Saturday, April 19, 2014

Afghanistan Calls for More Delisting of Former Taliban Members

On 15 November, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, addressed the UN Security Council during its debate on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committees.  He said that the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security remains the terrorist activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups.  “The enemy we face,” he said, “is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support.”

Ambassador Tanin also stated that as Afghanistan and the International Community continue their fight against the terrorists, reconciliation efforts and outreach to the armed opposition who would like to join the peace process by renouncing violence are critical.  He welcomed the delisting of ten former Taliban members from the consolidated list of Individuals and Entities Associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban over the past year.  He urged the Security Council to “give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests.”

He expressed Afghanistan’s support for the counter-terrorism committees. The 1267 committee was praised for its efforts in keeping the sanctions list current and as a result of this process the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members which will contribute to Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative.  Additionally, the 1373 committee and the 1540 committee were commended for their ongoing efforts in the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors respectively.

Overall, this was an important opportunity to reconfirm the Afghan peoples’ commitment to the fight for the elimination of terrorism with the partnership of the international community.

Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council

on “Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council.”

Mr. President,
As this is the first time that I am taking the floor during this month, permit me, at the outset, to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the Council during November. And we thank you for holding today’s debate on the work of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council dealing with terrorism.

My delegation is thankful to Ambassador Harting of Austria, Ambassador Apagan of Turkey and Ambassador Heller of Mexico for their comprehensive briefings on the work of the counter-terrorism committees, established pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004).

Mr. President,

Afghanistan remains the number one victim of international terrorism.  Nearly a decade ago, Afghanistan and the international community joined hands to end the rule of terrorists and extremists, who used the country as a base for international terrorism. And today, notwithstanding important progress in the political, social and economic fronts, the terrorist campaign of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups continues to be the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security, reconstruction and development. Terrorists have killed or maimed thousands of innocent men, women and children; and they seek to take Afghanistan back to the days when tyranny and oppression were seen as the rule of law.

Mr. President,

As we have echoed time and again in this very Council, terrorism in Afghanistan and our part of the world is a growing threat to international peace and security. The enemy we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support. Afghanistan remains alarmed at the presence of these support centers, and reiterates that unless they are addressed, the terrorism which has been raging like wildfire will regrettably continue.

Mr. President,

As the front-line state in combating terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of loss of human life, and the destruction of our economy and infrastructure. Afghans have made enormous sacrifices in this struggle.  As we speak, our national army and police are engaged in fierce combat against enemy forces in joint military operations with international forces. We have taken the fight to terrorists, and prevented their ability to carry out large-scale conventional attacks. That is why they resort to desperate tactics – suicide bombings, assassinations and abductions.

Further, as we get ready to begin the transition process, we have given new focus on building the size and strength of our national army and police. The detailed plan of the transition strategy will be presented at the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon later this week. We are confident that a stronger and more efficient security force will lead to further progress in the fight against terrorism, and to improvement in the security situation.

Mr. President,
As long as terrorism remains a threat, the fight against it will continue. By the same token, it is widely recognized that military efforts alone are not the solution to Afghanistan’s security problem. Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants with no links to terrorist organizations is critical for achieving lasting peace and security.  In this regard, I want to state clearly that our reintegration and reconciliation initiative will be pursued in conformity with the provisions of the Afghan constitution. Additionally, we give full assurance that the democratic process and respect for human rights, the rights of women in particular, will remain a priority during reconciliation.

Mr. President

Afghanistan commends the Security Council for the able manner in which it is leading international efforts in combating terrorism. In that regard, we highlight the importance of counter-terrorism committees 1267, 1373 and 1540.

Mr. President,

The 1267 Committee remains one of the important instruments of the Security Council in countering terrorism. Consistent with resolution 1904, the Committee has taken a number of important steps to increase transparency and effectiveness in its work. In July of this year, the Committee revised its working guidelines. Another important achievement is the publication of narrative summaries for enlisting. This new practice provides member-states with concise information, such as date and reason for listing. Moreover, in August, the Committee concluded its review of all individuals on the consolidated list, which led to the delisting of additional names.

Mr. President,

We join other speakers in underscoring the importance of a periodic review of the list, so as to ensure its accuracy. In this connection, Afghanistan welcomes the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members during the course of the year. Such measures will benefit Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative. Having said that, we urge the Committee to also give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests, and look forward to Monitoring Team’s visit to Kabul at the end of this month.

In regards to the 1373 Committee, we underscore its important work, and welcome the continued efforts of the Committee and its Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for increased collaboration with member-states.

Mr. President,

Terrorists have proven their readiness to terrorize peoples, societies, and countries as a demonstration of their strength. They will no spare no effort to go to all lengths, including resorting to nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism. In this connection, we commend the ongoing efforts of the 1540 Committee in preventing non-state actors from participating in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is actively engaged in implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on terrorism, on which we have presented national reports. Needless to say, Afghanistan is party to all 13 conventions on terrorism. Moreover, Afghanistan’s relevant national institutions, the security and judicial sectors in particular, are working diligently to further strengthen our counter-terrorism efforts.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I should like to state that the fight against terrorism is a key component of our partnership with the international community. We look forward to strengthening this partnership in the coming years.  And let me reiterate that the people of Afghanistan are as resolute as ever before to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Thank you Mr. President.

Copper load of this! Company digging mine in Afghanistan unearths 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

By Daily Mail Reporter

A Chinese company digging an unexploited copper mine in Afghanistan has unearthed ancient statues of Buddha in a sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery.

Archaeologists are rushing to salvage what they can from a major 7th century B.C. religious site along the famed Silk Road connecting Asia and the Middle East.

The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as ‘stupas,’ will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins.

The ruins were discovered as labourers excavated the site on behalf of the Chinese government-backed China Metallurgical Group Corp, which wants to develop the world’s second largest copper mine, lying beneath the ruins.

Historic find: Ancient Buddha statues inside a temple in Mes Aynak, south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Chinese labourers digging a copper mine made the astonishing discovery

Hanging over the situation is the memory of the Buddhas of Bamiyan — statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country’s then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism.

No one wants to be blamed for similarly razing history at Mes Aynak, in the eastern province of Logar. MCC wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011 but under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.

Archaeologists working on the site since May say that won’t be enough time for full preservation.

The monastery complex has been dug out, revealing hallways and rooms decorated with frescoes and filled with clay and stone statues of standing and reclining Buddhas, some as high as 10 feet.

An area that was once a courtyard is dotted with stupas standing four or 5ft high.

More than 150 statues have been found so far, though many remain in place. Large ones are too heavy to be moved, and the team lacks the chemicals needed to keep small ones from disintegrating when extracted.

‘That site is so massive that it’s easily a 10-year campaign of archaeology,’ said Laura Tedesco, an archaeologist brought in by the US Embassy to work on sites in Afghanistan. ‘Three years may be enough time just to document what’s there.’

Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist advising the Afghans, said the salvage effort is piecemeal and ‘minimal’, held back by lack of funds and personnel.

The team hopes to lift some of the larger statues and shrines out before winter sets in this month, but they still haven’t procured the crane and other equipment needed.

Dig: A wooden Buddha statue, estimated to be about 1,400 years old, is discovered during the excavation at the sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

Dig: A wooden Buddha statue, estimated to be about 1,400 years old, is discovered during the excavation at the sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

Around 15 Afghan archaeologists, three French advisers and a few dozen labourers are working within the 0.77-square-mile area – a far smaller team than the two dozen archaeologists and 100 labourers normally needed for a site of such size and richness.

‘This is probably one of the most important points along the Silk Road,’ said Marquis. ‘What we have at this site, already in excavation, should be enough to fill the (Afghan) national museum.’

Mes Aynak, 20 miles south of Kabul, lies in a province that is still considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan.

In July, two US sailors were kidnapped and killed in Logar. Around 1,500 Afghan police guard the mine site and the road.

Mes Aynak’s religious sites and copper deposits have been bound together for centuries — ‘mes’ means ‘copper’ in the local Dari language.

Throughout the site’s history, artisanal miners have dug up copper to adorn statues and shrines.

Afghan archaeologists have known since the 1960s about the importance of Mes Aynak, but almost nothing had been excavated.

When the Chinese won the contract to exploit the mine in 2008, there was no discussion with Kabul about the ruins – only about money, security and building a railroad to transport the copper out of Logar’s dusty hills.

But a small band of Afghan and French archaeologists raised a stir and put the antiquities on the agenda.

Deadline: Archaeologists digging at the site of the ancient ruins have three years to finish the excavations

The mine could be a major boost for the Afghan economy. According to the Afghan Mining Ministry, it holds some 6 million tons of copper, worth tens of billions of dollars at today’s prices. Developing the mine and related transport infrastructure will generate much needed jobs and economic activity.

Waheedullah Qaderi, a Mining Ministry official working on the antiquities issue, said MCC shares the government goal of protecting heritage while starting mining as soon as possible.