I am honored to make this statement on behalf of my Foreign Minister, H.E. Mohammed Haneef Atmar, who very much wanted to be here with you, but could not travel to New York on such short notice.
Allow me to first congratulate India for assuming the presidency of the Council. I would like to thank the Governments of India, Norway, and Estonia as the penholders and the rest of the Security Council members in responding positively to our request to brief the Council about the alarming developments in Afghanistan.
This meeting also highlights the Security Council’s commitment to ensuring that the people of Afghanistan are able to live in peace, security and dignity enshrined in the charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In this regard, I should like to welcome the Security Council statement of 2 August, condemning the terrorist attack on the UN compound in Herat and the recent increase in the level of violence in the country. I also would like to thank SRSG Lyons for her thorough briefing and for highlighting the alarming threat and serious concerns about the situation in Afghanistan.
We are compelled to ask for this urgent meeting as the situation in Afghanistan has been rapidly deteriorating due to the recent escalation of violence by the Taliban and their brutal military offensives on major cities and population centers in several provinces.
In gross contradiction of the Doha Peace Agreement, the UNSC Resolution 2513 and of the regional and international consensus embodied in the Extended Troika and the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, the Taliban have launched a brutal military offensives, already causing massive death, destruction, displacement and
instability in Afghanistan and beyond.
What is even more alarming is their attacks on cities including Kandahar, Herat, Lashkar gah, Ghazni, Sheberghan and Zaranj as of yesterday.
Millions of people are now vulnerable to indiscriminate shelling, death, injuries, destruction, and displacement.
Our cities and public infrastructure that we have rebuilt with your support over the past two decades are now exposed to unimaginable Taliban’s destruction.
In this deliberate act of barbarism, the Taliban are not alone; they are assisted by foreign fighters of transnational terrorist networks.
Together, they are threatening peace, security, and stability not only in Afghanistan but also in our region and beyond.
It is our collective responsibility to stop them from destroying Afghanistan and threatening the world community.
The scale, scope, and timing of their military offensive is akin to an invasion unprecedented in the last 30 years of the conflict.
Since mid-April, the Taliban and their affiliate foreign terrorist groups have launched more than 5,500 attacks in 31 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
These attacks have been launched with the direct support of more than 10,000 foreign terrorists Fighters representing 20 groups including Al-Qaeda, LeT, TTP, IMU, ETIM, and ISIL who entered our country and are fighting alongside the Taliban against our population and security forces.
There is mounting evidence that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which has pledged allegiance to ISIL fought alongside the Taliban in Faryab, Jowzjan, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces where they are currently present with their families under the Taliban’s control.
The link between the Taliban and these transnational terrorist groups is stronger today than at any point in recent times.
Just as indicated numerous times by the Sanctions Monitoring Team of the Security Council, the Taliban, contrary to their commitments under their Doha Agreement, have not broken their ties with regional and international terrorist
In fact, these links are unbreakable as they have been cultivated and built on shared ideology, interests and goals, and inter-marriages which have been translated into joint attacks, logistical and material support.
The implications of allowing this network to continue to grow inside the country carries great security risks not only for Afghanistan but also for the wider region and even the world.
This is a shared risk and concern to all of us as they are not the Taliban of the 20th century coming from the isolated Madrasas, but the manifestation of the nexus between transnational terrorist networks and transnational criminal
Their links to drugs, to smuggling, to robbing of our natural resources, is unprecedented. And those who encourage and participate with them of course are the beneficiaries.
Therefore, this is not a civil war but a war of criminalized and terrorist networks fought on the back of Afghans.
Importantly, the Taliban continue to enjoy a safe haven in and supply and logistics line extended to their war machine from Pakistan.
Graphic reports and videos of Taliban fighters congregating close to the Durand Line to enter Afghanistan, fund-raising events, transfer of dead bodies for mass burial, and treatment of injured Taliban in Pakistani hospitals are emerging and are widely available.
This is not only a naked violation of the 1988 UN Security Council Sanctions Regime but also leads to further erosion of trust and confidence towards establishing a collaborative relationship with Pakistan to end the war in our country.
Consistent with the agreement of the leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan in Tashkent last month, we urge Pakistan to help with removing and dismantling of the Taliban’s sanctuary and supply line and establish with us a joint monitoring and verification mechanism to make the fight against terrorism and international efforts for peace effective and credible. Let me reiterate here that Afghanistan desires nothing but friendly relations and
peaceful co-existence with Pakistan based on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty.
We are alarmed by reports and incidences of gross human rights violations by the Taliban and their foreign terrorist associates in almost half of our country.
And we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities under Taliban attacks and what brutality would await them. I am glad to see Ms. Shahrzad Akbar, Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, to shed further light on the situation.
But shocking and heart-wrenching images and videos of Taliban’s brutality and cruelties against the civilian population and people suspected of working for the government and international forces are emerging in social media which are too graphic to even describe them in my statement here.
