Sunday, October 23, 2016

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the Sixth Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism


(check against delivery)

4 October 2016


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I join the previous speakers in congratulating you and other members of the Bureau on your election. We assure you of our full support, and wish you every success in leading the work of the 6th Committee to a successful conclusion.

We align ourselves with the statement, delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Terrorism is the most blatant form of violation of human rights, and a phenomenon that contradicts the core values and tenets of all religions and the essence of the UN Charter.  As we take up this agenda item each year, we have come to realize that this dangerous menace continues to grow in its scope and reach, posing a serious threat to the security and stability of all societies, irrespective of their geographical location.

This year is no different, as numerous attacks took place in my own country, Afghanistan and in other countries in five continents.  The status quo makes it ever more evident that despite ongoing efforts, the global counter-terrorism campaign must be revitalized for a more responsive approach.

To that end, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy remains the most effective framework within which States must carry out their counter-terrorism obligations. We welcome the 5th Review of the Global Strategy this past July, which helped give new focus on ways to address some new trends, with respect to the global terrorist threat. We also acknowledge the important mandate entrusted to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and Implementation Task Force (CTITF) for supporting States with technical and logistical assistance to meet their counter-terrorism obligations.

Having said that, a glimpse at the status of counter-terrorism efforts show that terrorist threats have rapidly increased rather than subside.  This reflects the obvious; States need to do more to meet their counter-terrorism obligations, in a timely and efficient manner.  In light of the continuing trend, we see merit in a review of the activities of UN entities, to identify and fill gaps in implementation, and assess what really can be done to achieve a more results-oriented approach for fulfilling respective mandates.

Mr. Chairman,

The many counter-terrorism resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, including SC resolutions 1373 and 2178 remain living documents. Nevertheless, far too often, we see elements in Some States, particularly one in our region, still resort to terrorism as a tool to advance their misguided foreign policy agenda.

Here again, we wish to state that the fight against terrorism cannot be won, if the international community fails to address the lingering problem of terrorist sanctuaries, safe havens and training centers, where extremists are nurtured, equipped and directed to engage in terror. Any State or elements within a State, involved in the perpetration or orchestration of terrorist attacks must be held to account.

Mr. Chairman,

This year, Afghanistan’s fight against terrorism continued unabated. Our security forces were tested on different fronts, battling a sophisticated nexus of 9 terrorist groups in different parts of the country.  As we speak, our security forces have repulsed another failed attempt by the Taliban and affiliate groups to establish a presence in Kunduz city, in northern Afghanistan.  However, as they retreat, they have taken innocent people hostage and have intentionally caused as much destruction to civilian lives and property as they can. Latest estimates indicate enemy forces have suffered heavy losses in their ranks, including senior figures. Weakened in their morale and operational capability, enemy forces increasingly resort to asymmetrical attacks on schools, universities, aid agencies and public events.  In July and August, they attacked a large gathering of peaceful demonstrators and the American University in Kabul, resulting in the loss of scores of civilians, including many of our talented youth.

We have adopted a holistic approach to combat terrorism, entailing both military and peace-building components.  We have consistently pursued a policy of combating those elements driven by extremist ideology, while keeping the doors of peace and reconciliation open to those elements that are ready to renounce violence, accept the constitution, and return to normal life.  Moreover, the National Unity Government has facilitated an effective platform for our religious clerics to amplify their denunciation of terror and violence, whether in Afghanistan or any other parts of the world.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan joins the call for the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, for a more responsive approach in dealing the problem of terrorism. A final conclusion of this important legal instrument has eluded us for far too long, while thousands of people have fallen victim to terrorism around the world: men, women; the elderly, and even children.   The time is now to break the impasse and address outstanding issues to finalize the draft comprehensive convention as a matter of priority.

We attach great importance to the Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PEV) and its recommendations, which offers a unique perspective on addressing some of the underlying conditions that drive individuals to radicalize and join extremist groups.

