Monday, September 24, 2018

High-level event to launch the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” (2018–2028)

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Saikal

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the High-level event to launch the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” (2018–2028)


(Check against delivery)

23 March 2018


Madame President,

At the outset, I would like to thank H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly, for convening this important meeting. I also take this opportunity to commend the leadership of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan for working on this issue and bringing it to the General Assembly’s attention. My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and Paraguay on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. I would now like to deliver few remarks in my national capacity.

Madame President,

Water is the lifeblood of people all over the world, encompassing all aspects of human life on earth. We warmly welcome the adoption of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018–2028, as safe water and adequate sanitation for all, elements at the core of Sustainable Development Goal 6, will be indispensable to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

I would like to highlight a few key points:

  1. In Landlocked Developing Countries and countries prone to droughts the importance of water can hardly be overstated. We consider effective water management as key for eradication of poverty, agricultural and industrial development, energy production, and the creation of healthy ecosystems. Furthermore, climate change, the increased frequency of floods and droughts, and conflict are disrupting water management systems. Through this second International Decade for Action we can ensure these pressing issues are properly and fully addressed.


  1. For Afghanistan, data collection efforts related to water sources and water availability, the provision of technical support and expertise in water management practices, and reinvigorated and strengthened water diplomacy are some of the most important aspects for this International Decade for Action to be a success. In this regard, the sustained and intensified support of the international community is needed more than ever. These efforts need to be underlined by increased investments for activities targeted at developing facilities for providing access to fresh water and sanitation and strengthening national and regional water management systems.


  1. It is crucial to analyze in detail the nexus between rapid urbanization and water management. In many cities in developing countries, the provision of water services is heavily under stress because of the rapidly rising demand for water, and Afghanistan is no exception. This phenomenon leads in many instances to water scarcity and shortages in the provision of water-related services. It is fundamental to implement an integrated approach to urban water management in line with the Habitat III New Urban Agenda.

Madame President,

In conclusion, let me reassure you of my Government’s commitment to make this International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018–2028 a successful initiative. My Delegation stands ready to make the best use of this opportunity to achieve SDG6 and bring us closer to realizing the vision outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

I thank you.

International Day of Nowruz

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal  

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

International Day of Nowruz

20 March 2018


(check against delivery)


بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Watching the videos reminded me of a famous Afghan proverb:

“شنیده کی بود مانند دیده”

What you hear can never be the same as what you see.

After what you have seen from the delightful videos screened today, there isn’t much left for me to say. However, on this auspicious occasion, allow me to share just a few words. First, on behalf of myself, my Mission staff, and the Government and people of Afghanistan, let me congratulate my colleague Ambassadors and all Nowruz celebrating nations on the occasion of the start of our New Year. I convey my special greetings to fellow Afghans present here (سلام هموطنان عزیز، نوروز تان مبارک). I would like to thank the Secretary-General, the GA President, and the UNESCO Director for their kind remarks and also warmly welcome the presence of all others from around the world here today.

In our region, the celebration of Nowruz goes back to thousands of years in time.  Nowruz is a time of joy and festivity among different ethnic, linguistic, religious, and geographic groups. This special occasion helps bring people together in its spirit of joy, friendship, compassion, co-existence, and solidarity. During recent years, there have been collective celebrations in capitals around our region, which has boosted the spirit of better cooperation in pursuit of shared prosperity across the wider region. From the broader perspective, Nowruz enables people to come together and spread the values of community and a shared cultural heritage.

The onset of Nowruz is eagerly awaited by our people throughout winter. During this time, taking away the gloom and decay of the cold season, nature gives way to the bounties of spring. Nowruz symbolizes a time of renewal, revitalization and above all, the start of a new phase, manifested in hope, openness, prosperity and peace. This is our collective memory and shared tradition, as a nation and people, of this beloved day.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite hardships and challenges, this Nowruz in Afghanistan, we have extended an unprecedented offer of peace to those who have thus far acted to conduct violence and terror against our innocent and peace-loving people. We hope, this time around, our peace offer, enjoying the overwhelming support of the international community, will produce positive outcomes. The Taliban have a unique opportunity to abandon violence, pursue their interests through democratic and legal means, and work for a just and inclusive peace.

Now that Nowruz has ushered in the year 1397 in our calendar, we are hopeful that the New Year in Afghanistan, our region, and beyond brings renewed hope, stability and prosperity for our collective civilization, irrespective of linguistic, religious and other differences. On that basis, let us strive more to foster new and strengthen existing bonds of friendship, solidarity and compassion for a more peaceful and prosperous world for all.

Thank you and I wish you a very happy Nowruz.

Security Council: The situation in Afghanistan (8199th meeting)

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

March 8, 2018


(Please check against delivery)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Madame President,

Let me begin by congratulating the Netherlands on assuming the Presidency of the Council, and thanking you for convening today’s debate on Afghanistan, which coincides with International Women’s Day. Today, we pay tribute to important contributions of women in promoting stable and prosperous societies. This day is an occasion to focus on what more needs to be done to empower women against many challenges that they face, particularly in conflict and post-conflict societies.

