Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
22 June 2015
Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Malaysia for its leadership of the Council this month, and for organising this important debate. I would also like to thank Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, for his statement and the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan.
As we gather today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country has reached a critical moment in its history. The armed enemies of the country have embarked on a new offensive against the Afghan government and its people following the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s combat mission and the transfer of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). Today, the enemies of Afghanistan conducted a heinous attack against the Afghan Parliament in Kabul, wounding dozens of civilians, including children. We strongly condemn this deliberate attack against democracy and the representatives of the people.
This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS. These groups not only target Afghan forces and civilians with suicide bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hostage takings and assassinations, they also seek to take control of districts and even provinces to use as bases for their agendas in Afghanistan and the wider region in South and Central Asia.
Afghan security forces have responded to these tremendous challenges with bravery, strength, and determination. In the past months, they have thwarted many attempts to control territory, eliminated thousands of enemy fighters, and foiled plots designed to kill, shock and terrorize the people of Afghanistan. For the first time, Afghan forces have moved from a defensive to an offensive position and have shown more capability, potential and resilience than ever before. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, and to prevent the enemies of Afghanistan from sending the country down a spiral of chaos and disorder.
Security is a pressing national priority and is essential to the agenda of H.E. President Ashraf Ghani as Commander in Chief. Our efforts to defend the country do not only serve the interests of the Afghan people; we are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbours to uphold the safety and security of our greater region. As the national unity government pursues this agenda, we are grateful for the continued support of our international partners and their commitment to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. In the face of the great challenges before us, continued support to Afghan forces including air support and other necessary assistance will remain essential.
While our counter terrorism and military efforts are fundamental to the security of the country, it is clear that lasting peace requires a political solution. To this end, the national unity government has prioritized the reinvigoration of the peace process. Recent engagements between representatives of the High Peace Council, Afghan civil society including women, and the Taliban have promoted dialogue and mutual understanding and generated momentum towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-managed peace process.
The role of our neighbours is crucial to our efforts to secure peace. In this regard, the government of Afghanistan has taken bold steps to open a new page in our relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the last 14 years, an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability. We highlight the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Kabul as a positive step, and expect that Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability extends to ending sanctuaries and compelling the Taliban to stop their violent campaigns.
Following last year’s historic elections, the national unity government is dedicated to advancing its agenda for political, economic and social reform. President Ghani has appointed all ministers, and continues to appoint governors and other senior leadership positions within the government. Every Ministry has embarked upon a public 100-day action plan, designed to achieve national objectives as defined by the government’s Realizing Self Reliance agenda.
The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments and the government’s work. From tackling the Kabul Bank case as one of the administration’s first acts, to establishing a national procurement board – chaired by the President himself – to review every single government contract, the national unity government is committed to combating corruption, ending impunity and strengthening rule of law. A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.
The government’s dedication to accountability encompasses a greater focus on the transparent and effective use of international aid and assistance. Afghanistan is tremendously grateful for the contributions of our international partners that have allowed us to rebuild our country. At the same time, it is clear that development cooperation should evolve so that aid plays a facilitating and enabling role countrywide. We look forward to in-depth discussions on aid efficiency at the upcoming Senior Officials Meeting of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The government has also requested presentations from major donors, international financial institutions and the United Nations on their development portfolios, and is actively engaged in the upcoming examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan as mandated by this noble council.
The agenda for reform and transformation is guided by a strong commitment to advance the rights of all Afghan people, particularly the rights of women. There are now four female cabinet ministers, one female governor, and President Ghani has pledged to appoint more women in senior government positions including ambassadorial posts. Last week, President Ghani introduced Afghanistan’s first female Supreme Court nominee. This sets an important precedent, and shows that the government’s commitment to increasing women’s participation is not merely symbolic but part of a systematic policy to include women at the highest levels of decision-making. The national unity government is working closely with our international partners to protect and promote the rights of all Afghan citizens. Last week, the Afghanistan-European Union Human Rights Dialogue was launched in Kabul to provide a forum in which to discuss, coordinate and synergize a full range of human rights issues.
The national unity government is also focused on fulfilling its commitment to conduct comprehensive electoral reforms. To this end, in March the government established a Special Commission on Electoral Reform, which includes representatives of civil society and the United Nations, and this month the government announced plans to finalize the election calendar in one month’s time.
Afghanistan continues to strengthen cooperation with all our neighbours and countries in the region as part of a broader framework for regional cooperation. In the last three months, President Ghani has engaged the leadership of Iran, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and Afghan senior officials have participated at key regional meetings including of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process and other orums. Afghanistan has also signed the draft Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement, and the final pending documents for the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000), which will strengthen Afghanistan’s potential to become the capital of the continental economy, a hub in the Heart of Asia. We look forward to the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in September, which will be an important step towards ensuring further cooperation and connectivity in the region.
Our international partnerships remain vital to Afghanistan’s long-term development and prosperity. The historic visit of the Afghan High-Level delegation led by President Ghani to the United States in March reaffirmed our commitment to the US-Afghan strategic partnership. During the visit, President Ghani addressed the American people and Congress and held enormously productive discussions with President Obama and the leadership of the United States. Together they announced a New Development Partnership, which will focus up to $800 million in economic assistance for Afghan development and reform priorities. President Ghani concluded his visit in New York, where he underlined the importance of the United Nations-Afghan partnership in meetings with H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leadership of the United Nations.
At a time when new conflicts and wars plague the world and divert our attention and resources, the continuing cooperation and support of the international community is crucial to Afghanistan’s future. While Afghanistan faces great challenges, the country is steadily realizing the goals of the transformation decade and moving towards a brighter future. As we do so, we know that our on-going partnerships and the support of the international community will be essential to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, the region, and the world.
Thank you Madam President.