Afghanistan also believes that inter-religious and inter-faith dialogue and collaboration can play an important role in the fight against terrorism by fostering a spirit of peace, solidarity and harmony between different cultures and religions.  In this context, we reject any form of religious and faith-based intolerance, and association of any religion with terrorism.  To that end, we welcome the important work being done by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and welcome the outcome of the Baku Declaration, adopted at the conclusion of the AOC’s 7th Global Forum in April.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, we reiterate our long-standing commitment to defeating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  As a country whose people have stood valiantly in the front line of the global war against terrorism for over two decades, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, nationally, regionally and internationally to reduce, and eventually eliminate the threat posed by this global menace.

Thank You.

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the Second Committee of the 71st Session of the General Assembly

(check against delivery)

3 October 2016


Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on the assumption of the Chairmanship of the Second Committee of the 71st Session of the General Assembly. I hope that under your leadership, the Second Committee will have productive and fruitful discussions in the forthcoming weeks. I would like to assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout the deliberations of issues concerning this Committee.

I also wish to commend the Chair of the Second Committee of the 70th Session of the General Assembly and his team for their successful leadership last year.

My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by the Kingdom of Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Bangladesh on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries.

Mr. Chairman,

In 2016, we started our journey towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this regard, the High Level Midterm Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development have been milestones in providing political guidance for the sustainable development process, as well as occasions to exchange views on common challenges, best practices, and lessons learned.

Mr. Chairman,

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda constitutes a great challenge as well as an invaluable opportunity.  It is fundamental to work to foster coherence in the UN system, adopt a holistic approach to further sustainable development, and honor the promise of leaving no one behind. We cannot overemphasize that “leaving no one behind” means addressing the special needs and challenges of countries in special situations, in particular LDCs, LLDCs, and countries in conflict and post conflict situations through the work of the Committee.

Mr. Chairman,

As a member of LDCs, LLDCs, and as a conflict affected country, I would like to highlight the following points:


·      Countries in conflict and post-conflict situations have always faced unique challenges in achieving sustainable development, as conflict not only impedes but reverses decades of development gains. Our delegation sees the strengthening of the connection between peace and security and development as a priority in the work of the Committee. Furthermore, we cannot stress enough the importance of mainstreaming SDG 16 (promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development) in the relevant resolutions and documents adopted by the Committee;


·      Financing for Development plays a crucial factor in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. We put a high value on the realization of the commitments made in Addis Ababa, and we would like to reiterate that Official Development Assistance (ODA), especially towards LDCs and LLDCs, is an element of primary importance to support our efforts for reaching sustainable development and economic growth;


·      We welcome the adoption of the Paris Agreement as a comprehensive and ambitious effort to combat climate change. After going through the due process, Afghanistan would ratify the agreement. We are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, although not being responsible for it in the first place. We expect the international community to follow through with its financial commitments aimed at developing capacity for adaptation in developing countries;


·      We welcome the outcome of the H.L. Midterm Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action. We see the Midterm Review as a serious and ambitious document aimed at redoubling our efforts in addressing the needs of LDCs, and we put a high value on creating synergies with the 2030 Agenda, with the aim of designing a comprehensive and sensible strategy to achieve sustainable development in the Least Developed Countries;


·      We would like to reiterate the relevance of the timely implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the importance of developing disaster risk reduction strategies for a better and more effective implementation of the SDGs;

Mr. Chairman,

2016 marks an important year for the work of Second Committee and the UN Development System as a whole, as we are called to adopt the new Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR). This resolution is of the utmost importance, especially in light of the need to align the UN Development System with the 2030 Agenda, as well as the need to fostering a more comprehensive and effective approach to sustainable development.

We call for the new QCPR to pay special attention to crucial elements such as the transition from relief to development, enhancing the funding of core resources, poverty eradication, and the needs and challenges faced by countries in special situations.

