Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENTBY H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the General Assembly debate on  agenda item 38 “The Situation in Afghanistan”

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here today to discuss the annual resolution on “The Situation in Afghanistan.”  I wish to extend my gratitude to all delegations who have contributed to the debate, and to all of the co-sponsors, whose collective work on this resolution reaffirms a unified commitment to shaping a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

I would like to further express my appreciation to H.E. Peter Wittig, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Mr. Daniel Krull, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Germany, and their entire team for their great diligence and efforts to chair the informal negotiations and coordinate the positions of member countries for the support of this resolution.

Mr. President,

Last year, in November, just after President Karzai’s re-election, he set forth an ambitious national agenda for the next five years.  In his inaugural statement, President Karzai called for all who are willing to renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution to join the peace process and embrace national reconciliation.  He asserted the determination of the country to take the lead in ensuring security and stability with continued international support.  He also committed to establishing a competent, clean, transparent government, promoting good governance, and fighting corruption.  In his speech, the President reaffirmed the commitment of the Afghan government to focus on economic development, growth, and the well being of Afghan people.  He set out the aim for greater regional cooperation in all areas, and finally expressed with appreciation the desire to further the partnership between Afghanistan and its international allies.

The President’s national agenda marked a new beginning for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet. The commitments made highlighted the readiness of the Afghan government and the international community to embark on a transition to national leadership and national ownership.

Mr. President,

In January, the international community came together for the London Conference to align international support with Afghanistan’s efforts regarding security, governance and development, as stated in President Karzai’s inauguration speech.  This conference was an opportunity to establish concrete plans for transforming Afghanistan’s commitments into realities. Through engaging with our international partners, mutual security goals were set and specific measures for tackling corruption, achieving national reconciliation, and improving the delivery of basic services were presented.

In May, the Presidents of Afghanistan and the United States, with members of both governments, met in Washington in order to assess jointly the prospect of a successful new focus on Afghanistan.  This meeting aimed to strengthen the partnership between the US and Afghanistan, and solidified the united efforts of the two nations for sustainable cooperation, peace and stability in the region.

In June, The National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ) jumpstarted our reconciliation process with aims to end the violence and unify our nation.  By consulting with different leaders for ideas and proposals we began to align all peace efforts in the country. The Jirga included 1,600 delegates representing a wide variety of segments of Afghan society including both men and women from all over the country.  The conference spawned a unified call to end the miseries of this war and move together toward peace.

In July, the Kabul Conference hosted by the Afghan government and co-chaired by the United Nations marked an important step forward in the continued empowerment of Afghanistan to assume its leadership role, which is key for a successful transition process.  It was the first time that high representatives of more than 70 countries and international organizations came together on Afghan soil.  The conference furthered the international commitments made in the London Conference. The resulting agreement secured a significant increase in the amount of international funding that would be channeled through the Afghan Government, reflecting renewed support for national ownership.

The conference crafted the Kabul Process, which is the new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan government.  It also developed a new compact between the Afghan government, the Afghan people, and the international community. The Kabul Process also had a major focus on regional relationships, encouraging improved cooperation between all regional parties. At the conference, Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy: Prioritization and Implementation Plan, was presented, which reflects the renewed commitment of Afghanistan’s government to building a secure and democratic future.

In September, we had our second parliamentary election, which, as the first Afghan-led election, represents a significant transition to leadership and responsibility in the hands of the Afghan people. This recent election included 2,556 candidates, 406 of whom are women.  Millions of Afghans cast their ballots to choose 249 members of the parliament, shaping our nation’s future by strengthening Afghan institutions and building momentum for stabilization.  More than one million votes were discounted in this election, reflecting the seriousness with which the Afghan electoral institutions attribute to fairness in this election, and marking a courageous demonstration of regulating and protecting democracy.

Mr. President,

Throughout the year, the Government of Afghanistan made strong efforts to enhance and strengthen trust and cooperation with its neighbours and regional partners.  The government sought to involve regional players not only in peace and security, but in trade, development, and economic cooperation.  President Karzai visited China in March, India in April, Japan in June and Pakistan in September.  He attended the 16th annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Bhutan in April. Important trilateral summits from the year include those with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey in Istanbul in January, with Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan in Tehran in August, and Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in Tehran in January.  Afghanistan participated in a quadrilateral along with Pakistan, Tajikistan and Russia in Sochi, and was a guest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting of the council of heads of states in Uzbekistan.

As we speak, the fourth round of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECCA) in Turkey is finishing, and through Afghanistan’s participation, our government aims to promote economic cooperation with all countries in the region, international partners and financial institutions. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have played important roles in strengthening the process of regional and economic cooperation, through measures such as facilitating regional trade and infrastructural connectivity.

Mr. President,

With our fresh start mapped out by President Karzai’s National agenda, and consistent help of the international community, this first year, our Year of Refocus, was one marked by hard work and rewarded by notable progress.  Despite our busy calendar year, we have made substantial strides in the areas of economic growth and human rights advancements as we near our national goals.

While challenges remain ahead, progress has been made in all areas including economic advancement, women’s rights, education, and health. Our average income has quadrupled since 2001, and government revenue in the past year surpassed one billion dollars for the first time. Women will make up over a quarter of our parliament after this election and are currently 18% of government employees.  There are now more than 1,000 women in Afghan National Security Forces and we have ambitious plans to increase this number in the coming years.  Women and girls now have equal access to education, and make up 37% of the 7 million students in Afghanistan. The 71% student enrollment rate is also a sign of our success in improving education in our country.  We have built 4,000 school buildings in the last nine years and plan to build 2,900 more by the end of 2013. Furthermore, by providing basic health services to nearly 90% of our population, health care in Afghanistan has improved greatly. Our immunization efforts have helped millions of children, and infant and under five mortality rates continue to improve.

Mr. President,

Important steps have been taken to promote good governance, rule of law, and fight corruption.  The government of Afghanistan has progressed in this regard, including through establishing the Senior Appointments Panel and strengthening the power of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC). Last year, our commitment to good governance was demonstrated by the prosecutions of dozens of corrupt officials.

Our fight against narcotics has seen progress over time.  The number of Poppy-free provinces has maintained at 20, and there has been a major reduction in the production of opium this year. Meanwhile, our efforts to fight illicit narcotics continue as we work with regional and international partners on all aspects of this global challenge.

Mr. President,

Security is the most immediate and critical challenge facing Afghanistan, and is also the most basic building block of progress. 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. It has further destroyed our economy and what we have worked so hard to build throughout the last decade. Our aim is to stop this momentum and despite the challenges we continue to make important strides in the fight against terrorism.  During this year, Afghanistan’s partners and friends increased the number of forces and engaged to disrupt and defeat the murderous activities of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. As we meet here today, the Afghan and international forces continue fighting together to stop terrorists and violent activities of armed groups.

Mr. President,

With all the important steps taken throughout the course of the year, and with international support, my government is prepared to intensify efforts and work together to launch the transition process.  We are committed to taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon the full support of our friends and partners in helping to build the size, strength and operational capability of Afghan security forces.

Afghans know that ultimately, it is the responsibility of our own Afghan forces to defend the country and provide security for our people. Therefore, a new focus on the accelerated training and equipping of the Afghan National Security Forces is vital for security and for a successful transition.  We hope that at the end of this transition period, the Afghan army and police will be able to take full responsibility within Afghanistan as intended. We have increased the number of National Security Forces significantly. With the help of our partners, we now have approximately 130,000 soldiers and 106,000 police. We plan to increase that number to 171,000 soldiers and 134,000 police by October 2011. The strengthening and development of the Afghan armed forces largely depends on the immediate end to parallel private security structures.  In the coming years, the Afghan armed forces will require the continued commitment and sustained support of NATO and our main allies and partners.

Later this month, a NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. This Summit will be another important milestone in our partnership with NATO. Among the important issues discussed at the Summit will be Afghanistan’s transition strategy. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with NATO and expect to establish the steps needed for a long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan that will endure beyond the completion of NATO’s combat mission.

Mr. President,

Military strategies alone are not sufficient for the success of stabilization efforts. The peace process necessitates national reconciliation, outreach to the people, and sustainable partnerships with the region and international community.

Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country. It is a reasonable and a responsible policy to open the door for reconciling those who would like to join the peace process. We are not only committed to such a policy, but have embraced it through our actions.  Outreach to the armed opposition has led to their inclusion in peace talks, as an effort for achieving peace and security, while our government and international partners continue to end the armed activities of the enemies of peace and progress. Throughout our reconciliation process, human rights, including the rights of women remain a high priority.

Secondly, outreach to the Afghan people is more than a communication strategy. Afghans from all segments of society should be more actively involved in the political arena, and play a role in promoting security, defense and development.  We must ensure an environment in which all Afghan people feel that they are the masters of their own destinies.  This will enable them to participate in the betterment of Afghan society.

Thirdly, regional cooperation is vital for peace and security in the country. In order to address terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking, we must have meaningful cooperation and conduct sincere and effective dialogue with our neighbors. Ending sanctuaries where terrorists continue to receive training, financial, and logistical support in the region is a necessary element for eliminating terrorism.  Additionally, Afghanistan is firmly committed to enhancing economic cooperation in the region.  We recently signed several trade agreements, which seek to increase bilateral and multilateral trade and create opportunities for prosperity. Afghanistan is a connecting bridge between Central and South Asia and all could benefit from economic cooperation, trade, and investment.  This role can be enhanced within the new frameworks of regional cooperation based on mutual commitments made in various forms.

Mr. President,

Essential to our efforts is the continued support of our friends and allies.  We appreciate their commitments and sacrifices, despite the economic struggles of recent years.  We aim to work actively together to move beyond today’s military activities and share our energies for establishing stability and long-term cooperation.

While it is important to assess our efforts consistently, we must recognize the progress we have made and the need to allow time for transition to continue in the ripe moments for change.  The strength of our partnership with the international community is crucial for the stability of our people and the people of the world.

Mr. President,

The current resolution on the situation in Afghanistan is a reaffirmation of the commitment of the international community for the betterment of our country. We know all too well the seriousness of the challenges ahead, but with the strength from enduring and now overcoming decades of war and tragedies, and the sustained support of international partners, our nation can emerge, united for peace and prosperity. Our continued transition is not only about handing over leadership to the Afghan government, but also transforming our entire national landscape and culture from one afflicted with war to one that is graced with peace.

I thank you.

Foreign Minister Rassoul Addresses UN Security Council on Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Afghanistan, today addressed an open-debate of the UN Security Council on the “Situation in Afghanistan.”

News

The meeting, which convened to consider the recent report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, was also attended by the Special Representative of the UNSG, Staffan di Mistura.

In his statement, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul first discussed Afghanistan’s recent parliamentary elections, noted that despite intimidations and threats of attacks, including assassinations by extremists, millions of Afghanistan from all segments of society took part in the elections, reaffirming their “steadfast commitment to democracy and self-determination.” He highlighted the broad participation among the youth and girls. “The unprecedented number of young candidates and voters illustrates the degree to which democracy is taking root in Afghan society.  Further, the significant increase in women’s participation is testament to the further empowerment of women in Afghan political life.”

He said for the coming years Afghanistan would pursue a comprehensive strategy to implement the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences. He further asserted that Afghanistan would work towards gradual leadership in all areas, including security, development and governance.  On security he said Afghanistan would strive to build the size, capacity and operational capability of its security forces “for taking the lead role in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011, and meeting the security’s security obligations independently by 2014, with international forces offering back-up support.”  He also reiterated Afghanistan appeal for continued international support and assistance in the building of Afghan security forces.

Further, he highlighted the up-coming NATO Summit in Lisbon, at which the Afghan government would come together with partner-countries to “crystallize our joint strategy for transition to Afghan security lead over the coming years.” At the conference Afghanistan would also update its international partners on progress in strengthening Afghan security forces.

He added for transition to succeed, Afghanistan and the international community had to find a solution to the ongoing security problem.  He underscored a comprehensive strategy for improving security, including a “comprehensive and robust out-reach initiative.” He said Afghanistan would pursue the implantation of its reintegration and reconciliation initiative,
to ensure an honorable place in society for members of the armed opposition who are willing to renounce violence, accept our constitution, return to normal life and embrace international human rights.”   He said Afghanistan had established a “High-Peace-Council, to oversee the implementation of our reintegration and reconciliation strategy.”

Foreign Minister Rassoul noted that terrorism posed a serious threat to the security and stability of the region and beyond, and expressed Afghanistan concern about the “continued presence of safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region where terrorists receive recruitment, training and logistical support.”

alluded to the situation in Afghanistan, and said the increased awareness of the need to re-engage the Afghan people in the reconstruction and stabilization of their country has helped enable the government of Afghanistan and its international partners to “focus on finding ways to meet the needs and expectations of the Afghan people.”

He however asserted that civilians continued to “pay a staggering price in the ongoing conflict” in the country. He said over six thousand Afghans, including women; children and the elderly were killed and injured in just last year. In that regard, he said the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies continue to show complete disregard for human life, embracing assassinations and executions in an effort to control the population through terror.

He said the cost of the conflict was not limited to just Afghanistan, but also international partners countries. He highlighted increased terrorist attacks on UN staff and members of humanitarian organizations who work in various fields, including health and education.  In that regard, Ambassador Tanin expressed gratitude to UN staff and other partners “who continue to work under difficult circumstances for the sake of the Afghan people, and in pursuit of international peace and security.”

Moreover, he welcomed the increased measures by former ISAF former commander, General McCrystal, aimed at better protecting the lives of civilians.  He expressed confidence that civilian protection would continue to receive due consideration from ISAF’s new commander, General Patraeus.

He nevertheless noted that civilian casualties remained a concern to Afghanistan, and undermined the people’s confidence in the good-will of the international community.  He emphasized increased efforts at the national level “for building an efficient, effective and responsible army and police force dedicated to the protection of Afghans and maintenance of security and the rule of law.”

Ambassador Tanin also said the safety of the Afghan people should remain a priority, and it was necessary to enhance collaboration for strengthening the trust and confidence of Afghans in future efforts.

Statement

Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul,

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

At the Security Council Open-Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan,

29 September 2010

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening today’s meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, and congratulate the government of Turkey in assuming the Council Presidency for the month of September. I also thank Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his most recent report on Afghanistan, and SRSG Staffan di Mistura for his comprehensive briefing.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting comes at a crucial time in Afghanistan just over three months after the Kabul Conference, and less than two weeks since the holding of our parliamentary elections. I am pleased to be among you today, to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan, and shed light on the strategy we will pursue to end violence, and achieve lasting peace and security.

Mr. President,

I want to begin by saying a few words about our recent elections, which gave Afghans another chance to shape their future, and consolidate our young democracy. Millions of Afghans from all segments of society braved intimidations and threats of attacks, including assassinations, to cast their vote.  As such, Afghans reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to democracy and self-determination. The unprecedented number of young candidates and voters illustrates the degree to which democracy is taking root in Afghan society. Further, the significant increase in women’s participation is testament to the further empowerment of women in Afghan political life.

Our elections were a major victory for democracy in Afghanistan. Let me take the opportunity to convey our gratitude to the United Nations and other partners for providing financial and technical support for our elections.

Mr. President,

Just three months ago, Afghanistan and our international partners gathered at the international Kabul Conference to renew our partnership for durable peace, security and stability.  Together, we adopted the “Kabul Process,” which focuses on increased Afghan leadership across the board. We also presented our 23 national priority programs, including the national security policy and our national reconciliation initiative, all of which were endorsed by the international community.

Mr. President,
Going forward, Afghanistan will pursue a comprehensive strategy to implement the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences. We will work towards gradual leadership in all state of affairs, security, development and governance in particular. Our objective is clear: a gradual transfer of responsibilities towards self-reliance in ensuring social and economic opportunities for all Afghans, and enforcing the rule of law throughout the country. In the area of security, we will work to build the size, capacity and operational capability of Afghanistan’s national security forces.  In doing so, we will meet a vital pre-condition for taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011, and for meeting our security obligations independently by 2014, with international forces offering back-up support. In achieving this goal, I want to reiterate the importance of sustained international support for the training, resourcing and equipping of the Afghan national army and police.

Moreover, we have committed to a comprehensive social and economic agenda to improve the lives of all Afghans, and achieve a sustainable Afghan economy. In particular, we are giving special focus to agricultural development, rural rehabilitation, human resource development and economic and infrastructure development to generate employment opportunities and meet the immediate needs of our people. I seize this opportunity to convey Afghanistan’s thanks and appreciation for the international community’s support and assistance. Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that Afghanistan will not be able to realize its development goals without greater responsibility for our finances. Afghans must have a greater role in their own development. We welcome the international community’s decision to channel 50% of donor assistance through our national budget by January 2012.  This will lead to greater transparency and efficiency in utilization of development assistance by donor countries.

Mr. President,

At the same time, we have embarked on a reinvigorated effort to combat corruption, and strengthen governance at all levels. Afghans are well aware of the detrimental effect of this menace on the dignity, image and prosperity of our country. We are fully committed to ridding corruption from our society effectively and resolutely.
Mr. President,

In less than two months from now, Afghanistan and its NATO partners will gather at the NATO Summit in Lisbon to crystallize our joint strategy for transition to Afghan security lead over the coming years.  We will update our international partners on our progress in the building of our security forces, and discuss remaining challenges to that effect.

