December 22, 2010 â€“ Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations today addressed an open-debate of the UN Security Council on the â€œSituation in Afghanistan.â€
The meeting, which convened to consider the recent report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Afghanistan, was also attended by the Special Representative of the UNSG, Staffan Di Mistura.
In his statement, Ambassador Tanin underscored important developments over the course of the year, citing the â€œLondon Conference, followed by the Peace Jirga, Kabul Conference, the second parliamentary elections and NATO Summit in Lisbon.â€ He noted that in addition to important progress in â€œdefining and strengtheningâ€ its partnership with the international community, Afghanistan â€œsought to re-engage the Afghan people in all effortsâ€ to achieve lasting peace and security, strengthen regional cooperation and reach out to the armed opposition.â€
Highlighting the importance of the Lisbon Summit, he said the high-level gathering marked a milestone towards â€œreassuring an enduring partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.â€ He said the gathering sent three messages: a message to the Afghan people that Afghanistanâ€™s international partners would remain engaged in the long haul; a message to terrorists and extremists that they would fail in their effort to take Afghanistan back to the days of tyranny and oppression; and a message to the region that regional cooperation was â€œvital,â€ and that all neighboring countries had a role and stake in Afghanistanâ€™s security and stability.
On security Ambassador Tanin said despite continued attacks by the Taliban and other extremists security in the country had improved overall. He said Afghan security forces and ISAF partners had â€œbegun to take the military initiative,â€ particularly in parts of southern Afghanistan which previously saw high levels of insecurity.Â He further noted that Afghan security forces were â€œexerting greater presence and control in territories previously held by enemy combatants.â€
Additionally, he noted that progress in the fight against terrorism contributed to an improvement in public perception, by which local Afghans increased their engagement with local authorities and Afghan and international security forces.Â He stressed that consolidating the support of the local populace was vital for â€œa successful international engagement in Afghanistan.â€ He called for increased focus on ensuring Afghans with basic services and avoiding harm to the civilian population.
Ambassador Tanin said ending sanctuaries in the region was crucial for the success of the international effort to stabilize the region and eliminate the threat of terrorism. â€œWe cannot underestimate the need to address sanctuaries and safe-havens in the region which operate as the â€˜command and control headquartersâ€™ for terrorists and extremists,â€ he said.
On elections, he said the recent parliamentary polls â€œreaffirmed the commitment of the Afghan people to the democratic process.â€ He asserted that the elections took place under difficult circumstances, which gave way to irregularities, closing of polling stations and discounting of many votes.â€ He stated that Afghanistanâ€™s new parliament would be inaugurated at the end of January.
In reference to reintegration and reconciliation, Ambassador Tanin noted that outreach to members of the armed opposition would be pursue as a matter of priority. In that regard, he said for reconciliation to succeed, the Taliban have to put down their arms, renounce violence and choose the path of peace.â€
Moreover, Ambassador Tanin underscored Afghanistanâ€™s continued commitment to strengthen regional cooperation to address the many challenges in the region.Â He said Afghanistan and Pakistan continued high-level contacts for â€œwider cooperation in the fight against terrorism and promoting peace, stability and economic developmentâ€ in both countries.