Mr. Chairman,

This month is of extraordinary importance for the development process of Afghanistan. Tomorrow and the day after, the National Unity Government and the international community are coming together for the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. This key event will provide a platform for the Government of Afghanistan, the international community, along with other partners to reaffirm and consolidate their partnership for peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

For this important occasion, the Government of Afghanistan has prepared “Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework,” (ANPDF) a five-year strategic plan for achieving self-reliance and sustainable development, bringing an end to poverty, and ensuring security and stability to the country. The ANPDF has been developed in accordance with the goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda, by streamlining the SDGs in the relevant national policies and plans, with the goal of achieving the SDGs and addressing the unfinished business of the MDGs.

At the national level, Afghanistan has also developed a roadmap for the implementation of 2030 Agenda, learning from our experience in implementing the MDGs. The National Coordination Committee (NCC) is the highest coordination body for the SDGs implementation. Meanwhile, several other technical working groups, involving the Government, Parliament, UN agencies, civil society, and the private sector have been established to support the implementation of the Agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I would like to reassure you of my delegation’s constructive and effortless engagement throughout the discussion of this session of the Committee.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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

(check against delivery)

14 September 2016



بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Thank you Mr. President. At the outset, let me congratulate New Zealand for its successful leadership of the Council this month. We express our gratitude to the Secretary-General for his recent report on the situation in my country. We welcome Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto as the new Special Representative of the Secretary General and thank him for his first briefing to the Council. We look forward to working closely with him, and wish him every success in the important task.

Mr. President,

Since the Council’s last deliberations on Afghanistan on June 21, the country has seen increased armed clashes and suicide attacks, with high civilian casualties, testing our resilience and bringing the peace process to an impasse. During the same time, thanks to continuing support of the international community, we have maintained steady progress to enhance the capacity, capability, professionalism, and sustainability of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

In the midst of vibrant democratic debates as a key feature of recent political developments, the reform agenda of the National Unity Government (NUG), in line with Agenda 2030, is bearing fruit. Afghanistan has achieved progress in regional trade and infrastructure connectivity, anti-corruption, governance, rule of law and human rights, legal reform, restoring fiscal sustainability and integrity of public finance, commercial banking, development planning, social inclusion, and private sector development.

Mr. President,

During this summer, the world witnessed terror spread wildly across the globe, with major attacks in nearly twenty countries in three continents. From Libya to Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Mali, Germany, India, Angola, Congo, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Philippines, terrorist attacks took many innocent lives and inflicted huge damage.

It is clear that as terrorist groups face international pressure in the core, they attempt to strengthen their symbiotic networks and resort to more desperate attacks far and wide.

Afghanistan has also seen an increase in large scale terrorist attacks. In June, Daesh affiliates terrorized villagers in Nangarhar. A few days later, the Taliban targeted new police recruits outside Kabul. In July, Daesh affiliates struck again, this time against a peaceful civilian demonstration in Kabul. In August, Taliban targeted tourist buses in Heart, followed by an attack on university students in Kabul. In September, they targeted civilians, security officials, and an aid group in Kabul. All together, around 180 people, predominantly civilians lost their lives and 435 were wounded in these attacks, with extensive damage to infrastructure. Among the victims were scores of our educated and talented youth who were committed to the rehabilitation and development of their country.

President Ashraf Ghani on August 25 called Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff and asked for serious and practical measures against the organizers of the attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.

The savage attacks in populated urban centers showcased the cowardly behavior of the terrorist groups and their supporters to compensate for their so-called spring offensive losses. We have evidence that most of these attacks were orchestrated outside Afghanistan. Last week, we seized two trailer trucks entering Afghanistan from Pakistan with 35,700 kg of ammonium nitrate – an amount nearly twenty times larger than what was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Let us take a second to imagine the magnitude of devastation, had the attack(s) been carried out against us or our allies.

Judging from previous experience, as we approach the UN General Assembly Session, the second anniversary of the NUG of Afghanistan and the forthcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the Taliban and other terrorist groups may escalate their attacks to gain international visibility.