Mr. President,

For transition to succeed, we first have to find a solution to Afghanistan’s ongoing security problem. Afghanistan has endured violence for more than thirty years.  Almost ten years since the start of our joint efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, security remains a problem. We have prioritized ending violence and providing Afghans with what has eluded them for decades: the chance to live in peace and security. There will be no peace unless military efforts are complemented by a robust and comprehensive out-reach initiative. That is why President Karzai launched a “reintegration and reconciliation initiative to ensure an honorable place in society for members of the armed opposition who are willing to surrender arms, renounce violence, accept our constitution, return to normal life and embrace international human rights. We recently established the “High-Peace-Council,” to oversee the implementation of our reintegration and reconciliation. The High Council is now operational and will meet regularly. In addition, we welcome the Security Council’s review and updating of the 1267 consolidated list as important for implementing our peace initiative.  In this regard, we look forward to additional updates, on the basis of additional delisting requests.

Mr. President,

Terrorism poses a grave threat to the security and stability of our region and beyond. In this regard, we remain concerned at the continued presence of safe-haven and sanctuaries in our region where terrorists receive recruitment, training and logistical support.

Mr. President,

It is ever more evident that addressing the challenges facing Afghanistan and our region, including terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking will not be possible without meaningful cooperation at the regional level. For our part, Afghanistan remains fully committed to a sincere and effective dialogue with Pakistan and other regional countries for security and prosperity in our region.

Just recently, together with the government of Pakistan, we signed the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Trade and Transit Agreement (APPTA), aimed at increasing bilateral trade and generating employment opportunities. Moreover, the signing of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipe-line project and the conclusion of the feasibility study for the CASA 1000 project for transfer of energy in the region are milestones for the development and prosperity of our region. We are both confident that these projects will benefit security and stability in Afghanistan and the region and strengthen mutual trust and confidence.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is confident that by pursuing our comprehensive national agenda for security, development and governance, and by implementing our reintegration and reconciliation initiative, we will succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing the enemies of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan from regaining control of our country.

Mr. President,
Nine and a half years since the beginning of our partnership with the international community to defeat terrorism and achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, we have come a long way. We attribute our achievements to the sacrifices of the Afghan people and the troops of our partner countries. A transition to increased Afghan responsibility and ownership will be our main priority over the coming years.  We expect our international partners to remain by us with fortitude and commitment to ensure the successful conclusion of that transition.

Thank You Mr. President.

Secretary-General’s opening remarks at the Security Council stakeout

Good afternoon. I have just briefed the Security Council on the terrorist attacks against UNAMA [UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] which happened yesterday where five of our staff were killed and nine were wounded.

I told the Security Council of the heroism of the security officers of UNAMA. For at least an hour, and perhaps more, they held off the attackers, fighting through the corridors of the building and from the rooftop, giving their colleagues time to escape.

Without their heroism, there could have been more causalities, victims.

They were armed only with pistols against assailants carrying automatic weapons and grenades and wearing suicide vests.

Increasingly, the UN is being targeted, in this case precisely because of our support for the Afghan elections. Not counting peacekeepers, 27 UN civilian personnel have lost their lives to violence so far this year, more than half of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yesterday, I said we will not be deterred. We cannot do it alone. We need the support of the Member States. We must realistically assess the situation and put in place more effective protections for our staff as they perform their crucial tasks. This was the main purpose my briefing to the Security Council.

This morning I convened an urgent meeting of the heads of all UN departments, funds and programmes, and agencies to urgently review the evolving security environment and respond appropriately. I am going to chair the Chief Executive Board meeting tomorrow to discuss this matter where the heads of UN funds and programmes, specialized agencies and Bretton Woods institutions will all participate to discuss the security issues.

This afternoon, I asked the Security Council for its support.

This morning I received a phone from President [Hamid] Karzai of Afghanistan who assured me of the tightened security support for UNAMA and I urged him again that he should take immediate action to strengthen the security measures for the premises and staff, for their safety and security.

Tomorrow, I plan to brief the General Assembly. I will ask for expedited action for our security measures, so that we can meet the dramatically escalated threat to UN staff, now widely considered to be a “soft target,” as well as provide support for victims and their families.

Second round of the Afghan Presidential election is only a week away. As I told the Security Council, we are considering a number of immediate short-term measures.

Those include consolidating UN staff in Kabul and around the country. We are exploring the feasibility of bringing in additional security units to guard UN facilities and will ask international community to step up its support.

This will be particularly important during the interim election period, with a special emphasis on areas outside Kabul where UN security is clearly insufficient.

I conclude by stating the obvious. The UN is a civilian operation. We are working there to help Afghanistan’s people but our mission is not safe and [is] vulnerable. We need the full support of the Afghanistan government and the international community.

Thank you very much.