Thursday, June 21, 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

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.


Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the UN


H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations during his speech at the UN Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan


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

10 March 2017


(check against delivery)


بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Thank you Mr. President. Let me congratulate the United Kingdom on its leadership of the Council this month. I thank the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for presenting his first report on the situation in Afghanistan. Also, allow me to thank the SRSG, Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto, and Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Sima Samar, for their briefings.

Given the severity of the situation in my country, I would like to dedicate my statement today to the challenging security situation, hidden agendas, the peace process and the ever-increasing necessity for regional and global cooperation.

Mr. President, 

In recent months, dozens of terrorist attacks across Afghanistan have claimed scores of innocent lives. In January, three simultaneous terrorist attacks in Kabul, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces killed and maimed over 160, including six UAE diplomats. In February, the Supreme Court, our symbol of justice, was attacked, causing numerous fatalities. Last week, two separate attacks in the heart of Kabul killed many civilians. Finally, just two days ago Afghanistan’s largest hospital was attacked, leaving over 140 killed and wounded, many of whom were doctors, nurses, and patients. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, but regardless of whose names are being labeled on these attacks, our own investigations have clearly established that they were generally plotted beyond our frontiers, on the other side of the Durand Line. This, Mr. President, is the fundamental factor which needs to be addressed.

The UN Security Council issued prompt statements condemning these attacks in strongest terms, for which we are thankful. The statements underlined – and I quote: “the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice”. It also urged “all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Afghan authorities in this regard.” This is indeed what Afghanistan has been asking for many years. My Government and people would like to know why, after countless terrorist atrocities and specific Security Council statements condemning them, we are still witness to impunity for perpetrators and orchestrators of endless violence?

Mr. President,

Let me be very clear. The conflict in our country is not homegrown, as some desperately and deceptively try to portray. On the contrary, it is the nexus of illicit narcotics, violent extremism, and state sponsorship of terrorism with regional dimensions and global consequences. Tragically, it has morphed into an undeclared war by a neighboring state that has for many years, and still continues to coordinate, facilitate, and orchestrate violence through proxy forces and more than 20 terrorist networks. These groups benefit from a full-fledged external infrastructure to keep Afghanistan off-balance for motives that are inconsistent with our desire to live in a peaceful and prospering region. 

In earlier statements to this Council, we have emphasized, time and again, on Pakistani actions that sustain terrorist activities in our country. Today, let me quote leading Pakistani officials themselves. General Pervez Musharraf, who led Pakistan for eight years as President, proudly commented in a 2015 interview with The Guardian newspaper that “Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had given birth to the Taliban to counter Indian action against Pakistan”. Last year, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, went on record to say that Taliban leaders reside in Pakistan and that they have influence over them. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, former ambassador of Pakistan to the US, Russia, China, and India and UN SRSG to Iraq and Sudan, wrote in the Herald Magazine of Pakistan: “after the Soviet defeat and withdrawal, we (wittingly or unwittingly) unleashed a ruinous civil war and imposed a barbaric and medieval Taliban upon the hapless Afghan people.”  His words are but confirmation of the truth that “Pakistan talks one policy, but walks the other”. Mr. Husain Haqqani, another former Ambassador of Pakistan to the US and Sri Lanka, categorizes in clear terms, in a NYT 2013 article, the links between Pakistan’s state apparatus and the Taliban over time, and mentions in the context of peace talks that “the Taliban and their Pakistani mentors have hardly changed their arguments or their tendency to fudge facts”. These quotes and admissions that I just read were not “rhetoric from Kabul” or “blame game” as often claimed by a known member state. This was Pakistan talking!

Mr. President,

Against this backdrop, in February, a series of unfortunate terrorist attacks in Pakistan killed dozens and wounded many more innocent men, women, and children. As is the case, Afghans always share the pain and anguish of our Pakistani brothers and sisters. However, the Government of Pakistan, immediately and without any regard for an investigative process or clear facts, blamed Afghanistan for the attacks and resorted to increased breaches of our territorial integrity, the closing of the main border crossings, blockading trade and transit, and harassing our nationals traveling to or living in their country. Such measures constitute a clear violation of principles of WTO and the rights of land locked countries, including their access to sea.

From January till today, we recorded at least 59 instances of violations of Afghan territory by Pakistan military forces, including three violations of our air space, over 1375 cross-frontier artillery shellings that caused dozens of casualties, displacement of 450 families in the middle of cold winter in our eastern provinces, burning of our forests, illegal construction of infrastructure near the frontier region, and hostile maneuvering of tanks and heavy weaponry.

The travesty of decorum in neighborly relations did not cease there, as the familiar pattern of obfuscation of facts and diversionary tactics took over. We were then issued by the Government of Pakistan a list of, so-called, 76 suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, which after close inspection by us and our international partners, was found to be in desperate need of verification.

Our reaction to all these provocations has been sober and methodical. We have submitted 25 protest notes to the Government of Pakistan and, in the past few weeks, summoned their ambassador to Kabul on three occasions. We have submitted to their Government a list of 86 known terrorists and 32 Taliban training centers, including Haqqani network centers, asking for their immediate closure. We have asked for a third-party verification of the two sides’ efforts. No response has yet been received. The UN Secretary General, this noble Council, and other international partners are all appraised of these developments.    

Mr. President,

While terrorist attacks in Pakistan are strongly deplored by our Government, we are surely witnessing the blowback effects of using violent proxies as instruments of foreign policy, which was adopted by decision-making circles in that country in the 1980s, and is still being pursued to this day. In other words, the chickens are coming home to roost! We have reminded our Pakistani counterparts on many occasions that “you reap what you sow”. We say once again, it is time to change that failed policy for your own sake, desist from using radical terrorists as a foreign policy accessory, and genuinely join the international fight against all forms and shades of terrorism.

By bleeding Afghanistan, Pakistan is not only trying to create a stalemate on the battlefield, but it is also hindering the political track. Hoping to gain legitimacy for groups such as the Taliban, Pakistani decision-makers continue to use “plausible deniability” and shifting blame, as part of their defensive tactics while manipulating geo-political fault lines to their advantage.

They forget that legitimacy in my country flows through the people and a constitutional order, not through acts of terror, intimidation, and forced imposition of extremist thinking and radical behavior by misinterpreting and misusing our sacred religion of Islam.

Talks leading to a peace process can only succeed when policy is revised, the use of sanctuaries is prohibited, terrorist financing is curbed, and violence is renounced. Peace cannot be achieved by paying lip service and pretending to be a selective victim.

Mr. President,

As we speak, the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are battling, with great resilience and determination, a network of regional and global terrorist groups, who have come to Afghanistan for various objectives. In 2016, our forces prevented the Taliban and terrorist affiliates to capture major population centers. In January, we adopted a four year National Security Strategy, which focuses on bolstering combat capabilities, leadership development, and improving unity and coordination of command. The fight against terrorism will continue with even greater resolve, on the basis of our security strategy. That said, continued support from our international partners remains critical for the sustainability of our forces over the long haul. In that light, I wish to reiterate, here again, that Afghanistan’s strategic partnerships will, in no way, serve a detriment to any country within our region or beyond. On the contrary, investments in Afghanistan’s security are in fact an investment in regional and global security. 

Mr. President,

For years, the lack of a meaningful and result-oriented channel of dialogue aimed at addressing root causes of tension between Kabul and Islamabad has created a huge trust deficit. Reducing this deficit requires political will and healthy interactions between our two countries. On our part, if we look at the record, Afghanistan has always been ready to engage in constructive and result-oriented dialogue.   

We welcome any earnest and transparent initiative to help us reach that stage of dialogue. In our view, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) and the recent six-party Moscow conference on Afghanistan can serve useful in that endeavor, if utilized and coordinated properly. These initiatives, among others, emphasize a set of guiding principles, most notably that any peace process should be Afghan-led and that the region must support the Afghan Government in its quest for sustainable peace. Moreover, they also recognize the importance of having all relevant regional and global actors on board in a constructive manner.

We know from previous experience that any prospect of success in peace efforts rests on a number of important principles:

(1) Any attempt at resolving current and/or historic issues between governments require strong national political will and an impartial and agreed upon international arbitrator in good standing;

(2) All sides need to define and agree on the scope of dialogue and negotiations, leading to a specific set of deliverables and outcomes that can be supported by regional stakeholders, and eventually guaranteed by the international community;

(3) All sides need to be willing to address the root causes of conflict, not its by-products, and resolve areas of contention by adhering to and making use of international law, pragmatic precedence, and/or other best practice and judicial norms, and void of presumed realpolitik assumptions;

(4) Given Afghanistan’s sensitive geopolitical position, all peace-building and anti-terrorism efforts, in the long-run, need to have all key stakeholders on board, take the complexities of an evolving regional and global security architecture into account, and agree to a status that assures stability, balance, non-interference, sovereignty, and positive engagement in Afghanistan; and

(5) Keeping principles of sovereignty and non-interference central to our objectives, this requires Afghanistan to turn into a symbol of international cooperation, where global and regional powers set aside their rivalries and short-term interests, by agreeing to cooperate in a spirit of confidence for long-term mutual benefit.

Mr. President,

Finally, in a few days we will celebrate Nowruz – start of our New Year and the first day of Spring – a festive occasion that symbolizes peace, solidarity, and togetherness among our people and the wider region at-large. But as recent attacks have shown, Afghans will celebrate with a heavy heart. On the other hand, with their planned so-called spring offensive, the Taliban and other terrorist groups are adamantly focused on producing more horror, panic, and fear, leaving little room for joy among our men, women, and children.

This time, we hope to collectively counter their new season of murder and mayhem. Our brave and courageous national security forces are ready and highly determined to defend our people with full confidence and strength. We survived the post-transition 2015; we countered and defeated every major plan of the terrorist groups and their foreign backers to capture and control main population centers in 2016; and in 2017, we will, with your support, and by the Grace of God Almighty, humiliate and destroy the enemies of peace and security in Afghanistan.  We are fully committed to making sure that our New Year will be one in which we will open the way for durable peace in our country, our region, and around the world. We join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his appeal to the international community for making 2017 a year of peace. For us, it starts at home.

Thank You Mr. President.



Permanent Mission of Afghanistan