Mr. President,

Growing violent extremism and terror worldwide is proof that the current pace of counter-terrorism efforts is at best, lax, compared to the magnitude of the threat. Current efforts remain scattered, slow, and at times static, and have proven incapable to match the sophistication and ever changing tactics of global terror for its eventual defeat, as far as Afghanistan’s experience is concerned. As a strategic imperative, we must move beyond rhetoric and address the enablers of terrorism, including the role of state elements in orchestrating and facilitating the growth of terror. We need to review the state of UN counter-terrorism efforts to identify and address gaps in the implementation, and assess what needs to be done by relevant UN agencies to achieve results and effectively fulfill their mandates.

The Taliban’s brutal attacks have continued in different parts of the country, with particular focus on Helmand, Kunduz and Paktia provinces. Their aim is to create a durable political geography inside Afghanistan for the Quetta Shura and Haqqani leadership.

The response from the ANDSF has been remarkable. Successive Taliban and Daesh attacks were repulsed in different parts of the country, which proves that these extremist factions do not have the capacity to hold territory anywhere in Afghanistan. However, we are putting in place measures to preempt rather than react to their attacks. I am pleased to report that in line with my government’s five-year National Campaign Plan, focusing on reconciliation, security and stability, the mobility and effectiveness of our security forces have further improved Afghanistan’s resilience to the ongoing security challenges.

Moving forward, the continued support of our international partners remains critically important. We welcome the outcome of the NATO Warsaw Summit last July, which extended the Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016, reaffirmed continuing national contributions to the financial sustainment of the ANDSF until the end of 2020 and enhanced our enduring partnership with NATO. We have committed to further strengthen our security institutions and ensure service delivery within the rule of law. We will continue to increase our financial contribution to ANDSF. The empowerment of women will continue in all aspects of Afghan society, including service in ANDSF and political processes, as well as full implementation of Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. We have already taken necessary measures to protect children from the effects of armed conflict and have witnessed good, measurable results.

Mr. President,

Despite our constant outreach and efforts at the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), Pakistan is yet to utilize the opportunity to play genuine peacemaker. It deserves attention that based on the QCG roadmap they must take necessary measures against irreconcilable Taliban elements to win international community’s due recognition as a serious and genuine partner in the fight against terrorism.

We thank the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for its renewed focus on promoting peace in Afghanistan. We welcome the upcoming Ulema Conference in Mecca and Medina which will bring together global Islamic scholars to denounce violence in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

On 21 September we will celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the Agreement of National Unity Government of Afghanistan. We are committed to the full implementation of the Agreement. Discussions are ongoing among the leadership of the NUG to address the overdue commitments stipulated in the Agreement.

Let me assure this Council that our entire political elite, irrespective of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and political standing, is committed to preserving the national interest of Afghanistan, with full support behind our national security forces. Developments, perceived by some as “tensions” in the National Unity Government, and “rising pressures” by political opposition groups, are part of a routine exercise of democratic debate, and a hallmark of our vibrant society, where citizens express their views in accordance with their democratic rights. The 2016 World Press Freedom Index ranks Afghanistan higher than all its neighbors and 4th among 13 countries of South and Central Asia, in terms of ensuring a culture of free speech. We will work to improve political stability through healthy dialogue over outstanding issues.

Mr. President,

I am pleased to present the highlights of our achievements from the past three months. Afghanistan’s development needs are being driven by our extensive reform measures to curb corruption, improve service delivery, and promote transparency. Our collaboration with regional partners has resulted in projects that would transform the economic landscape of our part of the world. We have already seen the inauguration of TAPI, CASA-1000, and Chabahar Port Agreement, all of which present opportunities for regional cooperation at an unprecedented scale.

In August, we completed a major housing project of 2015 residential units in Kabul.  Additional projects are underway to provide over 11000 residential units, with support from China and Qatar.