I am pleased that Her Excellency Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of Australia, will be joining our meeting later, and my good colleague Dr. Habiba Sarabi, Deputy Chairperson of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan is among us today. I thank SRSG Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto for his briefing.

Madame President,

Today’s meeting provides another occasion to assess the overall situation in Afghanistan.

I am pleased to report that in the course of the past three months, the imperatives of Afghanistan’s security, stability and development received added international attention, with particular focus on addressing the root causes of the conflict and strengthening our defensive and security capabilities in parallel with efforts to devise a more practical peace plan. Our security forces, with better support from international partners, have increased pressure on terrorist groups across the country. Nevertheless, regional sponsors of terrorism, having faced international pressure and setbacks in the countryside, remain belligerent, as reflected by their efforts to engineer violent attacks in urban centers with high numbers of civilian casualties. Despite this, governance reform and economic development have continued unabated. A national dialogue among various political forces has been underway on issues that are crucial to our unity and political stability, the success of our peace efforts, and preparations for holding timely and transparent parliamentary elections this year.

Madame President,

Afghanistan has always emphasized that our partnership with the international community has been a strategic asset for advancing shared goals of defeating terrorism and achieving stability.  In this light, the UN Security Council’s January 13-15 visit to Kabul and its high-level meeting on January 19 on the security and development of Afghanistan and Central Asia, were clear signs of international support at the highest level. We are grateful to all members of the Council for their collective commitment and improved consensus on a more focused engagement on key issues related to Afghanistan’s security, stability and development. We wish to offer a special debt of gratitude to my esteemed friend and colleague Ambassador Kairat Umarov for his personal efforts in this regard as President of the Council in January.

During the Kabul visit, this Council discussed a range of security, political, economic and social issues with Afghanistan’s leadership in government, parliament, judiciary, High Peace Council, political parties and civil society. One common request pertained to effective Council action to address the sponsorship of terrorist outfits and the problem of their regional safe-havens, as a priority need for security and stability in Afghanistan, which was also reflected in the recent report of the Secretary-General on the Situation in Afghanistan.

Of late, we have seen new measures at the international level to shift the calculus and promote genuine and productive counter-terrorism cooperation. In this regard, recent decisions including the reduction of financial aid to the concerned State, and inclusion in the watch list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) represent a renewed attempt to encourage genuine action on the crucially important goal of defeating terrorism effectively. We hope that this trend continues and the response to these measures is positive, in the interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. 

Madame President,

Days after the Security Council’s visit and almost immediately after the January 19 high-level meeting of the Council, regional sponsors of terrorism, through their trained violent proxies unleashed a new wave of terrorist attacks. The sheer level of savagery in these despicable and heinous attacks was startling. Armed gunmen from the Taliban’s Haqqani network attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing 18, including 14 foreign nationals, and wounding many more. The subsequent week witnessed two more barbaric attacks; one in Jalalabad’s compound of the international NGO “Save the Children,” where 27 people died; second, an explosive-laden ambulance detonated next to a major civilian hospital in the heart of Kabul. The blast destroyed vehicles, shops, and buildings nearby, killing at least 105 civilians, and injuring 235. The use of an ambulance for such a ghastly attack is a war crime under international law, including international humanitarian law. This Council condemned the attacks and cited the need to hold the perpetrators, organizers and financiers of the attacks to account. Yet, despite all the evidence linking these attacks to regional sponsors, once again, the question is when will that happen?

Madame President,

Last week, Afghanistan convened the 2nd meeting of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation. This marked a major development in the context of peace efforts aimed at ending the conflict and achieving a credible and just peace that conforms to the aspirations of all Afghans. In recognition of our people’s demand for ending violence, President Ghani reached out to the Taliban in an unprecedented manner, calling for direct talks without preconditions.  Should our call receive a positive response, they will be granted the chance to become normal citizens, allowed to compete peacefully in politics through democratic procedures, be relieved from UNSC sanctions measures, besides enjoying the benefits of other positive measures. In turn, they have to give up on their long-standing path of violence. Moreover, our peace process aims to “protect and expand” not diminish, the rights of our people, especially women. The time is now for the Taliban to respond affirmatively and seize the historic opportunity before them.

We are inspired by the international community’s level of support to our new peace plan. The conference renewed the call for tangible measures in combating terrorism, in accordance with obligations stipulated in the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, and various Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions. We hope that States who failed in this endeavor will adopt a new approach, based on expressed commitments, for the benefit of regional security.  

Madame President,

For too long the debate on state-sponsored terrorism has been kept away from international forums, including the United Nations. Beyond the intelligence networks, the rest of the world knows little about the behavior of this aspect of terrorism at national, regional and international levels. 

