Friday, July 25, 2014

Afghanistan Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Zahir Tanin, Addresses UN General Assembly on the Situation in Afghanistan

November 4, 2010 – The United Nations General Assembly today convened to adopt its annual resolution on the “Situation in Afghanistan.” The adoption of the resolution signifies the GA’s continued support and commitment for lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
During his statement, Ambassador Tanin outlined the many important developments which took place over the course of the year. Among them include President Karzai national agenda, announced in November of last year, which prioritized reintegration and reconciliation, security, governance, development and regional cooperation for the coming years. He also highlighted Afghanistan’s national consultative peace-jirga; the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences, and the holding of recent Afghan parliamentary elections.

In the area of socio-economic development, he said that “the average income had nearly quadrupled since 2001”, while “government revenue surpassed one billion dollars for the time,” in Afghanistan’s history. In the areas of education and health, he referred to the “71% student enrollment rate, construction of 4,000 schools over the past nine years, and increased accessibility to health-care, including immunization for children, which has led to a decrease in the under-five and infant mortality rates. With regard to empowerment of women, he said Afghan women would make up more than quarter of the Afghan national assembly. Further, he stated that the percentage of female government employees had increased to 18 percent and number of females serving in Afghanistan’s national security forces (ANSF) exceeded 1,000.

Turning to the recent parliamentary elections, he noted that the recent polls were the first which were led by Afghans, and highlighted the broad participation of all segments of society in the elections. “This recent election included 2,556 candidates, 406 of whom were women.  Millions of Afghans cast their ballot to choose 249 members of parliament, shaping our nation’s future by strengthening Afghan institutions and building momentum for stabilization,” said Ambassador Tanin.

Ambassador Zahir Tanin at the General Assembly Plenary Meeting on the Situation in Afghanistan

Ambassador Tanin alluded to continued efforts of the Afghan government to strengthen bilateral cooperation and collaboration with neighboring and regional partners. In that regard, he referred to President Karzai’s visits to China in March, India in April, Japan in June and Pakistan in September. He also underscored President Karzai’s participation in various regional forums, including the South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Bhutan in April, as well as the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey Trilateral in January; Afghanistan-Iran and Tajikistan Trilateral in Tehran; Afghanistan-Iran-Tajikistan Trilateral in Tehran, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Tajikistan-Russian Federation Trilateral in SOCHI.

On security, Ambassador Tanin noted that terrorists and extremists continued their efforts to expand the scope of their attacks. “The Taliban and its allies continue their attempts to increase insecurity and spread violence to new parts of the country.  The violent campaigns of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children,” he said. He however affirmed that Afghanistan and its international partners continued progress in the fight against terrorism by disrupting and defeating the activities of extremist groups.

In addition, he underscored “effective regional cooperation” as “vital for peace and security in the country,” while stressing the need for meaningful and sincere cooperation at the regional level. In that regard, he emphasized increased focus on “ending sanctuaries where terrorists continue to receive training, financial and logistical support in the region.”

Moreover, Ambassador Tanin highlighted Afghanistan’s transition strategy, which is aimed at Afghan ownership and leadership in meeting the security needs of the country.  He highlighted the up-coming NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, at which Afghanistan and its international partners would “establish steps needed for a long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan that will endure beyond the completion of NATO’s combat mission.”
He also stated that Afghanistan’s transition strategy would be among the important issues to be discussed at the NATO Summit.

Ambassador Tanin reiterated Afghanistan’s commitment in building the size and strength of its national army and police so as to “take the lead in combat operation in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full security responsibility by 2014.  He noted that the transition process would be a “gradual and conditions-based process,” which required the sustained support of the international community for increased Afghan security force capability.
He also said that achieving peace and security would not be possible by military means alone.  He noted that “reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country.” He referred to Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative, aimed at “reconciling those who would like to join the peace process.”  In that regard he emphasized that “human rights, including the rights of women would remain a priority,” throughout the reconciliation process.

Ambassador Tanin reiterated the sincere thanks and appreciation of the Afghan people and government for the continued support and commitment of the United Nations, and the international community for lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.

Debate on Agenda Item 105: International Drug Control

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 105: International Drug Control

Mr. Chairman,

Honored Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As this is the first time I take the floor, allow me to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your election as Chair of the Third Committee.  Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout the work of this Committee.  In addition, I want to thank Mr. Antonio Maria Costa for his excellent briefing, for UNODC’s 2009 World Drug Report, and for the ongoing support that UNODC has offered to our efforts, in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite the current challenges in Afghanistan, I am pleased to inform you that our counter-narcotics efforts have seen remarkable progress across-the-board this past year. Today, I will highlight four areas that have seen particular success, and outline some suggestions for improvement on those achievements to address our remaining challenges.

First, directly as a result of our efforts, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is down 22%, and opium production down 10% – a marked decrease from last year.  The number of poppy-free provinces has increased from 18 to 20.  Our most remarkable decrease has been in the Helmand province, which has seen a 33% drop in poppy cultivation compared to 2008.  To solidify this progress, the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics plans to destroy an additional 40 thousand hectares of poppy this year.  With the help of our international partners, our focus in the coming months and years should be on promoting viable alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers. This could be in the form of replacement crops, like saffron in Herat, or through other development projects, particularly in light industry or the exploitation of natural resources. In any case, without viable alternative livelihoods, our progress towards a poppy-free country will never be sustainable.

Second, the Afghan government has strengthened its counter-narcotics infrastructure and improved governmental coordination under the umbrella of the National Drug Control Strategy.  Recent actions by the Afghan government have achieved real progress.  For example, the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics recently held a national conference in Kabul for governors and others to discuss best practices, and is currently running an awareness-raising campaign in 26 provinces that involves religious leaders and the media, and has indirectly reached over 15 million Afghans.  Also, the Afghan Parliament recently passed a strengthened anti-drug law enforcement bill.  Further, the Ministry of Justice has created a special court to try counter-narcotics cases, and the Ministry of the Interior has a dedicated police force for counter-narcotics efforts.  However, national and global illicit economies fueled by the drug trade undermine many of our efforts towards good governance and strong state institutions.  We need to focus our collective efforts on capacity building, strengthening institutions, and improving rule of law. With the support of the international community, the Afghan government is fully committed to making further progress in this area.

Third, Afghanistan has made huge strides toward improved cooperation with neighboring countries.  This year, utilizing the framework of the Triangular Initiative, the counter-narcotics agencies of Afghanistan and the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan successfully conducted joint operations against drug trafficking networks along our borders, which resulted in many arrests and the seizure of a considerable quantity of narcotics. Within the framework of UNODC’s Operation TARCET II, launched in May of this year, Afghanistan has worked closely with other governments in the region through, inter alia, a joint training session for border control agents and counter-narcotics police. To build on these developments, the Government of Afghanistan, the international community and the region should continue to strengthen cooperation in line with the Paris Pact, the “Rainbow Strategy,” Security Council Resolution 1817 and others, with particular focus on preventing the illegal transport of precursor chemicals into Afghanistan.

Fourth, Afghanistan has improved coordination and cooperation with the international community.   Last year NATO agreed to increase assistance to the Afghan government’s counter-narcotics efforts, and in the first half of this year a joint Afghan-NATO military operation successfully destroyed over 90 tons of chemical precursors, 459 tons of poppy seeds, 51 tons of opium, 7 tons of morphine, 1.5 tons of heroin, 19 tons of cannabis resin, and 44 illicit laboratories.  Afghanistan also has increased our bilateral efforts with countries in the region and internationally on this issue, particularly to address trafficking. This year, we signed a new anti-drug agreement with Russia focused on stopping trafficking and halting the transport of precursors, and we fully supported the recent American decision to shift the counter-narcotics focus in Afghanistan away from crop eradication and towards alternative livelihoods and economic development. In addition, we participated actively in the recent meeting of the SCO on Afghanistan, which focused on the issues of terrorism and drug trafficking, and hope that this and similar initiatives will help bring a wider regional and international perspective to our discussion. Internationally, we continue to work closely with UNODC and the INCB to address all issues relating to drugs, and we remain very grateful for their comprehensive assistance. In addition to our efforts in Afghanistan, we should also continue to pursue comprehensive, global strategies that address all aspects of the drug problem, from cultivation to consumption. A successful fight against drugs requires increased efforts to reduce not just production, but also demand.