Last week, for the first time in the history of Sino-Afghan relations, a special cargo train between the two countries was officially welcomed in Hairatan of Afghanistan. Also as part of Khaf-Herat railway project, an Iranian train entered Afghan soil, offering new opportunities for increased economic activity. Such developments reflect a spirit of constructive cooperation for mutual benefit in our region. We urge other neighbors to adopt a similar approach, and to avoid measures which undermine relations, such as the closing of entry ports, trade blockades, shelling and illegal construction activities along our south eastern territory.

We urge the Government of Pakistan to choose the path of cooperation to reinforce constructive relations and trust-building, a fundamental pre-condition for peace and stability for both our countries. To this effect, we note with satisfaction the announcement on the completion of Pakistan-funded health projects in Afghanistan by year’s end.

As a principle component of our foreign policy, we are convinced that regional cooperation and multilateralism are catalysts for peace and prosperity. In this respect, we look forward to the upcoming Afghanistan-India-US trilateral meeting, to be held on the margins of the 71st UNGA. Let me just inform the Council that President Ghani is now in New Delhi and India just announced $1 billion dollars of aid towards development in Afghanistan. We thank India for that.

Mr. President,

The Anti-Corruption Justice Center and High Council on Governance, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption are already operational, addressing Government corruption cases. Our judicial sector is being revitalized by a set of bold measures. More than 600 judges have been replaced, with 60 judicial officials being prosecuted for corruption and mal-practice. We have also announced new appointments and conducted performance reviews to instill a culture of transparency in our state-institutions.

In tandem with our economic achievements, our social sector is reaching new heights, with women increasingly assuming leadership positions at different levels of government. There are more women in senior government positions now than at any other time in Afghan history. Among them there are four ministers, nine deputy ministers, one governor, one deputy head of the High Peace Council and a number of senior diplomats at leadership level. The Ministry of Interior has opened six new child protection units in police recruitment centers, bringing the total to 13 in the country. We are committed to the protection of children and have prohibited security forces from using schools for military purposes. We are working on the national policy on civilian casualty mitigation which will be adopted across all Government institutions to better protect our citizens.

However, mainly due to continuous attacks by the Taliban and other terrorist groups, the number of internally displaced people has risen, especially in rural areas. Food insecurity and lack of adequate healthcare remains a challenge within this group, and the Government is focusing its resources to mitigate this crisis. Under the voluntary repatriation program, the number of returnees has increased significantly. The number of Afghan migrants to Europe has also fallen compared to 2015. We are grateful to the UN and our international partners for the continued humanitarian assistance.

On counter-narcotics, despite some increase in production and cultivation of opium, we are focused on continuing eradication efforts despite the security challenges. We are pleased with the outcome of the 9th session of the Regional Working Group of Precursors meeting, which, among other issues, identified next steps forward in precursor trafficking.

Mr. President,

The forthcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan will be an opportunity to showcase our long fought and hard won achievements to the global community. The focus will be on the joint international and Afghan efforts to increase the effectiveness of sustained international support, multiple Afghan reform measures, including public finance management and anti-corruption, as well as regional efforts to achieve peace and economic prosperity. The preparations for this conference are ongoing and we have presented the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework to our partners for their final inputs.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the global security scenario is undergoing significant changes and Afghanistan’s role in the fight against terrorism remains pivotal. We have long suffered at the hands of extremists and paid a very steep price through the blood and sacrifices of our people in standing up against it. For innumerable Afghans, the promise of a peaceful future has been robbed due to years of instability. However, in the past fifteen years, the Government of Afghanistan, along with many of our international friends, including the United Nations have worked hard to revive faith in the values we cherish—freedom, democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights for all. We look forward to seeing you at the Brussels conference to reiterate pledges of support to Afghanistan, and refocus on the long road ahead in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. A win for Afghanistan in this realm would be a win for the world, and we would be safer and prosperous together.

Thank You Mr. President.