Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative to the United Nations
at the Security Council
on the Situation in Afghanistan
15 October 2007
Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of October. I wish to express our appreciation for convening today’s important meeting. We are also thankful to the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Tom Koenigs, for his detailed briefing.
I should also like to express my delegations appreciation to the Secretary General for his recent report on Afghanistan, which offers a comprehensive overview of the overall situation in the country.
Less than a month ago, we gathered in the special high-level meeting on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the Secretary General and H.E. President Karzai, prior to the general debate of the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting, which brought together Ministers of Foreign Affairs and senior representatives of the 22 member-states of the JCMB and various international organizations, was another opportunity to assess ways of enhancing greater coordination of international efforts for strengthening peace, stability and development in Afghanistan.
We were pleased with the outcome of the meeting, which gave testimony to the overwhelming consensus among member-states on the need to keep Afghanistan among the top priorities of the international community and the United Nations. We also welcome the unity with which participants reiterated the need for improved strategic coordination in four key areas of security, counter-narcotics, regional cooperation and governance. Such coordination is fundamental for achieving the vision of the Afghanistan Compact.
Significant gains have been made in Afghanistan since the signing of the Bonn Agreement six years ago. Thanks to the support of this Council and other partners in the international community, Afghanistan no longer serves as a base for international terrorists; rather it has become the front line from which countries have joined hands in the fight against terrorism. We have regained our legitimacy among the responsible members of the international community and continue to make steady progress in consolidating our democratic institutions.
At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that daunting challenges continue to face a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. That is why we continue to focus on defeating terrorism, strengthening the rule of law, enhancing the reconstruction process and ridding our society from the menace of narcotics as our top priorities.
Terrorism stands forefront among our challenges. Recent events of the past two weeks are a clear illustration of the ongoing campaign of the enemies of peace in Afghanistan, aimed at destabilizing the situation. In their most recent acts of sheer brutality, terrorists carried out suicide bombings in the frontier town of Spin Boldak and the Afghan capital, targeting civilians and members of the national army and police. The carnage was a stark reminder of the continuing challenge facing the people of Afghanistan to live in peace and security. At least 80 civilians have lost their lives from suicide attacks in September. Additional attacks have come in the form of increased use of sophisticated explosive devices; abductions, daily attacks on schools, health-centers, government officials and humanitarian aid workers. Terrorists have also resorted to the brutal tactic of launching attacks from civilian populations and use of human shields during counter-terrorism operations which constitutes the main cause of loss of civilian life.
I should like to reaffirm here that such heinous acts will in no way weaken our resolve to achieve our stated goals. That is why our security forces continue to serve in the most difficult of conditions, alongside forces of our international partners to consolidate security throughout the country. Over recent months, we have made much substantial progress in weakening the command and control structure of terrorist networks in Afghanistan. Joint combat operations by Afghan and international forces resulted in the capture and elimination of an unprecedented number of senior-level commanders of the Taliban and extremists. As a case in point, the deaths of Mullah Akhtar Osmani and Mullah Dadullah during combat operations early this year were among numerous achievements in the fight against terrorism. In this regard, we remain concerned over the increased use of foreign extremist elements in the campaign of terror against our people.
We have also taken action to strengthen the sanctions regime against terrorists, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1267. Just last month, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the mastermind behind numerous suicide bombings in various parts of the country was enlisted in the consolidated list of the 1267 Committee, at the request of the Afghan Government.
Improving overall security in Afghanistan is dependent on a variety of factors. Ensuring a fully efficient and operational national army and police is vital to our fight against terrorism. Despite substantial progress in reforming our security institutions, and increasing the size of our national army and police, we call for continued assistance for the training and strengthening of our security forces.
Meanwhile, it has also become evident that addressing terrorism and improving security in Afghanistan will not be achieved by military means alone. While the military campaign remains an important pillar in the fight against terrorism, we must also redouble our efforts in all aspects of a comprehensive strategy to achieve long-term security and stability. We must focus greater on expediting the delivery of basic services and create employment opportunities through large-scale reconstruction and development projects to bring real change in the lives of our citizens. In doing so, we will prevent the possibility of subversive elements enjoying local sympathies. In this regard, we call on our international partners to ensure greater military coordination with Afghan security forces during combat operations to prevent loss of civilian life.
Furthermore, more must be done to address terrorism across regional and international dimensions. The presence of terrorist infrastructure outside Afghanistan’s territory is a source of continuing concern to Afghanistan. As it was stated by H.E. President Karzai during his address during the general debate of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly, and I quote “[M]ay I emphasize…that we were the prime victim of terrorism and that terrorism was never, nor is it today, a homegrown phenomenon in Afghanistan. Therefore, this threat can only be overcome if addressed across its regional and international dimensions…Consistent with our expressed belief in the past, we remain convinced that tolerating the presence of sanctuaries and terrorist infrastructure will only broaden the scope of terrorism.,”[end of quote].
As part of the initiative to ensure long-term stability, Afghanistan continues to focus on reconciliation as a measure to encourage “non-terrorist Taliban” to refrain from subversive activities and join the process of building a prosperous Afghanistan. Such measures, which are welcome by our people, continue within the framework of a comprehensive national reconciliation strategy. In this regard, we are working with the 1267 Committee of the Security Council to update and improve the quality of the consolidate list.
Regional cooperation is indispensable for success in achieving and stability in Afghanistan. We have witnessed greater consensus in our neighborhood on the notion that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan will serve a precondition for the security and prosperity of all countries of the region. Over the past year, we have maximized our efforts to consolidate relations with our neighbors and the wider region in the areas of security, trade, investment, border cooperation and counter-narcotics. The Sixth meeting of the JCMB, held in Kabul on the 3rd of October was an important step towards advancing regional cooperation in various key areas.
As a country that once served as a land-bridge connecting cultures, countries and civilizations, Afghanistan is surely but gradually reassuming its role in promoting trade and development in the region. In this regard, I am pleased to announce that we are preparing to host the up-coming international meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in the historic city of Herat on the 19th of this month. This Conference will be the first of its kind in one of the historic provinces of Afghanistan.
The recently convened Afghanistan-Pakistan Jirga just over a month ago was the most recent of numerous initiatives by Afghanistan to strengthen cooperation between our two countries to jointly address the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan and the region. We have every reason to believe that the gathering will yield the anticipated results. The historic gathering was a complement to ongoing consultations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, within the framework of the Tri-partite Commission.
The issue of narcotics is another major challenge facing Afghanistan. A combination of factors have attributed to why this menace remains a concern to Afghanistan and our international partners. It has become evident that eliminating the scourge of narcotics from our society and region is an endeavor, unattainable by Afghanistan alone. Real progress towards reduction and elimination requires a more robust effort from transit and consuming countries. Greater focus should also be given to break the link between production, trafficking of illegal drugs and financing of terrorist activities.
In adopting the Afghanistan Compact, we committed to a second phase of cooperation with our international partners to consolidate our achievements. Having reached a turning point in the effort to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, the time has come for us to redouble our focus on the implementation of the Compact. Our progress in various areas is highlighted in each meeting of the Joint Coordinating Monitoring Board, which remains the principal mechanism facilitating and monitoring cooperation between the international community and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. Additional measures are necessary if we are to ensure meeting the goals of the Compact by designated timelines. In this context, we highlight the need to exert greater effort to improve the effectiveness, accountability, and utilization of development assistance.
While expressing gratitude to our international partners for their assistance to Afghanistan, we emphasize the need to ensure delivery of pledges in a timely manner. Also essential is the need for increased financial assistance for achieving our development goals.
If we are to accomplish tangible results across key pillars of the Compact, we must ensure greater coordination of international assistance to Afghanistan. We call on our international partners to increase their level of coordination and cooperation among themselves and with the Afghan government through periodic meetings of the JCMB. In this regard, we commend the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan for its continuing commitment to implement effective coordination of the international community’s efforts with Afghanistan.
We are also thankful to the Council for its adoption of S.C. resolution 1776, extending the mandate of the International Security Assistance Forces for an additional year. In this regard, allow me to express our appreciation to all those countries that have committed troops and resources to ISAF for the consolidation of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan greatly values the ongoing role of the United Nations in the effort to secure peace and stability in the country. We welcome the expansion of UNAMA’s presence to additional parts of the country as a clear sign of the United Nations’ effort to reach out to various parts of the country. I would like to also seize this opportunity to express my delegation’s appreciation to the Secretary General for his personal engagement and commitment to improve the situation in Afghanistan, as illustrated by his visit to Kabul in the month of June and initiative to convene the high-level meeting on Afghanistan on the 23rd of September.
I would like to express our appreciation to our international partners for their ongoing commitment to Afghanistan. We remain confident that, together, we will fulfill our common vision of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. In conclusion, we also pay a special tribute to Mr. Tom Koenigs for tireless efforts during his tenure as Special Representative of the Secretary General in Afghanistan. We wish him every success in his future endeavors.
Thank you Mr. President.