On 6 July, the United Nations Security Council held a debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. The debate began with a briefing by Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, was given the floor after the SRSG’s remarks.
Both the SRSG and Ambassador Tanin focused on the “critical juncture,” as Ambassador Tanin put it, of transition to Afghan ownership and leadership of the country’s security. In this transition, according to Ambassador Tanin, continued international support and engagement beyond 2014 is crucial for the future stability of the country, in particular, a “lasting partnership with the UN.” The SRSG pointed out the need to focus beyond security for the transition period and address “social, economic and, frankly, human rights.”
Most participants in the meeting brought up the recent tragedies of the attacks on the hospital in Logar Province and the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Ambassador Tanin referred to the recent campaign as a display of “promo-psychodrama…a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt by the enemies of Afghanistan, designed to incite fear among people, to hinder the international support for Afghanistan, and to convince a war-weary audience in some countries that the war is unwinnable…However,” he said, “acts of terror will not shake our determination for securing peace and stability in Afghanistan.” The SRSG highlighted the effectiveness of the Afghan military and police in responding to these attacks, praising their strengthened capacity and improved abilities.
Both Ambassador Tanin and the SRSG emphasised the importance of ongoing reconciliation and reintegration efforts aimed at achieving a political solution to the conflict. In these efforts, the SRSG explained, UNAMA is functioning as a confidence-builder, as substantive discussion on these matters is the purview of the Afghan government. In this regard, he praised the Security Council’s ongoing de-listing of ex-Taliban militants from sanctions lists as a move in the right direction.
In addition, the SRSG praised progress on bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation, as well as improvements in the human rights, including women’s rights and the protection of children – though both the SRSG and Ambassador Tanin noted that civilian casualties from Taliban action continue to increase.
The other delegates of the Security Council, along with representatives from the EU, Japan, Pakistan, Canada and Turkey, expressed concern over recent escalations in the level of civilian casualties, and unanimously condemned violence against UN personnel. Nevertheless, they also reaffirmed their faith in the Afghan parliamentary process and pledged continued support of an Afghan-led reconciliation effort.
STATEMENT BY H.E. Dr. 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
At the outset allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of July. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to my good friend, SRSG Staffan De Mistura, back to the Council. I thank him for his kind remarks, for his comprehensive briefing, and for his introduction of the Secretary General’s report.
As the world has entered into a post-Bin Laden era, Afghanistan, the greatest victim of terrorism, is today at a critical juncture in its quest for peace and stability. Consistent with the outcome of the Lisbon Conference, we have begun the Transition process. In the coming days we will implement the first stage of this process in seven Afghan provinces: Kabul, Panjshir, Bamyian, and the municipalities of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province, Mehtar Lamn in Laghman province, and Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.
Transition is a rousing call for Afghans to take the lead, for national ownership and leadership and for the government of Afghanistan to assume its sovereign responsibilities. From our point of view, transition is a carefully-formulated, comprehensive strategy which presupposes not only a gradual transfer of security responsibilities until the end of 2014 to Afghan authorities, but also a conscientious drawdown of international forces, the accelerated training of the Afghan army and police, the strengthening of governance, a new regional agenda for a multifaceted cooperation, and the prospect of securing a renewed strategic partnership with the US and NATO.
The Afghan Government continues its crucial efforts to ensure that the process is smooth and viable. However, there should be no doubt, for the transition process to sustain and succeed, certain pre-conditions must be met. First and foremost, we look to our international partners to expedite the training and equipping of our security forces, and to provide them with necessary enablers.
Last month, President Obama announced the gradual drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan. We welcome the decision, and consider it to be in accordance with the recent emerging consensus between Afghanistan and the international community to move from a primarily military engagement to a more solid and enduring partnership beyond 2014. President Obama’s announcement is testament to, firstly, the steady ability of Afghan security forces, and secondly, the changed momentum of the war, despite the recent vicious attacks by the Taliban.
Contrary to some interpretations, we do not see the drawdown of international forces as an “endgame,” or as some put it, the beginning of international disengagement in Afghanistan. In the last ten years, much blood and sweat have been shed and many sacrifices made, in order to realize our common objective – lasting peace and security in the country and region.
The recent display of a “promo-psychodrama” of so-called sophisticated attacks, such as the one carried out last week in Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel or the slaughter of a dozen civilians in a hospital in Logar province, is a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt by the enemies of Afghanistan, designed to incite fear among people, to hinder the international support for Afghanistan, and to convince a war-weary audience in some countries that the war is unwinnable. Moreover, the recent campaign seeks to sabotage the future of peace talks, and undermine the prospect of reconciliation. Those who provide terrorists and extremists with money, arms and strategic guidance are equally responsible for the continued killing and brutal butchery of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is imperative to underline the necessity of ending the sanctuaries that continue to produce and prepare the ruthless killers and agents of unending destruction of Afghanistan.
