STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Ambassador,Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Statement the UN Security Council meeting on The Situation in Afghanistan
(Check against delivery)
17 December 2018
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the Presidency of the Council this month. We also welcome the presence of our good colleague, SRSG Yamamoto, Mr. Fedetov of UNODC, and Ms. Ghizaal Haress from the civil society of our country. We thank the Secretary General for his report, providing a useful update on the overall situation in Afghanistan.
Today’s meeting convenes against the backdrop of important developments. These include the renewed international partnership as affirmed by the Geneva Ministerial Conference and adoption of the General Assembly’s resolution on Afghanistan two weeks ago; new measures in the context of Afghan-led peace efforts, supported by regional and global partners; as well as sustained progress by our national defense and security forces in their fight against regional and global terrorist groups and enhanced economic cooperation, by virtue of regional connectivity projects. Moreover, our parliamentary elections were, in spite of challenges, another opportunity where our people, through ballots, took another step towards consolidation of democracy and rule of law.
These series of events provide a clear picture of the way in which our people have been turning the corner in their difficult journey towards stability and self-reliance. The United Nations played a crucial role in co-chairing the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan and supporting our parliamentary elections, for which we are very thankful.
In the area of security, our national security forces have, at great sacrifice, kept terrorist elements at bay throughout Afghanistan. The Taliban and affiliate groups failed to register real gains anywhere in the country. Attacks to capture territory, including provincial capitals, were foiled with massive casualties in enemy ranks. Consequently, these groups, including foreign terrorist fighters resorted to new levels of brutality, with increased cowardly terrorist attacks on population centers, leading to a dramatic increase in civilian casualties. In the face of these atrocities, our people stand defiant in pursuit of peace and democracy. This commitment was evident by more than 4 million Afghans, over 45 percent of registered voters, who came out on Election Day to cast their vote, despite all threats and attacks in different parts of the country. Every candidate and every voter was a target of the Taliban. As we await the final results of parliamentary elections, our next focus is to address the shortcomings to ensure successful presidential elections currently scheduled for April next year.
Our people have embraced and were inspired by the international community’s renewed partnership and support for a number of imperatives which are crucial for our ultimate success. Among the most important issues discussed in Geneva were our peace efforts, presented by President Ghani and Chief Exutive Abdullah, in the context of the Road Map for Peace, which was deliberated at great length. We have fostered an unprecedented level of consensus on the imperative of peace, nationally, regionally and internationally. Internally, an extensive consultative process, culminated in the creation of a negotiating team and an Advisory Board that will provide strategic input on various aspects and stages of the peace talks, once it begins. I just learned this morning that the advisory board had its first meeting today. Regionally, a number of additional countries have stood behind our efforts, recognizing that the prospect of peace is now within reach. Internationally, we welcome the efforts of US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, which has brought new momentum to the peace efforts.
We welcome all forms of support for peace, and underline that all such initiatives should be under the purview of Afghanistan’s leadership of the process. Let me reaffirm to the Council, we seek a peace that is durable, with increased political, social and economic opportunities for our people. A peace that protects human rights, especially women’s rights and consolidates the gains of the past 17 years. A peace that keeps Afghanistan friendly to the region and the world at large. Any misuse, abuse and instrumentalization of the peace process, by anyone, will not be tolerated by the people of Afghanistan who have paid a heavy price in the past forty years of imposed conflicts.
Notwithstanding, the imperative of genuine and tangible regional support for peace is of crucial importance. We have always asserted that the Government of Pakistan has a particularly important role to play, given its leverage over key Taliban figures. Support for peace is one of the key commitments stipulated in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which entered into force in April. The Action Plan constitutes an important framework to effectively counter terrorism, help advance peace and avoid territorial violations. Nevertheless, progress on various fronts has thus far been elusive.
Last Saturday, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China gathered at Foreign Ministers level in Kabul in the 2nd Round of the Trilateral Dialogue Platform. Discussions centered on tangible measures to build trust, by addressing outstanding issues, mainly focused on countering terrorism to reduce violence in Afghanistan. Regarding peace efforts, we reiterated our request from Pakistan to do what is necessary to facilitate direct talks. And in regards to security, we asserted that mutual trust and confidence is only possible when we see a reduction in violence, and more tangible measures against terrorist elements. We hope to see visible progress in the coming weeks and months, based on new commitments made, as well as the expectations of our people and the international community.
