Monday, April 24, 2017

Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism

Statement of Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Security Council Open Debate on “Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism”

11 May 2016

NEW YORK

Thank you Mr. President.

I would like to thank Egypt for its leadership of the Council this month, and for organizing this important debate. Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Mr. President,

Let me be brief and to the point. Much was discussed during the day about the internal factors to do with countering the narratives and ideologies of terrorism. While we agree with most of what’s been said, let me focus on the external factors in case of Afghanistan and remind this Council that the creation of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1994 opened the current tragic chapter of terrorism in the world. Before the crafting of the Taliban, terror in its current behavior and form was little known to the world. The Taliban came into existence before groups like Al-Qaida, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram and Daish gained notoriety. In a way, it was the Taliban and their backers who characterized the kind of terror that we witness today from various violent extremist groups.

Mr. President,

In the current global climate of unspeakable brutality committed by these terrorist outfits, let us not forget that it was the Taliban who stoned women to death; it was the Taliban who closed girls’ schools, thereby denying millions of girls from their right to education; it was the Taliban who prevented women from pursuing a livelihood; it was them who introduced suicide attacks on civilians and destroyed towns and villages in Afghanistan. One can easily trace how the Taliban, with foreign support, started promoting Al-Qaida, Daish, and their type of divisive and hateful ideology.

Since the Taliban mushroomed overnight in the landscape of Afghanistan, our entire population has been brutalized in their hands. The latest attack came three weeks ago, where an indiscriminate brutal bombing in Kabul led to the death of 68 people and wounded 350. But their vicious bloodlust has never been limited to Afghanistan. Let us not forget that it was under the Taliban that Afghanistan became the jumping board for international terrorism, when thousands of young men received training and logistical support in terrorist camps. This was the precursor of today’s terrorists carrying out deadly attacks in Asia, Europe, U.S, Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

So the question is how and why did the Taliban come into being? We need to ask ourselves how did they learn to drive tanks and fly jets overnight, stage conventional warfare, and capitalize on prolonged political conflict in our country? Who trained them? Who provided them with supplies? Who financed them? Who provided them with safe havens and orchestrated their spring offensives year after year?

Religious outfits and sloganism, as well as taking advantage of the weaknesses emerging from the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan were the cheapest and easiest ways to recruit for the ranks and files of the Taliban. In this case, ideology and violent behavior were used in pursuit of political objectives by circles within state structures outside of our frontiers.

The question should be what motivated and still continues to motivate these circles to use violence through proxies in pursuit of political objectives at national, regional, and global levels? Three causes can be identified: 1) negative state rivalry in the region with excessive anxiety and suspicion of one state over the other, resulting in adoption of wrong policies; 2) tension between military and civilian control in politics, an inherent struggle emerging from militarism in society; and 3) states’ trust deficit that prevents constructive dialogue. Hence, in our case, it is not the ideology but the initiation, enabling, and facilitation role of political actors and their use of radical ideology for short term gains that need to be addressed. Targeting the promoters and drivers of such policies, who use violence in pursuit of political objectives within the state structures, especially in the security apparatus, is absolutely crucial to deal with the threats of violent extremism. In this regard, it must be mentioned that differentiation between good and bad terrorists by few actors is futile since terrorism in all forms is inherently appalling and must be condemned.

Mr. President,

In Afghanistan, we have witnessed how terrorists and violent extremist groups take advantage of prolonged and unresolved conflicts, lack of minimal peace and security, and most importantly, of negative competition between states to push forward their brutal agenda. The world today is in dire need of reducing state rivalries and addressing trust deficits. In this regard, regional countries and international actors bear particular responsibility for assisting countries in strife in returning to peace.

In conclusion, Afghanistan reiterates its commitment to engage constructively with the United Nations and other international partners to discuss counter-terrorism measures, including the upcoming bi-annual review of the Global Counter Terrorism strategy. We hope to achieve tangible results at the end of the review process.

Thank you Mr. President.

