Wednesday, September 26, 2018

United Nations 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

September 17, 2018

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Let me begin by conveying our best wishes for a successful Council Presidency in September, and our gratitude to the United States for convening today’s debate on Afghanistan. We thank SRSG Yamamoto for his comprehensive briefing. We are particularly pleased by the presence of Mr. Ramiz Bakhtiar, Afghanistan’s first-ever UN youth representative. We look forward to his presentation, which will be reflective of the voice of our youth on the overall situation in the country. His merit-based selection as our UN youth representative is a manifestation of how far our younger generation has come in becoming proactive agents of change in society.

Today’s meeting of the Security Council takes place at a crucial moment – as we approach scheduled parliamentary elections next month; the international Geneva Conference on Afghanistan in November; followed by the anticipated presidential elections in April 2019. If all goes well, by mid-next year, we should complete our political transition, with a new parliament and a new government.

Meanwhile, our security forces are leading the national struggle against terrorist and extremist groups, who have increased their brutality against our people, as part of a renewed attempt to take more innocent lives, including journalists and aid workers, and subvert our progress. 

As guardians of our territorial integrity, our national security forces continue to grow in size, strength and professionalism. Moreover, in addition to the substantial increase of our special forces, we are also working to triple the size of our air force by 2020. This, together with our ongoing reform, will have a profound impact enhancing our fight against international terrorism.

In the broader context, despite the difficult security environment, we remain on track to solidify gains in different areas, including governance and development. This is due, primarily, to the strength and resilience of our people in defying complex challenges, as they have so courageously done over time during the course of our nation’s history; and secondly to the continued support of our many friends and allies in the international community.   

Mr. President,

The core objective of our enduring partnership with the international community is based on achieving a sustainable peace that is seen as just and comprehensive. As we take stock of the status of peace efforts through new outreach to the Taliban, we need to draw the right lessons from the history of engagement with that group. This is essential to ensure that we are indeed on the right track, as we move forward.

Following our sustained efforts, this year, at the Kabul Process Conference in February, we launched a reinvigorated and more flexible peace plan that presented unprecedented incentives, unanticipated even by the Taliban. It included unconditional talks and measures for their return and reintegration in society.

Lately, through increased diplomatic engagement with various partners, we have strengthened regional and international consensus in support of peace efforts. The successive civil mobilizations and gatherings of Islamic scholars, in Kabul, Jakarta and Jeddah, helped enable and welcome the first-ever temporary ceasefire with the Taliban in June. Nevertheless, in spite of that brief lull in fighting, the Taliban rejected the second cease-fire, proposed by us and welcomed by this noble Council.

Making real progress in peace efforts will not be possible unless the consistent pattern to manipulate, misuse opportunities and deception for strategic gains comes to an end.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan stands fully committed to engage in a genuine peace process, with tangible results for our people. However, the guiding principle in moving forward dictates that the fundamental factors, which have prevented peace efforts from gaining traction, must first be adequately detected and then addressed.

All along, we have underscored the importance of regional support for our peace efforts, with a specific role by Pakistan. Advancing the peace process is a key element of the recently signed Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). We welcome the last Saturday visit of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Kabul, where he expressed his Government’s readiness to support peace and stability in Afghanistan. The key determinant in validating that commitment will be the full and effective implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.

Mr. President,

For nearly a quarter of a century, Afghanistan has turned into the site of what I term a “geographical genocide” of certain circles within our region. The expectation is that my country should either become their “trusted” agent, or be weakened, bled and represented as the horrific face of terror around the world, devoid of its independence, advancement, rich culture, and history. The erratic positions of the Taliban in the peace talks, their leaderless profile, factional structure, and brutal attacks are used to pursue this policy.

Such genocide, having a casualty of more than 10,000 a year and traumatizing millions, and we heard about some of them in the presentation of our youth representative, has had a negative impact on almost everything else in our country; governance, economy, electoral process, anti-corruption, counter-narcotics, and so on. So the important thing is that we either do something about the root causes, or continue to talk about the consequences.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has clearly asserted that regional and international support is vital for the success of the Afghan-led peace process. We welcome all coordinated efforts leading to direct talks that can generate concrete results, rather than a repeat of the past. We are keenly following the interactions between some of our partners and the Taliban, which is being coordinated with the Afghan Government.

Let me take this opportunity to express a word of thanks to all partners, inside and outside our region, who are supporting our peace process. Such efforts rendered in a manner that reinforces our ownership and leadership of the process remains essential.

