Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Security Council Debate on
the Situation in Afghanistan
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting, and congratulate you on your work as president of this Council for the month of June. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his most recent report, and SRSG Staffan di Mistura for his briefing today, his first in his new role.
Mr. di Mistura and the leadership and staff of UNAMA have made exemplary efforts in Kabul. In less than three months, Mr. di Mistura has proven himself to be admirably able to bring all stakeholders, including regional actors, together around issues and principles of common concern. We are grateful to him, and I look forward to working with him and his colleagues closely in the coming years.
This meeting comes less than a week after this august Council’s visit to Afghanistan, which I had the honor to be part of. Let me thank you all, and particularly Ambassador Apakan of Turkey for his work in leading the Mission. The Council’s visit came at a crucial time for Afghanistan. It was an opportunity to assess the current situation, and to prepare for the future. More importantly, it was also an opportunity to better understand the hopes, fears and expectations of the Afghan people. As was evident last week, Afghans are focused in particular on the increased role of their government in the reconstruction and stabilization process; on their expectations from the international community; and on how to address the insurgency. Our success in the coming years will depend on our ability to further involve Afghans in these crucial issues.
Seven months ago, President Karzai presented a comprehensive national agenda to reengage the Afghan people and enable them to take increased responsibility for the governance, development and security of their country. This has subsequently been endorsed by the international community in London and since.
The Afghanistan we saw last week has made visible progress in the past months towards meeting its commitments, progress that is also reflected in the report before us today. The Afghan National Army and Police, now operating with increased operational capability, are on schedule to reach their combined target size and strength. In partnership with the international forces, we have begun to take back the initiative from the Taliban in some key parts of the country.
In addition, the Afghan government is increasingly focused on efficiency and effectiveness, cracking down on corruption and promoting rule of law. President Karzai recently called for initiatives to prevent nepotism in the awarding of high-level contracts, and to require businessmen related to high-level officials to disclose their assets.
The Government of Afghanistan has also taken steps to prioritize development, particularly in the agricultural sector, in an effort to ensure a sustainable economy, and is investing in minerals and human resource development to promote long-term prosperity.
Further, last month’s Peace Jirga brought together a broad and representative cross-section of Afghan society around the common desire for security, peace and justice. This Jirga marked an important step towards building an inclusive and unified Afghan approach to peace and reconciliation, and identified concrete steps to be taken in that direction.
At the same time, the Afghan-led parliamentary elections process is well underway, with 2577 candidates, including 406 women, standing for 249 seats. There is a broad commitment from the newly restructured Independent Electoral and Electoral Complaints Commissions, as well as civil society and the candidates themselves, to ensure that this is a transparent, fair and credible process, one which learns from the lessons of the past. In this regard, we appreciate the assistance of the United Nations and the international community in providing financial and logistical support, and in helping us to guarantee the security which is essential for a credible election. This election will be an important step on the path towards strengthening the engagement of people in the establishment of the democratic system.
Three weeks from now the Government of Afghanistan will convene the International Kabul Conference on Afghanistan, which will allow us to renew the partnership between the international community and the Afghan government and people, crystallize our shared strategy and begin to implement concrete action plans. It will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and the United Nations, and attended at the Foreign Ministerial level and by representatives of countries, international and regional organizations, and financial institutions. This is not a pledging conference, but a chance to detail the objectives reflected in President Karzai’s inaugural platform and the London Conference outcome.
Afghans have great hopes, and great expectations, from our international friends and allies. They are well aware that Afghanistan would still be under the bloody reign of the Taliban and Al Qaeda without the support and assistance of the international community. But they are nevertheless disturbed by the ongoing debates among and between our international allies, and concerned that sustainable progress may be difficult to achieve if we do not show patience, fortitude and long-term commitment.
This renewed partnership between Afghanistan and the international community must embody a recognition that trust and responsibility are equally important for all partners, rather than being the sole preserve of any one of us. We must continue to work together jointly to meet our own expectations and those of our partners.
To build the confidence and trust of the Afghan people, efforts should be geared towards:
- first, by ensuring that the transition strategy is implemented in practice, through capacity-building, empowering Afghans, and avoiding waste;
- second, by reengaging the people in the transition process;
- third, by ending the negative perceptions that have favored the enemy;
- and fourth, by ensuring visible progress in both the short and long term.
The Kabul conference and the subsequent parliamentary elections will be opportunities to achieve some of these goals, but our efforts should continue and intensify across the board.
The Afghan people have suffered from violence and conflict for over thirty years, and they understand that most of our current enemies are not driven by ideology. My government has made it a priority to undertake a process to end the insurgency and consolidate security throughout the country.
The Peace Jirga outcome document recommended several steps to be taken towards an inclusive Afghan peace process that will weave Afghan fighters and enemy leaders back into the fabric of Afghan social, economic and political life. The Government of Afghanistan has already started to implement many of these recommendations. We are creating a high-level council to oversee the implementation of the peace and reconciliation process. We have also begun to review detention records with a view to releasing Taliban who are being held without adequate evidence, and have requested this Council to extend the review process of the Consolidated List as we prepare to submit a preliminary delisting request.
However, let us be clear: we will not sacrifice the progress that has been made, or the principles on which our Constitution is founded. We will begin negotiations with any disenchanted Afghans who are ready to distance themselves from Al Qaeda and to participate in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
Partnership with the Afghan people has been critical to the progress made thus far, and will be critical to the success of the current transition strategy. As you noticed last week, there is intense interest, and some concern, among the Afghan people. But at the same time, there is also strength of resolve, both in the Afghan government and in civil society, and the pride that Afghans feel in their historic nation. We are eager to build a government and society that will do justice to that pride. The international community has been a true and steadfast friend to the Afghan people in this struggle, and we look forward to a partnership that is closer, more concrete and more focused.
I thank you.