However, Mr. President, acts of terror will not shake our determination for securing peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are pleased to see that an environment conducive for constructive outreach and dialogue with members of the armed opposition is now in place. The reconciliation process will be pursued as a matter of priority, consistent with the understanding that there is no purely military solution, and that transition requires an inclusive settlement. Reconciliation is aimed at bringing peace, prosperity, and unity to the country. It is not about ceding any territorial control or accommodating any representation outside of the authority of the Afghan Government. The High Peace Council (HPC) is engaged in discussions with the Taliban, and the key actors in the region to end the violence and achieve a lasting peace. It is an effort in which all segments of society, including women, are involved.
In addition, we are beginning to equally focus on regional dimensions of the reconciliation process. We underscore again the significant role of Pakistan for a reconciliation and peace, and emphasize, in this context, the importance of constructive collaboration. Yet, for such collaboration, we need to utilize necessary confidence building measures. The recent armed violations of Afghanistan’s eastern border, through hundreds of shelling and artillery fire in Kunar and Nangahar provinces, killing dozens of people, including women and children, have caused serious alarm and concern for the people and Government of Afghanistan and run the risk of undermining the spirit of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We urge immediate cessation of such attacks.
The Security Council’s recent decision to separate the Taliban sanctions regime from that of Al-Qaeda was an astute move in support of our peace and reconciliation initiative. It provides new impetus to our Afghan-led reconciliation process. We also appreciate the Council’s decision to meet our de-listing requests, and we urge further focus for acceding to our additional requests which remain unmet.
The recently held 11th Meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Afghanistan in Kabul, with broad participation from more than 50 countries, and international and regional organizations; focused on reconciliation, regional cooperation, transition to Afghan leadership and ownership, and international support beyond 2014. This meeting was held in the lead up to the upcoming conference in Istanbul, aimed at creating a “stability compact,” and the International Conference in Bonn later this year, which will review progress against the goals of transition, looking into the long-term support of the international community, and advancing the political process, including reconciliation and regional partnerships.
A decade of international and regional interactions in Afghanistan is leading to the emergence of a “new silk road,” defining the shared benefits of the regional cooperation. This year we have engaged in an increasingly palpable collaboration with our neighbors and region, expanding the horizon of understanding and the scope of joint efforts.
With Pakistan, during last month’s visit of President Karzai to Islamabad, a promising outlook for close cooperation and realization of common vision not only for development but also peace was envisaged. The visit was followed by an extensive discussion within the trilateral framework of the “Core Group” between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US which recently held its third meeting in Kabul.
During the latest visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India extended its support for Afghan-led reconciliation efforts and announced a significant increase of assistance to Afghanistan.
We also continue to have numerous exchanges with Iran, Russia, China, Central and South Asian countries, and the Arab world. The opportunities that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan can offer for the prosperity and security in the region, are ever-more evident. We will continue our constructive engagement with regional partners to realize our common goals.
Securing Afghanistan and its future is about empowering the country, and enabling it to stand on its own feet, and to take charge of its own destiny. In this regard, we look forward to the up-coming review of UNAMA’s mandate as essential for aligning the UN’s role with the evolving needs of transition. We are convinced that a more harmonized, streamlined and coordinated UN, based on One UN approach, is vital for furthering the efficiency, and effectiveness of the UN in Afghanistan. We look forward to lasting partnership with the UN during transition and beyond.
The government of Afghanistan will continue to improve governance, enhance its fight against corruption, and strengthen transparency and accountability in our national institutions. To this end, we will build on existing measures, to make sure that anyone involved in illegal activities will be held accountable. The Afghan government’s recent apprehension of two senior executives of Kabul Bank implicated for financial mismanagement is testimony to our firm commitment to accountability and rule of law. We have presented the Attorney General’s office with a list of all accused individuals. A comprehensive investigation of the Kabul Bank fiasco is underway, which should lead to restoration of debts and bringing all culprits involved in the case to justice. We are convinced that the final outcome of the investigations will meet both the concerns of the Afghan people, and our international partners.
Ongoing consultations are underway to resolve the dispute which arose from irregularities during our parliamentary elections. The Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to resolving the issue within the framework of a legal and political solution.
Far too many innocent Afghans have lost their lives as a result of prolonged violence, insecurity and fighting. Civilian casualties are not just about figures or numbers; it is about the loss of innocent life of men, women, children, village elders, health workers, teachers, and aid workers. The Taliban have primarily been responsible for such killings and display a total lack of conscience when pulling the trigger against innocent civilians or those who protect local people. However, the number of casualties caused by NATO forces, despite their own repeated calls for commitment to protect civilians, remains significant. We reiterate our call for an immediate end to civilian casualties.
As we move forward, we must think beyond ending the war, towards ensuring sustainable progress across all sectors, security, governance and development. Our goal remains the vision of a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. For this to be achieved, we must build on the gains of the past, and forge a feasible frame work of cooperation with the region and a long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community. The coming years will be crucial for our joint success. Together will we be able to accomplish the task we began ten years ago.
Thank You Mr. President.