Mr. President,

Other key issues are the up-coming elections, which will determine our future stability. Efforts are underway to ensure that the elections are free, fair, inclusive and transparent, in accordance with the will of our people.  The successful electoral outcome will have a profound impact on the future positive trajectory of Afghanistan. Our people expect us to deliver on this national process, by addressing legitimate concerns and preventing fraud and insecurity from jeopardizing the process.

We thank the Security Council’s new emphasis on the imperative of transparent elections, as emphasized in its presidential and press statements issued in July and August. This is a welcome development, acknowledged by the people and Government of Afghanistan.

Further, our national unity and political stability provide the best guarantee for the long-term stability of our country. In this light, through a broad national dialogue, we need to work on all outstanding issues related to up-coming elections and win the trust of most stakeholders. We know fully well that successful elections and achieving other important national objectives can best be realized in a spirit of unity and understanding.                

Mr. President,

The November Ministerial Geneva Conference on Afghanistan will mark a new chapter in our relations with our international partners. Geneva will be a chance for us to brief the international community on progress against the benchmarks of Self-Reliance Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF). More broadly, it will explore the way forward with respect to peace efforts; and regional economic cooperation agenda, which is one of the main achievements of the National Unity Government.

The endorsement of a new mutual accountability framework will refine the nature of our cooperation to make it more impactful for our people – through improvement of development aid from international donors; and effective project completion in the context of our national development strategy. The preparatory meeting for the Conference, co-chaired by Foreign Minister Rabbani; Finance Minister Qayumi and SRSG Yamamoto will be held here in New York this Sunday. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Mr. President,

We have always given special emphasis to achieving an environment in our region, where various neighbors work in tandem, in a spirit of mutual trust and confidence for win-win cooperation. We have done so believing that only such an approach will lead to success in overcoming common transnational threats and challenges. We continue to widen our network of bilateral arrangements with regional countries, including Central Asian States. In the same spirit, we recognize the enormous economic and other potentials which are yet to be fully utilized.

This is precisely the reason behind various Afghan-led initiatives, such as the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process and RECCA Process. New memberships in the HOA Process signals growing interest among the broader region. We hope the review and renewal of the confidence-building measures will enable each to progress at a more equal and similar pace. Furthermore, the RECCA Process has achieved phenomenal success in advancing regional connectivity and infrastructure development, turning our country into a platform of cordiality for all.

Mr. President,

To conclude, let us bear in mind that we – collectively – stand at a cross-roads in our strategic journey for peace and stability of Afghanistan, and more broadly, for global security.  In that regard, the start of our partnership with the international community in 2001 manifested a contract; one aimed at securing a stable future for our current and future generations. Together, we have come a long way – reaching the last stage of the Transformation Decade for Self-Reliance. Let us complete this vital journey with greater resolve and commitment.

Thank You.

 

Statement of Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, on the 99th Independence Day of Afghanistan

September 4, 2018, New York

Excellencies Ambassadors, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN. Tonight, we gather to celebrate the 99th Independence Day of Afghanistan.

This occasion is an opportunity to celebrate our rich culture and traditions, but more broadly, it is a time to pay tribute to the strength, perseverance, fortitude, and resilience that the heroic people of Afghanistan have exhibited time and again during different phases of our nation’s proud history.

At the gateway between Asia and Europe, and at the crossroad of Central Asia, South Asia, the Far East, and the Middle East, Afghanistan has seen many foreign conquerors trying their fortune, from Alexander to Genghis Khan to the British and Soviet empire. On the 19th of August 1919, we regained our hard won independence from British rule.

We have been tested unlike few nations to protect our sovereignty and be self-reliant. Despite all the challenges faced in the past century, Afghans have always espoused to live in a free country. History has demonstrated our triumph against numerous aggressive foreign powers over time to the benefit of the world.     

Today’s occasion is a fitting opportunity to highlight our major achievements in the course of our history, including those made since the fall of the brutal Taliban regime in 2001, in close cooperation with the international community, for which we are truly grateful.  

We saw a new light and a path forward in 1919 when King Amanullah Khan ushered in the independence of Afghanistan. His ambitious social, political, and economic reforms transformed the country and elevated it at the forefront of newly independent nations striving to achieve self reliance and solidify their place in the world. This period saw major advancements in various sectors, including education, science, and technology. Kabul was a much sought after destination, often called the Paris of the east.