Suicide bombing, summary executions, revenge killings, stoning to death, chopping of hands, flogging of children, forced marriages and restricting women and girls’ movement are a common occurrence in areas under Taliban control and are sanctioned by official Taliban religious Fatwas.
Sadly this morning, we once again woke up to the killing of Dawa Khan Meenapal, Head of the Government Media and Information Center by the blood-thirsty Taliban terrorists in Kabul.
This is in sharp contrast to Taliban’s claim of moderation and respect for international and even Sharia laws.
Yes, the Taliban have changed but for the worst.
They have become more violent in their action, cruel in treatment of local population, more extremist in their thinking and revengeful against sympathizers of the government.
The imposition of the Taliban’s draconian rule has portrayed no positive change from the ideologies that dominated the thinking of the so-called Islamic Emirate of the 90s and what is espoused by ISIS and other extremist groups.
The indiscriminate level of violence exhibited by the Taliban has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in the country caused by drought and the pandemic.
Since the start of their offensive, more than 5,300 civilians including 1,960 women and children have been killed and injured while thousands others have been displaced.
This adds to the burden of approximately 4.8 million total displacements in the country and 18.4 million people who are in need of humanitarian assistance.
These numbers could easily increase exponentially if attacks against big population centers and cities continue unabated.
Therefore, the Council must act and prevent a catastrophic situation.
The fall of ten border crossings to the Taliban has led to suspension of trade and a surge in the prices of primary goods which is further adding to the misery of the population affected by decades of conflicts.
Taliban attacks have also come with a great cost to public infrastructure signifying losses of millions of dollars and years of development investments.
During this period, the Taliban have destroyed more than 260 public buildings including schools, hospitals, bridges, and communications towers.
Taliban’s destruction of public and private infrastructure has deprived over 13 million people of public services and has amounted to more than 500 million dollars of damage.
We are confident in the bravery and professionalism of our national defense and security forces to defend the republic which is the manifestation of our values and determination to fight for our homeland and the future of our children.
In recent days, we have witnessed an immense demonstration of support from Afghans within and outside the country for our security forces.
Our defense of the Islamic Republic has turned into a national resistance movement and our people have spoken loudly that they do not want to go back to the Taliban’s dark era of the 1990s.
Peace has been the most urgent need and demand of the Afghan people and achieving peace is the uppermost priority for the Afghan Government.
To realize this, President Ghani has repeatedly called on the Taliban to adhere to a ceasefire and engage in meaningful negotiations.
To support the peace talks, my Government has offered a peace plan and made painful concessions, including the release of over six thousands prisoners most of whom have returned to battlefields.
But Taliban continue to defy and ignore the call of the international community and more specifically of this Council to cease their hostilities towards our people and engage in the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
As the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan has been nearly complete, this clearly shows that Taliban and their foreign associates are fighting for power to turn our country once again into a safe haven of transnational terrorism which will no doubt pose a threat to the region and the global community.
Against this grim and disturbing situation unfolding in my country, it is high time for the Council to use every means at its disposal to compel the Taliban to end their campaign of violence and terror against our people to prevent further bloodshed and urge them to return to talks.
We ask the Council to use existing tools, including the effective implementation of the sanction’s regime under resolution 1988 and UN Security Council resolution 2513, to pressure the Taliban to engage in meaningful peace talks with the Government negotiating team.
We request the council to discharge its responsibilities under the United Nations charter and take all the necessary measures to stop Taliban’s attacks on big cities and population centers.
Currently, six cities of Herat, Lashgargah, Kandahar, Ghazni, Zaranj and Sheberghan are under Taliban attack and soon other cities including Kabul will be targeted.
We ask the Council and call on the international community to take preventive measures including convening of a special session of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council to avert a catastrophic situation of human rights violations and large-scale displacement of civilian populations which we have witnessed in the middle east and other conflicts around the world.
We have an opportunity to stop this now.
We would like to request the Council and the UN Secretary-General to provide support to the ongoing peace talks in Doha and the regional and international meetings planned next week in Doha to achieve the goal of preventing Taliban’s attacks on cities and of reaching political settlement and ceasefire.
We appreciate and support the role of UNSG Personal Envoy for Afghanistan Mr. Jean Arnault and special representative in Kabul Ms. Deborah Lyon.
And finally, we call on our friends and partners to support our government’s new security plan to stabilize Afghanistan and protect the region and the international community against the scourge of transnational terrorism.
In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to the steadfast support of the Security Council members and their principled positions in difficult times for Afghanistan.
I hope that today’s discussions will not only contribute to the peace efforts underway in Doha but also send a strong message to the Taliban about the council’s determination to hold them accountable to their commitment and promises in finding a peaceful solution to the current conflict.
I thank you Mr. President.