The High-level Signature Ceremony for Paris Agreement

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the High-level Signature Ceremony for Paris Agreement

April 22, 2016

NEW YORK

(Check against delivery)

Mr. Chair,

At the outset, let me thank the Secretary General for convening this important event on today’s historic occasion. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Kingdom of Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and with the statement delivered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries.

Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentleman,

National statements on the occasion of the High-level signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement Afghanistan

National statements on the occasion of the High-level signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement
Afghanistan

12 December 2015 was a memorable day for the United Nations, its Member States, and the international community. The adoption of the Paris Agreement embodied an act of paramount importance for multilateralism and the path towards a better and sustainable future. Through the Paris Agreement, the world has committed to address climate change, one of the defining issues of our time, in a serious, timely, and comprehensive manner. Today constitutes another historic date as we took the second step towards implementation by signing it. I was proud to participate and to sign on behalf of Afghanistan this morning.

The long term goals agreed in Paris, including the goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, constitute a milestone achievement as well as a valuable roadmap for the future.

Mr. Chair,

Afghanistan is ranked among the most vulnerable countries facing adverse impacts of climate change, although its people are least responsible for causing the problem in the first place. Afghanistan has extensive development and climate adaptation needs and currently, very low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Afghanistan is highly prone to natural disasters throughout its 34 provinces. As a result of climate change, it is anticipated that the incidence of extreme weather events, including heat waves, floods, and droughts will likely increase, as will climate change-linked disasters such as glacial lake outflows. The majority of Afghanistan’s population relies directly on available natural resources for their livelihoods; with these incidents related to climatic change, the foundation of the country’s economy, stability, and food security is under threat.

Mr. Chair,

Despite these challenges, Afghanistan can remain a low emission economy while developing rapidly if extensive financial and other resources are made available to allow the country to successfully develop and implement Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) and Highly Effective Adaptation and Development Strategies (HEADS) under the Paris Agreement.

Appropriate and significant support in the form of finance, capacity building, technology and legal assistance is needed for Afghanistan to make substantial progress on social and economic fronts, while maintaining low per capita GHG emission levels.

Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentleman,

We believe the Paris Agreement puts us on the right track to finally address the issue of climate change and achieving environmental and social integrity. We look forward to the future UN negotiations to elaborate its details and thoroughly implement its provisions.

To conclude, let me reassure you of the full support and commitment of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan for an active engagement in the successful implementation of the Agreement.

Thank you Mr. Chair.

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by  H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

15 March 2016

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Thank you Mr. President. I congratulate Angola on its successful leadership of the Council this month. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA, for his briefing and for his outstanding leadership of the UN’s work in Afghanistan. I thank the Secretary-General for his recent report on the situation in Afghanistan, which offers a lucid overview of the prevailing situation in my country.

 Mr. President,

Since the Council’s last deliberation on Afghanistan in December last year, we have witnessed important gains in several key areas. Enhanced regional and global cooperation has brought renewed hope in our peace efforts with the armed groups; the sustainability and enabling needs of our security forces have received fresh attention with good deliveries from regional and global partners; our security forces have conducted large-scale operations and flushed out terrorists and extremists in several districts and villages across the country; Government inclusivity and social outreach has improved political stability; the Government has met human rights benchmarks through multiple progressive legislations; electoral reform has received fresh momentum; a number of key senior appointments has increased professionalism in governance;  measures to increase revenue mobilization have brought results; increased rate of voluntary return of our nationals prove that more people are returning to Afghanistan; also, there has been substantial reduction in opium cultivation and production. With the Afghan New Year just days away, these developments give hope for more promising times for us.

Mr. President,

The renewal of UNAMA’s mandate is another affirmation of the strong partnership between Afghanistan and the United Nations. On this occasion, we are grateful for the UN’s vital contributions to our security, development, and rehabilitation. We welcome the reflection of the recommendations of the Tripartite Review Commission in the renewed mandate of UNAMA. Using this opportunity, let me thank Ambassador Román Oyarzun Marchesi and his entire team for doing a fantastic job on the negotiations.

With preparations in progress for security, political, and development discussions on Afghanistan at the forthcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw and the Brussels Conference, there are clear signs that Afghanistan once again is turning into a symbol of international cooperation with the National Unity Government as a trusted partner for all. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the international community over the coming years, and are confident that our joint success in stabilizing the situation and achieving peace and prosperity is inevitable.

We continue to face challenges from the Taliban, Daeish, Al-Qaeda, and other violent extremist and terrorist groups. Their human rights violations persisted during the usual winter lull, resulting in high civilian causality rates, massive internal displacement, and increasing instability in different parts of the country. In the face of mounting struggles, Afghans have remained united in a commitment to thwart these groups.

Mr. President,

Following last December’s Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad and its side meetings, increased efforts have aimed to restore peace talks. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), consisting of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States, has met four times in two months in Islamabad and Kabul, and succeeded in finalizing a road map for the next steps forward. Moreover, the appointment of a new leadership team for the High Peace Council inside Afghanistan has reinvigorated the promotion of peace. We will spare no efforts to grant our citizens their fundamental right to live peaceful and dignified lives.

Despite these important developments, we are cognizant of the challenges ahead of us. So far, QCG’s call for peace talks have received mixed reactions.  Some groups have expressed readiness to attend the talks, some are weighing their options and some are attempting to raise the stakes. Two weeks ago, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Adviser to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly stated that his Government had “influence on the Taliban” because their leadership, together with their families, live in Pakistan. Mr. Aziz’s statement speaks volumes about the crucial need for Pakistan to play its role in helping to facilitate direct talks between authorized representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan Government.

We repeat our call to the Taliban to engage in the peace talks and to give up violence. We assure them that they will be among the first beneficiaries of the peace dividend. At the same time, let me make it clear in no uncertain terms, that those elements who choose the path of violence and terror will face the full might of our security forces, and be held accountable, no matter whose protection they enjoy.

Mr. President,

We welcome the growing voice of reason within Pakistan calling for a change in the right direction. In light of that, we want an immediate end to regular incursions along the Durand Line, which cannot and will not be tolerated by Afghanistan. In the last three months alone, we have documented at least 56 instances of violation to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan across the Durand Line, breaching article 2 (4) of the UN Charter and contrary to UN resolution 2131. This jeopardizes Afghanistan-Pakistan relations at a time when making peace with Pakistan is essential to making peace with the Taliban.

Mr. President,

Despite our high ambitions and political will, we have realistic expectations from the peace process. Success depends on a number of factors at national, regional, and international levels, including adequate handling of spoilers of peace.

At the national level, violence must decrease so that we can win the confidence of our people, especially women, over the process. Ultimately, the peace process should further unite Afghans rather than divide us. Every effort must be made to eliminate those elements of the armed groups that oppose peace. We anticipate clear and decisive steps towards this objective.

At regional and international levels, we should aim for minimizing negative state rivalries and maximizing cooperation.  States have the right to be concerned about their interests; however, they don’t have the right to pursue them through violent means and proxies in others’ territories. The price of greatness to regional and global powers is responsibility and better coordination of legitimate interests of all. Given its sensitive geostrategic location, history of turmoil and current embroiling with global violent extremism and terrorism, Afghanistan must continue to remain a symbol of international cooperation.

Mr. President,

While we deliberate, terrorists and violent extremist groups, including Daeish and Al-Qaeda, continue to threaten the foundations of our society. Everything we cherish– equality, democracy, justice, and human rights is under attack from their daily onslaught of violence. We are in a constant battle between legality and illegality, civilization and darkness. For our part, we will continue our more than two decade long struggle against the menace of terrorism. We will do so as a matter of national and strategic priority. Having said that, ridding this menace from Afghanistan, our region and beyond, demands more robust efforts, regionally and globally, by all States – particularly those in which extremist groups originate. The time is now to strengthen the overall international architecture against terrorism. Afghanistan has long advocated the conclusion of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. As we struggle to reach a common definition of terrorism, we must remind ourselves of the enormous pain and suffering that extremism inflicts on the civilized world. Think about the loved ones of 146 people who have either lost their lives or have become wounded in the terrorist attacks of the past couple of days in Ankara and Ivory Coast.