Afghanistan emerged as the food basket of the region; known for intricate handicrafts, carpets, fresh and dry fruits, and the famed Afghan hospitality and generosity of spirit, our diverse culture epitomized our strength as one nation.

Later, our position of non-alignment was well documented for decades including during WW II, which is still in vogue as we have framed our foreign policy on the backdrop of being a platform of cordiality for all. We have never allowed our soil to be a proxy zone for other nations to play out their negative rivalry and geo-strategic interests. On the contrary, we have strived to facilitate ties of friendship, solidarity, and mutual cooperation across different regions of the world.

During the first 60 years of independence we were in relative peace, making steady progress in various domains. However, in the past 40 years of imposed conflicts, we have suffered tremendously.

In 2001, the global community joined our long-standing fight against terrorism, used as proxy, and we began a new chapter in our modern history. Together with the support of the United Nations and many other international partners, mandated by the UN Security Council, in the past 17 years, we have witnessed steady progress and major developments in all sectors of Afghanistan.

In 2004, our democratic constitution was revised and adopted based on the broad consensus and desire of the Afghan people. That was the very foundation upon which broader state-building efforts took place later. Accordingly, we have made tremendous strides in education, healthcare, promoting human rights for all, increasing gender parity in Government, and ensuring livelihood to our people. These are – by all accounts – common achievements we all can take pride in.

We have substantially elevated our standing in the international arena, including here at the United Nations. Afghanistan is a nation firmly committed to promoting and advancing the ideals and principles of the UN Charter. We are making a proactive contribution to various issues on the UN agenda in the form of new resolutions, and have increased our presence in UN forums and entities.

Our chairmanship of the Third Committee of the General Assembly begins in a couple of weeks. Last year, we were elected to the Human Rights Council. We are also a member of the ECOSOC, and serving as Vice-Chair of the General Assembly. We will continue in this trajectory to further enhance our role in promoting international peace, stability, and development.

This evening I would like to reiterate our gratitude to the international community, the United Nations in particular, and all partner countries around the world for their friendship and support, as we continue our journey towards lasting peace, stability, and self-reliance. We look forward to continuing this strategic partnership to achieve our common goals and objectives. As we do so, complacency is out of the question. Hostile forces in our region, challenging our advances through violent proxies, should take a lesson from our history. We will always prevail!

So today, on our 99th Independence Day, we must look towards the future and learn from the past. As we celebrate Afghanistan’s rich history, culture, accomplishments, and people, let us be reminded of our common destination of freedom, peace, and prosperity and our common sacrifices to achieve them.

Thank you.

 

Statement of Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, on the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism

17 August 2018, New York

 

Excellency Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies ambassadors,

Respected representatives of the victims of terrorism,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

On behalf of the co-organizers of this event, the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, Belgium, Iraq, Nigeria, the United States, and the UN Office of Counter-terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, I would like to welcome you all to this historic memorial and exhibition on the occasion of the first UN International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism.

Mr. Secretary-General, you remember last year, on the 14th of June, you landed in Kabul- bravely!

I say bravely because days before that, the most deadly terrorist attack in the history of our country had taken place in our capital.

A truck full of explosives, driven by a terrorist suicide had gone off in the heart of Kabul, killing more than 150 and badly injuring over 550, almost all of them were civilians. The toll in Afghanistan has been rising with a new wave of terrorist attacks in the past two weeks. In recent years, the average casualty of terror in Afghanistan has been more than 10,000 a year- one third of them children.

Similarly, the basic human rights, which is the right to life, of tens of thousands of people have been severely violated by terrorism around the world- in Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, America, and in this beautiful city of New York.

Most of the time, victims of terrorism are forgotten soon and are left to address their trauma and pick up shattered pieces of their lives by themselves.

This is why last year, we initiated the resolution on establishing an international day to remember of and pay tribute to the victims of terrorism. 

95 countries co-sponsored this resolution and it passed unanimously, for which we are thankful to all member states.

We are also pleased with the focus on support for victims in the 5th review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

But we need to do more.

We are currently working, together with some other member states, on establishing an international support mechanism for victims and survivors of terrorism; especially those who are in desperate need so that they could enjoy some tangible support from the international community, in putting their lives together

Beyond that, at the heart of our efforts, we need to address the root causes of radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism; in particular their use in proxy wars.  

Mr. Secretary-General, you have been a good flag carrier of addressing these root causes.

We believe you have the wisdom, courage, and justice to do that and in doing so, all of us are behind you.

Thank you.

 

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan