Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations at the Security Council
on the Situation in Afghanistan
I should like to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of March, while expressing my delegation’s appreciation for convening today’s meeting on the Situation in Afghanistan.
My delegation would also like to seize this opportunity to warmly welcome Dr. Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, and Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, back to this Council. We extend our gratitude for their informative briefings.
In addition, we are also pleased to have H.E. Massimo D’Alema, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, among us in today’s discussion.
My delegation is grateful to the Secretary General for his comprehensive report on the situation in Afghanistan. His report provides an overview of the current situation and the multiple threats that we continue to face alongside our international partners.
In assessing the current situation in Afghanistan, we must look back to where Afghanistan was five and half years ago. We are well aware of the many achievements that have taken place since 2001 – to which we have referred to on numerous occasions before this Council. Therefore, I shall limit my comments to some of the most pressing challenges facing both Afghanistan and the international community in our joint endeavor towards achieving lasting peace, stability and prosperity in my country.
Terrorism, narcotics, weak state institutions and the slow pace of economic development are among our main challenges. As such, it would be safe to state that we have jointly underestimated the magnitude of the challenges facing Afghanistan. Therefore, it is ever more obvious that the renewed commitment of the international community is required to address the remaining obstacles and consolidate the gains of the past years.
The prevailing security situation remains forefront among our challenges. Regrettably, we witnessed in 2006 a significant surge in terrorist related activities, occurring mainly along the southern parts of the country. These activities have not only affected the daily lives of the Afghan people, but have also had a significant negative impact on various sectors, including health and education, as well as development and reconstruction projects undertaken with the support of our international partners.
Particularly worrisome was the fact that the Taliban and extremist elements resorted to the abhorrent practice of suicide attacks, a phenomenon relatively unknown in Afghan history. According to our records, an estimated 123 incidents of suicide bombings were carried out during the previous year. These attacks remain a great source of concern to both the Afghan Government and the international community as they terrorize the lives of ordinary people.
Improving security in Afghanistan will require a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach, one which will address both the internal and regional dimensions of the problem. Internally, our national army and police lack the number of personnel required to effectively combat a resurgent enemy force. Therefore, accelerating the recruitment and training of our security forces will be crucial to achieve our intended goal of a 68,000 standing army and 82,000 police force by the end of 2008. The success of our security institutions to combat effectively a revitalized and well-equipped enemy force will depend largely on the level of international assistance in terms of financial, logistical and technical support.
In this regard, we welcome the recent decision taken by the United States of America, NATO allies and other international partners to increase in their level of financial and military assistance to our security forces.
The regional dimension relates directly to the presence of foreign sanctuaries that train, equip, recruit and indoctrinate extremist fighters carrying out attacks in Afghanistan. As indicated in paragraph five of the Secretary General’s report, [and I quote] “Many attacks appear to have been financed from abroad. According to national and international security sources, the training camps for these attacks are located outside Afghanistan” [end of quote].
It has by now become evident that unless the external sources of insecurity are addressed in a comprehensive and resolute manner, our efforts to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan may go in vain. The threat posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremists is not limited to Afghanistan alone, rather it puts at risk the stability of the region and beyond. We are pleased to note that this fact has finally been acknowledged by the wider international community.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan attaches great importance to the role of regional cooperation in the combat against terrorism. While commending the crucial role of the international community in providing security, we are of the firm conviction that regional cooperation will be indispensable to achieving our shared goal of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. We welcome, in this respect, the recent arrest of the former Defense Minister of the Taliban by the authorities of the Government of Pakistan. We hope that such measures will continue in a sustainable manner.
Afghanistan continues to maintain high-level and constructive contacts with the Government of Pakistan, with a view to improving security along the border region. These interactions are taking place both within the framework of the Tripartite Commission, as well as on a bilateral basis. Efforts are now underway to convene a cross-border Jirgah of tribal and influential figures from both sides of the border. In this connection, we are pleased to inform that the first preparatory meeting of the Jirgah Commissions took place on the 14th of March. The next meeting is scheduled to convene in Kabul in the coming month.
We look forward to the up-coming Third Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, scheduled to convene in Islamabad in late 2007. The conference will offer another opportunity to further enhance regional cooperation in achieving security and development in Afghanistan.
Apart from security, another area which requires due attention is the social and economic development of the country. The inextricable link between development and security necessitates a particular focus on accelerating the pace of implementing development and reconstruction projects throughout the country. This will, in turn, have a positive impact in creating employment opportunities and providing basic services to achieve substantial and sustainable progress in improving the daily lives of the people. In this regard, a particular focus should be accorded to conflict affected areas.
As the principal mechanism mandated to coordinate the efforts of Afghanistan and the international community in the implementation of the interim National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Compact, the Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board (JCMB) has proven its importance. My delegation, therefore, underscores the need to further strengthen the role of the Board with a view to improving the effectiveness of international aid and promoting greater international engagement.
Our efforts alone, no matter how intense or skillful, will not be sufficient to enhance the capacity of our State institutions in order to meet the needs of the people. While expressing our sincere appreciation for the support of the international community over the past five and half years, it is worth mentioning that Afghanistan has received far less assistance from the donor community in comparison to other post-conflict countries. We, therefore, reiterate the need for increased and sustained assistance to meet the benchmarks of our National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Compact. In this context, we believe that better coordination of donor assistance will serve beneficial in achieving greater transparency and tangible results.
The combat against narcotics remains a top priority of Afghanistan, as it poses a threat to the stability and security in Afghanistan and the region, given its nexus with terrorist-related activities. Alleviating this menace from the region will require a concerted effort by the international community. In our part, we have initiated a series of substantial measures to that effect. The national drug control strategy forms the basis of our counter-narcotics endeavors.
It should be noted that the successful implementation of the strategy will only be realized if we are able to provide other modes of legal economic activity. Regional cooperation will be key in overcoming this common threat. In this regard, we underscore the need for an equal effort on the part of transit and consuming countries, in accordance with the principle of shared responsibility.
We pay tribute to the United Nations for its central role in leading international efforts to implement the Afghanistan Compact. In this context, we welcome the intention of UNAMA to expand its presence to additional provinces in the country as an important step towards further strengthening UN activities in Afghanistan.
As we have now entered a critical phase in building a prosperous Afghanistan, it is ever more imperative that we maintain the level of international consensus on Afghanistan and to intensify our efforts to overcome the remaining challenges. We look forward to continue working with our international partners to achieve our shared objectives, and remain committed more than ever to realize the vision set out in the Afghanistan Compact. I would like to also seize this opportunity to express our appreciation for the sustained support of the international community to our efforts aimed at achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
In conclusion, we would like to thank Dr. Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, and the members of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan for their tireless efforts in carrying out their important mandate.
Thank you Mr. President.