Monday, June 18, 2018

Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

Statement at the 6th Committee on Agenda Item 109: Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism 

(Check against delivery)

3 October 2017


Mr. Chairman,

We congratulate you and the members of the Bureau on your election and we assure you of Afghanistan’s full support and cooperation as you lead the work of the 6th Committee.

We align ourselves with the statement delivered by the Non-Aligned Movement and the OIC group.  This year again, the 6th Committee deliberates on agenda item: measures to eliminate international terrorism.  We do so at a time when this enemy of humanity has grown even larger in threat, scope and danger – taking new forms and manifestations.

As President Ghani stated in his address to the UN General Assembly two weeks ago: “Terrorism is not only an attack on human life and basic freedoms, but an attack on the compact of citizenship, and an attack on nation state’s relationship with its people which makes democratic societies unique, fair and free.”

This underscores the imperative of a more effective global response, underpinned by the obvious fact that in combating terrorism, we are striving to advance the well-being and security of all of humanity.

Today, Afghanistan remains the front line state in the world’s fight against international terrorism – an evil that is alien to Afghan values, customs and traditions, throughout the history of our nation.  Our struggle against this global menace is ingrained in the social fabric of our society.   Despite the complexity of the task at hand, we are making steady progress in combating this evil. 

As we speak, Afghan security forces are battling terrorist groups who have come from abroad, and are intent on keeping Afghanistan unstable.  In this effort, our forces have – in different parts of the country – inflicted major losses in the ranks of terrorist and violent extremist groups – be it the Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaeda or other such entities. This effort continues with great progress, under our National Security Strategy, of which the fight against terrorism remains a key pillar.

Having suffered setbacks, these groups have now shifted tactics, focusing on barbaric attacks in populated areas; on ordinary Afghans; public figures, mosques, as well as well as international security and civilian personnel serving to promote stability and prosperity in our country. This signals the absolute moral bankruptcy of the terrorist groups. Needless to say, our fight against terrorism is a work in progress, demanding the continued support of the international community.

Outside the battlefield, we are working closely with regional countries, bilaterally, trilaterally and through other mechanisms and forums, including the Heart of Asia and Kabul Processes to tackle the threat of terrorism and other transnational criminal activities, plaguing Afghanistan and our region.    

Mr. Chairman,

Reversing the tide against terrorism warrants a more effective response by the United Nations.  The creation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), led by Ambassador Voronkov, is an important development.  We hope the new Office will function in a manner that will positively impact the implementation of all 4 Pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Yesterday I had a fruitful meeting with Ambassador Voronkov and I was pleased with our discussion.

Afghanistan has presented its recommendations on the activities of the said Office, and hope they will be duly reflected for the benefit of a more successful counter-terrorism response by the UN.

Moreover, we believe renewed focus must be given to the implementation of SC resolutions dealing with terrorism and extremism.  The 1267, 1373 and 1988 Committees provide a strong basis for suppressing the capacity, resources and other enablers that empower terrorists to continue their viscous campaign. All States must apply a blanket condemnation of all terrorist elements without any distinction; and prevent any form of support to terrorist, including safe-havens and moral, material and financial aid.

Afghanistan joins other countries in expressing our concern over the impasse in finalizing the “Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.”  All outstanding issues should be resolved in the interest of a crucial imperative: strengthening the UN’s counter-terrorism architecture.

In conclusion, we look forward to enhancing our collaboration with all member-states on strengthening international cooperation to defeat international terrorism. We will do so in the context of our strategic partnership agreements and also within the framework of the UN’s counter-terrorism initiatives.    

Thank You Mr. Chairman.       



UN General Assembly Debate on Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

STATEMENT BY  H.E. Mahmoud Saikal 
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the General Assembly Debate on Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy


28 July 2017

(Check against delivery)


بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s debate on the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  We thank the Secretary General for his dedicated efforts in fulfilling his commitment to create the Office of Counter-Terrorism, which in our view, entails a key pillar of his reform agenda. We also congratulate Ambassador Vladimir Ivanovic Voronkov on his appointment as Under-Secretary General to lead this important office.  We look forward to working closely with him and his team to advance the UN’s counter-terrorism agenda.   

