district levels, including sustainable delivery of basic services to local communities, disbandment of

illegal armed groups, police reform and counter-narcotics.

The Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous measures to combat corruption. These include the creation of an Inter-Institutional Commission, headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to address corruption in the public sector; development of the draft of our National Anti-Corruption Strategy, and the signing of the UN Convention against Corruption in August 2007. Nevertheless, the challenge of fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law requires time and resources. We welcome UNAMA’s new emphasis in support of our efforts to strengthen the governance and the rule of law.

Mr. President,

As the report of the Secretary General asserts, our counter narcotics efforts have gained momentum. Following the increase in cultivation and production of opium in 2007, we have taken a series of additional measures to expedite the implementation of our National Drug Control Strategy. In the recent meeting of the JCMB in Tokyo, we reached consensus with our international partners on areas where immediate action should be taken. We prioritized countering narcotics as a key pillar of our Policy Advisory Group, which aims to improve security in six provinces with the highest level of violence. In October of last year, we designated 50,000 hectares as the national eradication target for 2008. In addition, to address the reinforcing

link between terrorism and narcotics, we will provide force protection for eradication operations. Among other measures taken for a more effective counter-narcotics effort, our National Assembly confirmed the candidate for the post of Minister of Counter-Narcotics just two weeks ago.

Mr. President,

Despite our challenges, Afghanistan is continuing its reconstruction and social and economic development. Today, more than 85 percent of the population is covered with basic package of health services. Progress in the education sector has enabled nearly six million children access to education. Our legal economy has grown by an average of 12 percent over the past four years, and our GDP per capita has approximately doubled. Five million Afghans have returned home in hope of a promising future, and more than 1,471 kilometers of roads have been built and 737 kilometers remain under construction. In the area of human rights, our constitution has enabled our citizens to enjoy unprecedented rights. In accordance with our National Action Plan for Women (NAPWA), Afghan women continue to assume a greater role in the social, political and economic life of the country. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the challenges in various sectors, and remain committed to address them resolutely.

To consolidate and advance our gains, we will finalize the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) in the weeks to come. We welcome the up-coming Paris Conference in June 2008, at which we will launch the ANDS, review the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact and discuss the way forward with our international partners. We are working closely with the government of France in preparation of the Conference.

Mr. President,

The people of Afghanistan continue to live under difficult humanitarian conditions. The situation has exacerbated with the onset of the harshest winter conditions in more than thirty years, which caused more than 900 fatalities, while hundreds of people suffered from severe frostbite. The severe weather also devastated our livestock, which is the main source of livelihood for vulnerable families in remote parts of Afghanistan. While expressing gratitude to the humanitarian community for providing emergency aid in the worst-affected provinces, we appeal for urgent delivery of additional humanitarian assistance.

The recent winter catastrophe illustrates the need for greater coordination of international humanitarian assistance to better address the humanitarian needs of our people. In this connection, we welcome UNAMA’s continued coordinating role to ensure timely and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as its readiness to assist the government of Afghanistan to create conditions conducive for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of our fellow Afghans from abroad.

Mr. President,

The role of the United Nations remains vital for the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. We look forward to the adoption of the resolution that will extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in the coming days. The extension of the mandate will reflect the continuing commitment of the UN and the international community to Afghanistan. We are hopeful that it will also mark the beginning of a strengthened, structured and more effective UN role in Afghanistan. The need for greater coordination of the international community’s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is ever more evident. In this regard, we underscore the importance of an enhanced coordinating role by the UN to combine the international community’s assistance to Afghanistan into a cross-alliance effort. Such coordination is necessary to improve the effectiveness, and efficiency of international assistance to Afghanistan.

Before concluding, I would like to express my appreciation to the United Nations and the international community for its commitment to achieve lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. Together, we have come a long way, but our mission has yet to be accomplished. With greater coordination and closer cooperation, we will successfully conclude the journey which we jointly embarked upon six years ago.

Thank you Mr. President.

Afghan medical college struggles to rise from the ashes

KABUL (Reuters) – The gutted, hollow shell of the Ali Abad training hospital in Kabul is a symbol of the state of Afghanistan’s medical system, battered by decades of war.

Ali Abad, Afghanistan’s oldest hospital, was reduced to rubble when civil war tore Kabul apart in the 1990s.

Though classes stayed open, many doctors who taught at the teaching hospital fled, medical equipment and drugs were scarce and female students were forced to stay at home due to Taliban restrictions against women.

“We lost many senior professors and qualified teachers, they emigrated to other countries, like the United States and they are not coming back,” said Professor Obaidullah, chancellor of the Kabul Medical University. “It’s a disaster for us.”

Reconstruction of the teaching hospital, built 70 years ago, began in 2005 and a motley collection of squat buildings now stand in place of the rubble.

“Ali Abad was completely destroyed. We built two buildings recently but they are empty, we don’t have the equipment for the new Ali Abad hospital,” said Obaidullah.

He hopes to open a 600 bed facility in the new hospital within the next five months but there is still a shortfall of $1.5 million to pay for equipment. The medical school also badly needs doctors to teach.

“We need specialists in oncology, modern anesthesiology, biochemistry and histopathology. We have some, but not enough. The key is to get good teachers, increase their knowledge, allow them to go overseas and learn. We accept young teachers, those who want to learn more. We welcome foreigners,” he said.

AMBITIOUS PLANS

Afghanistan’s healthcare system is widely believed to be one of the country’s success stories since reconstruction began after the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-led and Afghan forces in 2001. The Islamist movement came to power in 1996 after a civil war.

While many daunting problems linger, such as not enough doctors, nurses, midwives and equipment, the provision of primary healthcare has improved in some parts of Afghanistan due to help from donor nations and NGOs.

Female patients were excluded from healthcare for many years because they were banned from consulting male doctors, but they are now getting improved access to treatment.

Afghanistan’s maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world, although the government has ambitious plans to cut the rate to 400 from 1,600 for every 100,000 live births by 2020. It also plans to train more female doctors and nurses.

Even today, Afghanistan is suffering the after-effects of Taliban rule as it does not have enough women doctors, nurses and midwives for its female population.

“Female students have come back … Now they make up 40 percent of our 2,100 students,” Obaidullah said. “During the Taliban era, there were zero girls.”

Apart from Ali Abad, Kabul Medical University has three other teaching hospitals, among them the French Medical Institute for Children, considered one of the country’s better equipped hospitals.

Unlike many doctors, Obaidullah and a handful of colleagues never left Afghanistan, not even during its most difficult times, such as during the 1992 to 1996 civil war.

“One day in 1994, I had just finished a surgery and was going home. That day a lot of rockets fell on Kabul city. I didn’t have a car and I ran 10 kilometers all the way home,” said A H Shafaq, an ear, nose and throat specialist who teaches at the university.

“That day, it was as if the rockets were chasing me, they were falling around me,” he said.

The university rebuilt almost its entire grounds over the past three years. But it left standing an external wall covered with the scars of rocket fire and bullets.

“These are all the memories of war,” said Shafaq, pointing to the wall.

(Editing by Megan Goldin)