Afghanistan’s worst drought this century has affected our people leading to food insecurity, internal displacement and other drastic humanitarian implications. We appeal to the international community to help provide the support needed in order to alleviate this alarming situation, including through contributions to the Emergency Appeal launched by the UN. Amidst the challenges facing Afghanistan, adequately addressing the humanitarian crisis should not be overlooked.
In January this year, the Security Council visited Kabul under Kazakhstan Presidency and made a strong pledge to improve coordination and consensus on security and development in Afghanistan. What followed was a high-level Ministerial meeting of this Council on “Building Regional Partnerships in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model to link security and development.” This was seminal in setting a trend to approach the security of Afghanistan from a development perspective. It reinforced a growing focus among broad regional partners to advance numerous mega projects, primarily under the Afghan-led RECCA and Heart of Asia Processes.
Last week, in a historic event, President Ghani inaugurated the long awaited Lapis Lazuli Corridor project, signed by Foreign Minister Rabbani and his Turkmen, Azeri, Georgian and Turkish counterparts in Ashgabat in November last year. This landmark project reinstates the old trade route in its modern version, transporting famous Afghan products to Turkey and European markets through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Moreover, since last year, we have operationalized air-cargo corridors with India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Europe, Russian Federation, UAE, Saudi Arabia and China, leading to a substantial increase in export of Afghan products abroad. The Chabahar Port remains an important gateway for providing commercially viable access to the sea linking the Indian Ocean with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond. In this regard, we appreciate the collaboration and flexibility of our strategic partner, the United States to work with Afghanistan, Iran and India towards exempting the port from its Sanctions. 2018 also witnessed the implementation of the Afghanistan section of the TAPI gas pipeline project, which will revolutionize the energy sector in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Experience has shown that progress on all fronts, from development and security; to economic prosperity and social development, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, is best achieved in an atmosphere of amity, unity of purpose, mutual trust and cooperation for common good. Afghanistan is a rare example of a mission on which various countries and from different political blocs and security architectures, has converged for a collective purpose – ensuring an Afghanistan that is secure and stable, and through it, promoting regional and global peace and security.
We are pleased that this imperative is reflected in the recently adopted UN General Assembly Resolution on “The Situation in Afghanistan” two weeks ago. It “emphasizes that threats to stability and development in Afghanistan and the region require closer and more coordinated cooperation, as well as greater coherence and complementarity of approach between countries of the region and the international community, for the long-term peace, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the country, and underscores, in this regard, the standing of Afghanistan as a platform for such international cooperation.” This offers the surest guarantee for completing the mission which we all embarked on 17 years ago. In this objective, there must be no space – whatsoever – for seeing Afghanistan as a site of danger and battle ground of proxy warfare, but rather as a platform of cooperation and cordiality by location and strategic perspective.
As we approach the New Year, two issues are crucially important for our shared success. Firstly, the political transition must be transparent, inclusive, embraced by the Afghan people and lead to the strengthening of our national unity and political stability. We are looking forward to the completion of this transition, giving birth to a new and re-energized parliament and Government. Secondly, in relation to the peace process, its outcome should provide the basis for durable peace, preserving our many democratic gains, across various spectrums; and above all make sure that our country remains on the trajectory of progress, democracy and development. We count on the support of this Council, and all of our international partners for our joint success.
Let me end with a note of thanks and gratitude to the outgoing members of the Council; Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Sweden. We are particularly grateful to the Mission of the Netherlands for all its efforts as penholder on Afghanistan in the Security Council this year. We enjoyed a great level of collaboration between our two Missions on all relevant issues related to the Council’s work on Afghanistan. We also thank Kazakhstan for facilitating the Council visit to Afghanistan last January and playing a positive role in the peace, security, and development of Afghanistan and the region, within this council.
Using this opportunity, I would like to also welcome the new members of the Security Council; Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa. We look forward to working closely with them during their tenure in the Council.
Thank You Mr. President.