At the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan delivered the statement on behalf of Afghanistan. Throughout the discussion, the United Nations Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the peace, security and development in Afghanistan.
The opening session began with introductory remarks by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Mr Jan Kubis. He highlighted the many challenges ahead in Afghanistan but also emphasized encouraging developments such as the recent series of successful high-level meetings that reinforced the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community. Positive developments also included President Karzaiâ€™s renewed commitments to combating corruption and strengthening governance and electoral systems in the last two years of his presidency. Mr Kubis declared that the security transition was largely on track, however, Mr Kubis also stressed the significant challenges ahead: the precarious security situation as â€œan insidious campaign of intimidation and targeted killings is claiming the lives of government officials, womenâ€™s rights activists, tribal leadersâ€. Mr Kubis said that despite the budget cuts of 2013 and the closure of nine field offices, UNAMA maintains its support for Afghan authorities in the priority areas of its mandate.
In his statement, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul noted that Afghanistan is on track to complete the security transition by end of 2013 and welcomed the encouraging support of the international community as seen in Chicago and Tokyo. He also highlighted that Afghanistan looks forward to working closely with the UN Security Council members â€œon amendments to the Taliban sanctions committee in a way that further benefits and accelerates the Afghan peace processâ€.
Dr Rassoul expressed serious concern over the growing number of civilian casualties and underscored the need to exert all measures necessary to protect civilian populations. He also pointed to the â€œmatter of deep and serious concern of the shelling of areas of Kunar from across the Durand Lineâ€ and called for â€œan immediate and complete end to these actsâ€. Dr Rassoul noted the greatest challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan, such as terrorism, extremism and narcotic drugs are regional common threats that require cooperative solutions. In that respect, the Istanbul process is gaining momentum and was further crystallized at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June 2012.
While working to tackle the challenges of the future, Dr Rassoul acknowledged the significant advances in social and economic development of the past years, including better health access, and declared the Afghan authoritiesâ€™ commitment to ensuring a transparent election process.
Other participantsâ€™ remarks were centered on four main topics. The Tokyo process was a welcomed development setting the ground for future partnerships and accountability between the Afghan Government and the international community. They continued violence raised concerns, in particular the recent string of suicide attacks, which were strongly condemned. Fourthly, most participants expressed concerns over the significant budget cuts of UNAMA and hoped it would not adversely impact the development work of UNAMA on the ground.