However, Mr. Chairman,

Profits from the illegal narcotics trade fuel the activities of terrorists and criminals around the world, including those in our region. A substantial challenge remains the strong correlation between insecurity and drug production. In Afghanistan, 98% of poppy cultivation occurs in the provinces with the highest levels of insecurity.  Therefore, in addition to the suggestions outlined above, one of our fundamental priorities should remain the overall improvement of the security situation, particularly through training the Afghan National Army and Police.

Mr. Chairman,

Drugs and the drug trade are directly responsible for the preventable deaths of millions of people every year, and are indirectly linked to millions more. In addition, tens of millions worldwide, including an increasing number in Afghanistan, face serious health consequences from regular drug use. In developing countries particularly, this is a problem that targets the poorest and most hopeless. It is our joint duty here to do everything possible to curtail the production and consumption of these harmful substances. The Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to this goal, and we look forward to working with our international partners to address this ongoing threat as quickly as possible.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Taliban’s Foreign Support Vexes U.S.

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN-

U.S. officials recently concluded that the Afghan Taliban may receive as much money from foreign donors as it does from opium sales, potentially hindering the Obama administration’s strategy to rehabilitate Afghanistan by stopping the country’s drug trade.

Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in a recent interview that the Taliban has three main sources of funding: drug revenue; payments from legitimate businesses that are secretly owned by the armed group or that pay it kickbacks; and donations from foreign charitable foundations and individuals.

“You have funds generated locally, funds that come in from the outside, and funds that come from the illegal narcotics business,” he said. “It’s a hotly debated topic as to which is the most significant and it may be that they are all roughly around the same level.”

Gen. Petraeus estimated that the Taliban raise a total of “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars” each year from the three sources, and said the U.S. doesn’t have precise figures.

The Taliban have depended in part on foreign support for decades. In an interview last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said some Afghan militants could draw on “external funding channels” created in the 1980s for wealthy Muslims — with U.S. support — to funnel money to Islamic fighters battling the Soviet military. “It wouldn’t surprise me if those channels have remained open,” he said.

Two senior U.S. officials said the Central Intelligence Agency has identified individuals and charities suspected of providing the bulk of the Taliban funding, but declined to name them, citing continuing operations to disrupt the money flows.

Senior U.S. officials said the Taliban received significant donations from Pakistan — where sympathy for the group is widespread in the country’s Pashtun community — and Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Pakistani Ambassador Hussein Haqqani said his government had frozen hundreds of bank accounts tied to the Taliban and other extremist groups and said the effort is a “work in progress.”

“The extremist networks continue to find new financing schemes and methods to evade law enforcement,” he said.

A senior Saudi official here said his government regularly arrested citizens suspected of funneling money to armed groups such as the Taliban but questioned the extent of the practice. The official said Saudi charities are barred from sending money outside the country.

“If the Americans have actionable intelligence on Saudis who are supporting the Taliban, they should provide us the intelligence, and we will act on it,” he said.

Officials from the Kuwaiti Embassy declined to comment.

The Taliban’s ability to continually replenish its coffers concerns U.S. policy makers such as Mr. Gates, who conjectured in the interview that American public support for the war will dissipate before the end of the year unless the administration achieves a “perceptible shift in momentum” there.

American officials said most of the money was sent to the Taliban through the informal hawala money-transfer system — a network of money brokers with little outside oversight. A 2006 World Bank report about Afghanistan said the hawala system “carries out the majority of the country’s cash payments and transfers.”

The resurgent Taliban have been mounting attacks in recent months, inflicting heavy casualties on U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan soldiers. On Thursday, U.S.-led forces raided a suspected foreign-fighter camp in eastern Afghanistan, setting off a gun fight that killed 34 militants, according to an Afghan official.
-Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.

Source: The Wall Street Journal