Thursday, September 3, 2015

Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan

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

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.
Mr. President,
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.

Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations at the Security Council
on the Situation in Afghanistan
Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.