The threats of terrorism and violent extremism constitute one of the most serious threats to a stable and peaceful international order. Over recent years, the scale and scope of terrorism has expanded and morphed to new levels and proportions across borders, regions, and continents. The enemies of humanity are still terrorizing communities; undermining the rule of law; violating fundamental human rights; and disrupting the lives of ordinary people. No country is more familiar with the horrors of terrorism than Afghanistan. Our people have been in the forefront of the global fight against terrorism for over two decades. In this struggle, thousands of our citizens, our national security forces, tribal, religious and political leaders, and other members of society have sacrificed their lives to secure peace in our country and advance global security.

For us, the fight against terrorism was the foundation on which we partnered with the global community to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Over the years, we have achieved considerable progress in the security, economic, political, and social spheres – all of which have led to the emergence of a new Afghanistan.  This very moment, our national security forces are valiantly fighting a nexus of regional and international terrorist groups that have come to Afghanistan for the destabilization of our country.  To name a few, we are confronting the Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jangvi and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

Despite logistical constraints, our security forces have inflicted heavy losses on these groups and kept them from asserting control over any territories. Consequently, they have resorted to gruesome attacks against civilians in densely populated areas, which amount to a blatant violation of international law, including international humanitarian law, and crimes against humanity. To this end, let me refer to some of the Taliban’s latest atrocities. Early this week, the Taliban attacked a hospital in western Ghor province, killing close to 40 people, mainly civilians.  One day later, they attacked a bus carrying our educated young professionals in Kabul, killing and severely wounding more than 70 people.  And on the 31st of May, the truck-bombing in the heart of the capital killed 150 people and left more than 500 severely wounded. Mr. President, terror and bloodshed is a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan, propagated by terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries in our region from which extremist groups are produced, supported, and dispatched to my country for their evil agenda.  

However, our people and our security forces will never allow the enemies of peace in our country to disrupt our journey towards peace, stability and development. We will continue our longstanding struggle against this menace with fortitude and commitment. In this context, we look to our international partners, including the UN to continue to stand beside us in our shared endeavor.

Mr. President,

Beyond the battle field, we are working diligently to promote and advance regional cooperation to defeat terrorism and promote a more stable and prosperous region. On the 6h of June, amidst the carnage of the heinous attack just days before, we convened the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation, where 26 countries and organizations assembled to coordinate efforts for ending the destructive cycle of terrorism, extremism, and militancy in our region. Moreover, we are also collaborating with our near and distant neighbors on counter-terrorism issues, within the framework of the Heart of Asia Process, of which the next Ministerial meeting will be held in Baku later this year.

We have recently taken new measures to implement and strengthen national legislation to meet provisions of various treaties, conventions, and SC resolutions concerning terrorism, which include but are not limited to resolutions 1373 and 2178.  As of late, we amended our criminal code to unify all of Afghanistan’s criminal legislation, and to ensure greater alignment with various SC resolutions.  In the area of law enforcement and border control, the National Security Council is leading inter-agency efforts on our National Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Action Plan. And on countering the financing of terrorism, we have institutionalized new mechanisms to prevent the flow of un-regulated currency. As a result, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has recognized Afghanistan’s compliance with its standards to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

The current scale of the terrorist threat worldwide reveals an obvious fact: that the international community’s collective fight against terrorism has been slow, incomprehensive, and inadequate in comparison to the challenge at hand.  This, in our view, is the result of various factors: weak implementation of counter-terrorism resolutions and sanctions regime; inefficient levels of coordination on CT issues within the UN agency and with States; insufficient levels of operational and technical capacity from States; and in some cases, lack of a genuine effort by some to combat terrorism tangibly and in good faith, be it on the battle field or in the area enacting and implementing domestic laws on counter-terrorism.  These impediments must be reversed if we are to turn the tide against terrorist groups in different parts of the world, particularly in our region.

Mr. President,

Addressing the problem of terrorist sanctuaries is a fundamental imperative for any degree of success in combating global terrorism. This phenomenon remains a key driver of terrorism and violent extremism. This issue is recognized in Pillar 2 of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as well as various resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, including SC resolutions 1373, 2178, 2322 and 2253. In this connection, we believe the time is now for the SC and international community to do more to ensure States abide by, and implement stated commitments, in accordance with international law and adherence to the UN Charter.

The creation of the Office of Counter Terrorism (OCT) presents a unique opportunity to change the calculus and help facilitate real and tangible change in the global fight against terrorism.  It will be critically important that the OCT operate with a clear and strong mandate, and enjoy the full trust of member states. Moreover, any effort aimed at weakening the office should be avoided.  Even-though the OCT will function within the scope of the General Assembly, it should also cooperate and coordinate activities with the Security Council, as the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. Such cooperation should not be limited to provision of technical assistance alone, but also cover other issues essential to a successful counter-terrorism approach.

Last, but certainly not least, Afghanistan calls for the early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism, which is of crucial importance to strengthen the international community’s counter-terrorism architecture.

To conclude, let me re-assert our firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. For over two decades, we have resisted and combated terrorism with a deep sense of national pride. This struggle has and remains embedded in the social fabric of our society, and we stand as committed as ever before to defeat this global menace for the benefit of humanity, effectively, and resolutely.

Thank You.


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

June 21, 2017


(check against delivery)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Let me begin by congratulating you on Bolivia’s assumption of the Council’s Presidency in June. We thank you for convening today’s open debate on the Situation in Afghanistan to take stock of the overall situation in our country.  I am pleased at the presence of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ambassador Yamamoto among us and we thank him for the comprehensive briefing.

We meet at a time when Afghanistan is undergoing another phase in our test to overcome adversity. Much has happened since the Council’s March deliberation on Afghanistan. 

I will focus my remarks on some of the most pressing issues of Afghanistan’s security and stability as well as regional and international cooperation.

Mr. President,

After almost four decades of imposed conflict with hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of displaced people, I do wish to emphasize on millions of displaced people, our country continues to remain under almost constant attack.

Earlier this year, given the effective measures taken by our security forces and their preemptive strikes, the so-called Taliban spring offensive came later than expected and faced heavy blows in different parts of the country. Unable to confront our forces directly, the orchestrators of our insecurity resorted to desperate urban terrorist attacks on soft targets and attempts to sow discord among our people.

During the recent months we have seen attacks of an unprecedented nature across Afghanistan, on streets, hospitals, cemeteries, mosques, diplomatic missions and political institutions. Since the start of 2017, major terrorist attacks in urban centers have caused significant loss of lives and property- over 500 killed and over 1100 wounded in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, Lashkar-gha, Khost, and Herat.  The most recent barbarous attack took place last week when worshippers were offering evening prayers in a Kabul mosque. 

While all attacks are equally condemnable, the sheer carnage of the 31st May was unprecedented in its kind in the history of Afghanistan. The truck-bombing in the heart of Kabul was by all accounts a crime against humanity and Islamic values, spreading horror instead of peace and piety during the holy month of Ramadan. More than 150 innocent souls were lost, including women, children, and journalists. Several disappeared without a trace from the impact of the explosion. Many were burnt beyond recognition; their identities still to be verified. Hundreds were left severely maimed and wounded – their lives changed forever. In fact, this morning I was watching television and I saw one mother searching for her husband and children, no one knows what happened to them. The nation went in deep mourning. The attack reaffirmed the obvious – that the enemies of Afghanistan know no limit in their brutality to break our pride and prevent peace and stability from taking root in our society.  Beyond the human tragedy, the local economy lost millions of dollars and several diplomatic missions suffered damages.

The attack triggered the culmination of social frustration and a wave of angry protests seeking security reform, which unfortunately has been leaving more death and injury, including a triple terrorist attack at one of the slain protester’s funeral. We firmly believe in the constitutional right of people to protest and know that if the door of dialogue is shut down between Government and protestors, violence will increase. No element of Afghan security forces, supported by national and international taxpayers, should ever inflict unnecessary harm upon civilians. Given recent events, the commander of Kabul garrison and police chief have been suspended and the incidents are being investigated. We remain committed to reassuring our people that our security forces are there to protect all Afghans and are at their disposal and service. In short, what transpired on that dreadful Wednesday morning was an attack on our people, our democracy, our economy, and on our partnership with the international community.

While Afghanistan continues to bleed, we witnessed increased terrorist attacks in United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Russia, Sweden, and Egypt, that prove that terrorism has no boundaries and continue to threaten people everywhere.

It is important that the civilized world, in its modern meaning, stands united in defiance of terror and secure peace and prosperity for current and future generations. We Afghans will do so in a spirit of national and global unity which has enabled us to overcome difficult moments in our nation’s life.

Mr. President,

Reversing the tide against terror is contingent on eliminating support centers beyond our frontiers that produce, nurture, and empower terrorists operating in Afghanistan. The recently released outcome of a joint investigation by Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and United States clearly established that the January 10 Kandahar attack was planned in Quetta, Pakistan. Similarly, early investigations verified the link between the Kabul truck bombing of May 31 and the Haqqani Network based in Pakistan. A joint Afghan-German comprehensive investigation on the attack is currently underway. We shall release the outcome in due course.  

The other external threat to Afghan sovereignty is the number of cross frontier violations, which have increased dramatically – almost four-fold – since my last March presentation to this Council.  These violations, ranging from firing of artillery shells, air-space violations, construction of military posts and barriers, to digging of deep ditches – all of which exacerbate the current situation, if left unaddressed will undoubtedly continue to undermine peace and security in our region.

In this Council, we have heard from a known neighboring state that our Government “should not externalize its internal problems and blame others for its own failures.” It is the same state that has been highly determined to do everything possible at its disposal to weaken and destabilize our country while accusing us of weakness. Let me remind everyone that those who want to attribute Afghanistan’s security and other challenges solely to internal issues are doing so to detract focus and attention on their long-standing policy of propagating violence and disorder in our country. 

Mr. President,

In dealing with the situation, we have been pursuing a three-pronged strategy: 1) strengthening global counter-terrorism consensus with a focus on engaging Pakistan in genuine cooperation, ending cross-frontier violations and facilitating the peace process; 2) strengthening our security and defensive capabilities; and 3) improving national unity, governance and service delivery to our people. Given the nature of the conflict, the success of our strategy depends on collaborative and sustained work at national, regional and global levels.  

Despite the enormous violence imposed on us over nearly four decades, especially this year, we remain firmly committed to the goal of sustaining peace. In that light, the June 6 Kabul Process conference marked the resumption of an important initiative for stability in Afghanistan.  The Conference brought together regional countries, key international partners, and relevant international institutions to focus on two imperatives: 1) garnering a new level of commitment in support of our peace agenda; and 2) identifying a common approach to end the cycle of terror and violence in the country.

We are pleased with the outcome of that Conference, which reinstated cooperation mechanisms to promote peace and security.  Naturally, Pakistan has an important role to play in ending violent extremism and promoting peace.  We hope it will seize the opportunity for the benefit of its own citizens and stability in the region.  Meeting on the margins of the recent SCO Summit in Astana, President Ghani and Prime Minister Sharif agreed to hold a bilateral working group meeting in Kabul in the near future on confronting terrorism.  Moreover, we also look forward to additional discussion within the framework of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), with the participation of China and the United States.

Despite the difficult situation in the country, our security forces stand vigilant, protecting our people and infrastructure, and preventing terrorists from capturing and establishing a presence in different provinces. They have responded robustly despite various logistical constraints in terms of resources, heavy weaponry, and air-capability. Let me pay tribute to the commitment and professionalism of those police officers who sacrificed their lives to prevent both the truck bomber of May 31 and last week’s Kabul mosque attackers from reaching their intended targets and causing maximum casualties. The enemy is doing its best to stage so called “Green on Blue” attacks in order to undermine international training programs and support of our security forces. Also, through selective targeting and careful allocation of responsibility claims for terrorist attacks, the handlers of terrorism in the neighborhood seek to create discord and distrust between our people and security forces. We will leave no room for any possible enemy infiltrators in our security forces.

The Government of National Unity is currently in the process of a national dialogue to strengthen consensus on relevant issues and address political grievances. We believe good governance can only flourish in an environment free of any particular ethnic or linguistic consideration.  We will continue to focus on the greater task at hand – working towards economic self sufficiency, tackling corruption, and humanitarian relief for our people.  Increasing economic development opportunities, with a focus on alleviating poverty and creating jobs, remain our key priority. Recent projects such as the Afghanistan-India air cargo corridor, inauguration of public transport infrastructure in Kabul, and the World Bank’s $500 million financing for various development sector investments are few examples.

Mr. President,

Today, the world faces an enemy united in its sole desire to bring death and destruction, dismantle state institutions, and create chaos. Hence, it is imperative that the UN acts decisively on its mandate – to maintain international peace and security. Last week, Secretary-General Guterres paid a visit to Kabul to express his solidarity with and support for the people and government of Afghanistan. This was a strong sign of his personal commitment to peace and security in our country, for which we are deeply grateful.  In the broader context, his visit reaffirmed that the UN would remain beside us over the coming years as we continue our journey towards prosperity. We welcome the creation of the UN Office for Counter Terrorism and hope that its activities and mandate will help bring real and tangible change in counter terrorism efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In the past two years, we have reiterated time and again two key concerns for Afghanistan: 1) concrete action against regional safe havens and logistical support to terrorists; and 2) cross frontier violations, which I referred to before.  On both issues, we have provided full briefings to the Secretary General and the UNSC. The UNSC is yet to take necessary and appropriate actions to address these two concerning issues. In our view, had it done so in the past, the situation would be different today. Another outstanding issue for the Council to act upon is the strict enforcement and strengthening of the Sanctions regimes. Further, the irreconcilable Taliban should be recognized as a terrorist group after their failure to engage meaningfully in the peace talks. Also, the UN must specify concrete criteria to clearly define state sponsorship of terrorism.

I take this opportunity to thank the Security Council for initiating a review of UNAMA’s structure, resources, and activities. We consider it a necessary initiative for ensuring a more efficient and effective UN support role in the country. During the review process, we highlighted the imperative of One UN and an adjusted assistance role that would be in conformity with the principles of Afghan ownership and leadership, as well as the priority needs of Afghanistan. We wholeheartedly thank Under Secretary-General Jan Kubis for leading the review process in the most able manner and also the UN team on the ground for their contributions to the process.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, despite all challenges, our people are looking to the future with confidence. They have made enormous sacrifices to come so far. As such, failure is not an option.  That said, the support of the international community, including this body will be critically important for our success. 

I would like to reiterate our gratitude for this Council’s expression of firm support for the stability and prosperity of Afghanistan. Today, as we stand at a cross-road in our stabilization efforts, we look up to you to help us overcome our security challenges by confronting the source of the ongoing conflict and not dealing with the consequences.  In this connection, the need of an appropriate response by this Council to the task at hand cannot be overstated. We hope this is realized so that our people are able to meet their basic aspiration of living in peace and security – free of terror, violence and destruction.

I Thank You.


Permanent Mission of Afghanistan