Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar,
Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan,
at the Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly,
on Agenda Item 38, "The Situation in Afghanistan."
(New York, 27 November 2012)
Thank you for convening this important debate which provides the General Assembly an annual opportunity to review the progress towards peace, stability and development in Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan needs continued and active engagement of the United Nations and its Member States. We hope that todayís meeting and this yearís resolution, which Pakistan is pleased to co-sponsor, will strengthen our collective commitment to Afghanistan.
- After decade long endeavors of the international community for state-building in Afghanistan the country is poised to assume full responsibility for its security and governance.
- The Transition process, initiated after the 2010 Kabul Conference, generated the optimism of a destination-in-sight. Since then, Afghanistanís progress on assuming greater responsibilities is discernable. Further progress on Transition would require sustained engagement of the international community. This yearís Chicago Summit and Tokyo Conference outlined the framework of such an engagement.
- It is important for all pledges to be honored and translated into action. There should be no repeat of Afghanistan being left to fend for itself.
- This year, the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was reviewed, with a view to aligning it with the Transition process. We hope this would allow UNAMA to play a more productive role.
- The Afghan governmentís greater control of territory is encouraging. This can enhance public perception of greater security and confidence in institutional structures which is critical for long term stability.
- The Secretary Generalís latest report has assessment of the post-2014 Afghanistan. We agree that security and humanitarian risks associated with the withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) must be addressed in a forthright manner.
- Four decades of war have made it clear that the vexing question of Afghan security does not lend itself to military solutions. A comprehensive approach alone, can change the underlying dynamics of a deep-seated cycle of conflict. The Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process is a manifestation of this realization. It rightly seeks to address the root causes of insecurity and tackles the fundamental nature of conflict in Afghanistan.
- We believe that sustainability of the peace process will be ensured if all stakeholders share the goal of reconciliation. Afghanistanís international partners should facilitate such a convergence.
- Externally imposed impracticable caveats complicate the peace process. Similarly, the idea of coerced reconciliation runs counter to a fundamental lesson of Afghan history.
- Pakistan supports an Afghan-led peace process. We fully support the efforts of the Afghan High Peace Council under the able leadership of Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani.
- Pakistan has always emphasized the importance of regional unity to deal with challenges of security and development in Afghanistan. Immediate neighbours have a special role in the stability of Afghanistan.
- Pakistan is engaged in a number of important regional initiatives on Afghanistan which aim at greater regional connectivity to promote economic and commercial cooperation as well as rooting out narcotics, terrorism and extremism.
- This month, Pakistan organized the Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Narcotics, with participation of thirteen countries. The conference declaration seeks to establish a Regional Contact Group on Counter-Narcotics as part of a comprehensive regional approach. It charts a concrete roadmap, based on agreed timelines.
- Pakistanís bilateral relations with Afghanistan are driven by a sense of shared destiny. Our cooperation spans the entire spectrum of political, economic, education and cultural relations. There is continuous dialogue and regular exchange of visits, including at the highest levels.
- Pakistan is engaged in several reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan, including construction of hospitals, roads and educational institutions. In 2010, Pakistan doubled the number of scholarships offered to Afghan students for higher education. Our official bilateral trade with Afghanistan stands at around US$ 2 billion annually. The target to enhance it to US$ 5 billion by 2015 is well within reach.
- In the area of security, Pakistan has sought closer engagement with Afghanistan and its international partners on real issues that lie beyond polemics. We need further consolidation of our security and intelligence cooperation through the Tripartite Commission, which also includes the United States and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
- Interdiction of illegal cross-border movement is vital to counter the menace of terrorism, drug-trafficking and commercial smuggling. This is a joint responsibility which needs to be discharged more vigorously.
- Recently, Pakistan further enhanced its security presence on its side of the international border with Afghanistan, through new check-posts and regular patrolling
- Our deployments along the international border far exceed the number of international and Afghan forces present on the other side. Presence of security forces on Afghan side of the border needs to be enhanced. Effective measures should be in place to prevent cross-border attacks on our border posts, security patrols and border villages. The leaderships of the two countries have resolved to address such matters through appropriate forums and channels. We hope that recent bilateral commitments in this regard will be upheld.
- Humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is often eclipsed by the glare of security and political challenges. This is unfortunate, as the country continues to suffer from natural calamities, food insecurity and impact of conflict.
- We hope that shortfalls in UN Consolidated Appeal for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will be met as much as possible, to limit the impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population.
- By hosting more than three million Afghan refugees, Pakistan is easing the humanitarian burden on Afghanistan, at considerable economic and social cost to itself.
- During the last ten years, Pakistanís average annual budget for Afghan refugees has nearly doubled. After ten years of internationally-assisted state-building efforts in Afghanistan, more refugees should be repatriated to the country. Creating pull-factors in Afghanistan is part of the Solution Strategy on Afghan refugees agreed to in Geneva this year. We look forward to its smooth implementation.
- I will conclude by emphasizing Pakistanís abiding commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
- No country has suffered more than Pakistan from the conflict and instability in Afghanistan. No country stands to gain more than Pakistan from normalcy in Afghanistan.
- We are confident that through unity and genuine reconciliation, the valiant people of Afghanistan will surmount all pressing challenges to usher in a brighter and prosperous future. Pakistan will remain their committed and steadfast partner.
I thank you.