The regional state sponsors of terror outfits exported to our country have recently pursued new methods of denial and belligerence by playing reverse psychology and attempting to distort narratives.

Irrefutable evidence of complicity in facilitating safe havens and logistical support to terrorists has been responded to by failed methods of counter-narration – accusing Afghanistan of “providing safe havens to terrorists.” Exploiting the democratic political dynamics of Afghanistan, they attempt to sow discord among our people, victimize refugees by unfairly linking them to terrorism, and portray their orchestrated terror attacks as “civil war.” Meanwhile, according to the latest UN report, we have suffered more than 10,000 civilian casualties yearly, over the past four years, mainly caused by terrorist attacks plotted beyond our frontiers.

In desperation they don’t even hold back from such heavily risk-prone attempts as to abuse and manipulate ironclad and all-weather friendships in international relations in favor of concealing the evidence of their sponsorship of terrorism, obfuscating facts and distorting narratives at regional and global forums.

In light of increased terrorist activities around the world, the time has come that we openly debate the regional state sponsorship of terror outfits exported to our country and let the world know more of its behavior.

The Kabul Process is not just about outreach to the Taliban. It is about ending the conflict, achieving peace and preserving the democratic order for which numerous Afghans and allies have sacrificed their lives. Moreover, the Taliban should not be permitted to misuse the opportunity presented as they have done so in the past.

Madame President,

As we grapple with security challenges, we are working to achieve important objectives, stipulated in the agreement that founded the National Unity Government, witnessed and welcomed by the international community. This is essential for our national unity and political stability as along with the success of our new peace plan. The effort is carried out within the parameters of a broad-based dialogue, with a view to advance the national interest of Afghanistan, in conformity with the spirit of our constitution. Our overall objective is to advance national unity, strengthen social cohesion, and inclusivity to achieve a just and peaceful society, fully grounded in the rule of law where our youth can fulfill their national aspirations. We are confident that our efforts will soon yield positive outcomes. 

Madame President,

On today’s special occasion, I reaffirm the National Unity Government’s commitment to empower women’s role in all facets of our society and polity. Dr. Sarabi’s presentation offered a clear perspective on progress made against the benchmarks of our national strategy and resolution 1325 and the challenges ahead of us. We now have female ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, peace makers, civil society activists, and ambassadors serving as proactive public agents for the development of Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, in a historic occasion, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, represented Afghanistan at the inaugural session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This symbolized Afghanistan’s overall commitment to universal human rights principles. Despite the progress, we know that our achievements for promotion and protection of human rights need consolidation, as manifested in the UNAMA report on civilian casualties that I mentioned earlier.

Madame President,

Against all odds, Afghanistan has progressed steadily on the path of economic cooperation, increased regional connectivity, and shared prosperity. We have expanded on multidimensional relations with our Central Asian neighbors, resulting in numerous agreements in the areas of trade, connectivity and economic cooperation. The inauguration of Afghanistan’s segment of the TAPI project in Herat by President Ghani and leaders and senior officials of Pakistan, Turkmenistan and India, after over a decade of preparatory work has generated new incentives for cooperation and opportunities for mutual trust and confidence.  Additionally, other regional projects aim to boost productivity and economic cooperation for common gains. We are looking forward to the forthcoming Tashkent conference on Afghanistan.

We wish to expand relations with all partners, including the UN. We are grateful for the crucial assistance role of UNAMA, which have been a catalyst in bringing change to the lives of our people. We welcome the adoption of the UNAMA mandate renewal, and underscore once again, the imperative of ONE-UN approach for optimum efficiency and coherence. Let me re-convey our appreciation for the dedicated efforts and leadership of SRSG Ambassador Yamamoto, a dear friend.

Combating the illicit network of narcotics, money laundering, and terrorism finance remain a key priority for us. Based on our National Drug Action Plan, we have continued eradication operations, and opiate seizures have reached highest levels since 2012. We will continue to expand cooperation with our allies to strengthen relevant law-enforcement agencies, greater intelligence sharing, and drawing effective mechanisms to curtail drug trafficking.

Additionally, refugee repatriation from neighboring countries remains operational. We are working in close collaboration with the UNHCR to provide assistance and much needed services to this vulnerable group. We call for continued international support for the joint  Humanitarian Response Plan 2018 – 2021, which requires  $437 million for 2018 to assist 2.8 million people in need. However, security and durable peace are fundamental solutions to tackle this humanitarian challenge, which require comprehensive national, regional, and global commitment and action.

Madame President,

Two weeks from now, 21st of March will mark the onset of Nowruz, the Afghan New Year. We are starting this new spring season with hope, determination and confidence. As international pressure on addressing the root causes of violence in our country intensifies, our defense and security forces stand capable as before to protect and defend Afghanistan against international terrorism. That said we have taken a historic step for the restoration of a durable peace in our country. In this light, we look to international partners, this Council included, to remain beside us in this endeavor.





Permanent Mission of Afghanistan