 This Council should ensure that all States meet their international obligations with respect to implementation of the relevant counter-terrorism and sanction regime resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, in particular resolutions 1373, 1624, 2178, 2253 and 2255 and present genuine and regular compliance reports.

Mr. President,

While we press for the success of the Peace Process, Afghanistan must be able to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and protect its citizens. While we agree there is no military solution to the security problems imposed on us, we firmly believe that without an effective defense and security system, there will be no solution.

In the past three months, despite limited resources, the initiative has very much remained in the hands of our security forces. They have had success in a number of provinces including Nangarhar, Baghlan, Helmand, Badakhshan, Takhar, and Faryab. In Helmand, our forces have repelled sizeable enemy attacks, despite sustaining heavy casualties.

However, the cost of war imposed upon us is massive, and way beyond our own capacity. Sustainability, proper training, right enablers, reform, and high morale of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are crucial in facing the regional and global terror threat.

Lately, the United States, India, China, and the Russian Federation have contributed to the delivery of the right enablers to ANDSF. We are looking forward to the Warsaw Summit of NATO in July, where the long-term sustainability of the ANDSF will be discussed.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan continues to make strides in civilian protection and promotion of human rights, especially protecting the rights of our children, which has always been our priority. We will continue to implement the “Road Map to Compliance” to prevent recruitment of child soldiers, having already endorsed the National Age Assessment Guidelines to ensure we bring an end to practices that put the lives and futures of our children at risk. The recent Afghanistan visit of Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, provided an excellent opportunity for a first hand assessment of the situation. Our pledge to empower women and ensure their equal rights is bearing fruit. Multiple Government initiatives continue to encourage women’s participation in all sectors while the strengthening of existing laws on violence against women help to create a just society.

In the past three months, we have witnessed multiple attacks on civilians, including slaying of journalists of a popular television network. Following this incident, President Ghani has affirmed his commitment to freedom of expression by issuing a decree to prevent the intimidation.

There is significant political will to consolidate the progress made in the past years. However, the high price paid by Afghans due to the imposed conflict pulls us in a downward spiral. The Council must note that our Government’s policy is to protect civilians at any cost. ANDSF operates under strict rules of engagement based on principles of justifiability and proportionality, provide compensation and support to victims of violence, and never use any civilian facilities for military purposes.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is currently suffering a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The number of internally displaced people is at its highest since 2002, but the rate of voluntary returns under the repatriation program has seen a significant increase since 2014. However, the continuous flow of Afghans out of the country is a source of concern as they contribute to the migrant crisis in Europe, constituting the second largest group of arrivals via the Mediterranean Sea route. Compounding the crisis, several European countries have started rejecting Afghan asylum petitions. It is our Government’s policy to improve conditions in Afghanistan so that we can create economic opportunities and strengthen security, to incentivize people to stay and contribute to their nation. We call upon our friends from the international community to work with us in achieving this goal.

 Mr. President,

Countering the menace of narcotics trade and breaking down the nexus of criminality and drugs are key priorities for us. Our success is evident from the findings of the 2015 Afghanistan Drug Report, which emphasizes significant reductions in opium cultivation and production, and slight increases in drug seizures. We will continue to work with the international community to garner support on the Afghan National Drug Action Plan to counter the threat of illicit drugs.

Mr. President,

 No country can achieve self-reliance without economic self-sufficiency, and Afghanistan has been adopting concrete measures to move in that direction. In line with Sustainable Development Goals, we are in the process of drafting a new National Development Strategy, the guiding document on strategies for security, governance, economic growth, poverty reduction and employment. We are serious in dealing with corruption because it negatively impacts economic growth. In this regard, the Government has implemented multiple anti-corruption strategies, and started programs that would ensure transparency of recruitment in public service and prevent nepotism.

In October, the Brussels 2016 Conference on Afghanistan is expected to convey a message of strong political support for our reform and state building process, commit development assistance in support of Afghanistan’s reform process within an updated Mutual Accountability Framework, and create a political momentum of reinforced regional cooperation. We invite member states to take an active part in this conference as investing in Afghan stability would create safety dividends worldwide.

Thank you Mr. President.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan