25 June 2014
Thank you, Mr. President. At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Jan Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for briefing the council via video and for his leadership of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, particularly at this very important juncture in my country’s history, and I thank him in particular for his continued commitment to Afghanistan throughout the transition. I also welcome the presence of Mr. Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, here today. I am grateful to Australia, and particularly to Ambassador Quinlan, for their continued leadership on Afghanistan on the Council. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Secretary-General’s recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan.
This is a pivotal moment for Afghanistan; we are at the last stage of our country’s historic presidential elections. This democratic transition is the cornerstone of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned progression to peace, stability, and prosperity.
The Presidential elections on 5 April and on 14 June generated an unprecedented surge of democratic spirit in Afghanistan. It is remarkable to witness my country emerging after decades of conflict as a vibrant young democracy, one characterized by widespread engagement in the political process. This has been demonstrated by rallies attended by thousands, debates that were broadcast and viewed throughout the country, media coverage and information exchange on phone, computer, and television screens, and candidates’ public outreach, not only in the capital but, significantly, country-wide.
In an exceptional show of faith in democracy, Afghans cast their ballots despite intimidation by the Taliban and other extremist and terrorist groups so that they could have a say in the country’s political destiny. They dipped their fingers in ink, boldly asserting their right to choose a leader in defiance of threats to their lives and safety. In doing so they voted not only for a candidate, but also for peace, for the advancement of the gains made in the last 12 years and for a better future.
They did so by the millions, in numbers that exceeded expectations in both the first and second rounds. All segments of the population participated, including women and all ethnic groups, in all provinces of the country, in the cities and in the rural areas, and in the South, North, East and West.
Dozens of national institutions and thousands of citizens played a role in ensuring the administration, integrity, and legitimacy of the first entirely Afghan-managed electoral process. Thousands of independent domestic and international observers and candidate monitors covered the polling stations and continue to oversee the entire electoral cycle.
We are grateful to the international community for standing with the Afghan people and for providing technical, financial and logistical resources to enable Afghan institutions to successfully hold elections. We appreciate the support of the United Nations, including the United Nations Development Programme, to national electoral institutions in their management of a peaceful democratic transition.
We note with pride the professionalism and competence exhibited by Afghan security institutions during the election period. Their dedication allowed elections to take place despite serious security threats. Moreover, careful planning including through training of hundreds of female police and over 2000 civilians, and the recruitment of over 13,000 female searchers, allowed for the active participation of diverse segments of the population on polling day.
We were deeply saddened by the tragic loss and injury of civilians, election personnel, observers and Afghan security forces who put their lives at risk to protect the future of the country. We deplore the attacks against the infrastructure of election institutions, including the central office of the Independent Election Commission in Kabul and even attacks on candidates and their supporters. However, the Afghan people’s near blanket defiance of extremist threats sends a strong message that the Taliban no longer have the ability to destabilize the country. Despite the tragic loses suffered during the elections, peace and democracy have clearly triumphed in Afghanistan.
We note the steps taken by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) to detect fraudulent votes and to manage complaints in the first round, including through the blacklisting of electoral workers liable for infractions. Election bodies are again managing issues raised regarding the electoral process in the second round, attempting to avoid potential crises and to protect the legitimacy of our historic elections. These efforts aim to assure the integrity and transparency of the electoral process and uphold constitutional and electoral law.
We appreciate the United Nations’ readiness to stand up for the interests of the Afghan people by supporting the integrity of the Afghan-led, Afghan-managed electoral process, which will lead to the establishment of a new Government that legitimately reflects the will of the Afghan people. We see the United Nations’ support of the Afghan process as a positive step towards addressing the political concerns of the second round.
As Afghanistan transitions for the first time from one democratically elected president to the next, we continue to focus on the steps necessary for the country to move decisively towards full ownership and leadership in the Transformation Decade.
Afghan security institutions are assuming full responsibility throughout the country as combat operations by international forces near their conclusion. The future elected president of Afghanistan will continue to prioritize a constructive relationship with our international partners, starting by signing a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, and followed by the finalization of the agreement on NATO’s training, advising and assistance role in post-2014 Afghanistan. In this regard we look forward to the upcoming NATO Summit in Cardiff on 4 September.
The country’s progress towards sustainability and self-sufficiency depends upon the ability of Afghan institutions to perform key governance and service delivery functions and to promote economic development. This will require the continued support and assistance of the international community, as set out in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), adopted in Tokyo in 2012. We welcome the next Ministerial Meeting on the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework to be held in London in November of this year as a forum for renewing and reinvigorating the mutual commitments necessary for Afghanistan’s long-term prosperity.
As Afghanistan moves towards a new beginning, the inter-linked challenges of achieving security, peace, good governance, and development will continue to loom large. We were reminded of long-term challenges to development last month by the devastating floods in Badakhshan province. In addition, we recognize that illegal drugs and narcotics continue to undercut our legitimate development path, and for this reason we will continue to implement our National Drugs Control Strategy and call on our regional and international partners to focus on solutions which reduce demand and combat regional and global illicit networks. Understanding that terrorism and extremism continue to be the greatest impediment to development in Afghanistan and the region, we will continue to focus on peace and reconciliation efforts with the Taliban as well as other measures including the Anti-Money Laundering law recently passed by the Upper House of the Afghan National Parliament. The active role of all citizens- women, men and children- will be vital to overcoming our shared challenges in this regard.
Regional engagement will continue to be crucial to the peace, stability and success of the Transformation Decade. We believe that it is important to build upon the achievements of the last decade to solidify and expand a workable framework of bilateral and multilateral mechanisms with our neighbors and the wider region, as well as strengthening relations with the Islamic world. To this end, we look forward to the upcoming Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting to be held in Tianjin, China, on 29 August.
As Afghanistan expands its multifaceted cooperation with our regional partners, we expect our neighbors to continue to work towards regional stability. The recent operation of Pakistani forces in Northern Waziristan, which led to the displacement of thousands of families to Afghanistan’s Khost province and the associated loss of life, is a serious source of concern for the government of Afghanistan. We urge the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to prioritize the greater security of Afghanistan and the region at this crucial time.
The Afghan government is committed to a swift and successful conclusion of the electoral process. Preparations are well underway for the first ever democratic and peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan. All government institutions have commenced their transition planning and an inter-ministerial committee has been assigned to prepare for the official inauguration of our incoming President. We look forward to welcoming the dignitaries of all our international and regional partners to this grand occasion.
When we do so, Mr. President, we will remember that Afghanistan and our international partners have made tremendous sacrifices to ensure that war remains a relic of the past. It is essential that the country does not return to the days when bullets rather than ballots decided the country’s political fate. In the post-Taliban Afghanistan, no tenet has been more cherished than the idea that stability and legitimacy is a profound necessity. This principle has motivated considerable investment in terms of dollars spent and lives lost, and its curtailment would carry incurring consequences for the country and its people. It is our fundamental responsibility to ensure that peace and democracy are secure in Afghanistan today, tomorrow, and throughout the Transformation decade.
I thank you.