7896th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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SIX OFFICIAL 10-Mar-2017 03:07:42
Security Council delegates urge stronger cooperation in targeting terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan and building government capacity, at 7896th meeting.
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Pakistan Rejects ‘Baseless’ Claim of Using Terrorist ‘Foreign Policy Accessory’ in ‘Undeclared’ War on Kabul.

Condemning the recent surge in “abhorrent” terrorist attacks across Afghanistan — including one that killed 30 people at a Kabul military hospital on 8 March — speakers in the Security Council today urged that country’s international partners to deepen their cooperation, target terrorist sanctuaries and help to build up the capacity of the National Unity Government.

As the Council held its quarterly debate on the long-troubled nation, many delegates praised Afghanistan’s new anti-corruption measures, its efforts in planning for the 2018 parliamentary elections and other recent progress. However, some warned against the temptation to gloss over the deteriorating security situation. Indeed, many observed that 2016 had seen the highest number of Afghanistan security incidents ever recorded in a single year.

Following a moment of silence for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), briefed on recent developments there, emphasizing “now is the time for action” to improve Afghan lives.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation (document S/2017/189), he said that despite some notable progress, Afghanistan’s deteriorating security situation was making service delivery and economic growth more difficult. Access to health clinics and education was trending downwards, and some 9 million people — about one third of the population — still lived below the poverty line. “Developing a nation while fighting an insurgency is an uphill struggle,” he said. The National Unity Government — which was nearly halfway through its five-year term — must pursue both economic growth and an inclusive peace process, against the backdrop of deteriorating security, he added, noting that strong international political as well as financial support would be needed.

The Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said that, with its strong and modern Constitution, the country had been able to realize a real and meaningful review of its laws, approve new legislation in support of human rights and develop policies promoting human rights. She also welcomed meaningful steps towards peace, but cautioned against negotiating with terrorist groups, including the Taliban, while stressing that the recent terrorist attacks demonstrated that such groups lacked any regard for basic human rights.

However, a number of speakers throughout the ensuing debate disagreed strongly with that view, calling instead upon the Taliban to join peace talks without delay. Many delegates voiced support for the proposed extension of UNAMA’s mandate, planned for next week, while others focused on the need for stronger neighbourly relations among States in the region.

Several speakers expressed deep concern over heightened tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the former’s representative pointing out that the recent attacks had generally been plotted beyond the Durand Line, in Pakistan. The conflict in Afghanistan was not home-grown, he continued; rather, it was the nexus of illicit narcotics, violent extremism and State-sponsored terrorism, suffering an “undeclared war” by a neighbouring State acting through proxy forces and more than 20 terrorist networks. He called upon Pakistan to desist from using such groups as a “foreign policy accessory”, and genuinely join the international fight against terrorism.

Pakistan’s representative rejected those “baseless allegations”, saying that shifting the blame to his country would not help Afghanistan resolve the challenges confronting it. That country had consumed millions of dollars in international assistance and had little to show for it, he noted, cautioning its representative not to misuse the Council to deliver “gratuitous sermons”. Despite having paid a staggering human and financial cost as a result of Afghanistan’s crises, Pakistan had nevertheless successfully broken the back of terrorist groups within its own borders, he said. While some complained that Islamabad’s strong actions had pushed terrorists into Afghanistan, the truth was that Kabul’s weak border management was actually at fault.

The representative of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council Presidency for March, spoke in his national capacity, noting that the violence in Afghanistan was likely to increase in the coming weeks as the winter weather receded. In that context, all actors must work together for peace, he said, adding that targeted efforts were needed to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries and cut off their financing. Sustained efforts were also needed to improve human rights in Afghanistan, he said, pointing out that while the human rights situation was unrecognizable compared to that of 2001, “being better than 2001 is not the benchmark to aspire to”.

Kazakhstan’s representative was among the speakers who underlined the importance of fighting the illicit production and trafficking of narcotic drugs. In particular, there was need for closer regional cooperation to combat poppy cultivation and opium production, he said, warning that counter-terrorism efforts would fail unless development issues were addressed properly.

Also speaking were representatives of Japan, Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, France, China, Senegal, Bolivia, Egypt, Uruguay, United States, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Germany, Turkey, Netherlands, India, Iran, European Union, Australia, Belgium, Spain and Canada.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 1:11 p.m.
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1845622
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1846339