Statement by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in the Debate of the General Assembly on “The Situation in Afghanistan”
(17 November 2016)

Mr. President,

We commend the German delegation for its efforts in skillfully steering the negotiations on the annual Resolution on Afghanistan, which the General Assembly will adopt shortly, and that Pakistan co-sponsored.

Mr. President,

The annual General Assembly resolution has over the years been, and continues to be, a signal and embodiment of support by the international community to the people and Government of Afghanistan.

We support the General Assembly’s call on the Afghan government to continue to work in a spirit of cooperation to achieve meaningful progress for the socio-economic development of their country. Unity within the Afghan government is indispensable for it to effectively address the multiple challenges the country faces.

Mr. President,

The situation on the ground today is a troubling picture of increasing insecurity, escalating violence, growing civilian casualties and rising threats to Afghanistan’s political and economic instability.

The presence of large numbers of terrorists, foreign terrorist fighters and militant groups in the vast ungoverned areas of Afghanistan presents an imposing challenge to the long-term stability of Afghanistan. They pose a threat not only to Afghanistan but also to Pakistan and indeed the entire region. Afghanistan could once again become a source of global terrorism, with grave implications for the region and the world.

Mr. President,

Through the Resolution that we will adopt by consensus, we will unanimously and unequivocally affirm that there is no military solution to the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan. Sustainable peace is only possible through a negotiated settlement.

This has been Pakistan's consistent and considered position throughout this long war. We are gratified that it is now confirmed by international consensus.

A dialogue between the Afghan Government and the Afghan Taliban remains the only way to end Afghanistan’s long night of suffering.

Mr. President,

While the international community can help in promoting the peace and reconciliation process, the principal responsibility for this rests with the Afghans themselves.

Progress will be assured only when the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the Afghan war, and work persistently, through a meaningful dialogue process, to achieve reconciliation and peace at home. The recent agreement between the Afghan Government and the Hizbe Islami group confirms that negotiations can succeed.

Pakistan is ready to assist in reviving the dialogue process with the Afghan Taliban, which we helped to facilitate in July 2015, at President Ashraf Ghani’s request.

Unfortunately this process subsequently stalled for reasons that are well known. However, this setback, though disappointing, should not deter us from renewing our efforts at reconciliation.

Pakistan's endeavors to this end can succeed only if the Afghan Parties themselves are willing to pursue the path of dialogue with the unequivocal support and participation of all members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, including the United States and China.

Mr. President,

For over thirty-five years, war and strife in Afghanistan have produced grave consequences for Pakistan's security, stability and economic development. Pakistan has been the major victim of terrorism originating from Afghanistan.

Through the determined operations of our armed forces, the clear commitment of our political leadership and the popular support of our people, Pakistan has turned the tide against terrorism. Our military operation against the terrorists, conducted by over 200,000 troops, has been the largest and most effective as compared to any in the world. Our comprehensive National Plan of Action is being progressively implemented.

Unfortunately, Pakistan's campaign against the terrorists is being threatened by external machinations. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its leader, Mullah Fazlullah, continue to enjoy safe havens in Afghanistan. We call on the Afghan Government to take action against the TTP, deny them safe havens and end its agencies' collusion with Pakistan's declared adversary to foment terrorism in Pakistan.

Mr. President,

To prevent cross border attacks, Pakistan has consistently urged the Afghan government to cooperate in instituting strict controls along the international border, finalize Standard Operating Procedures to address border management and support Pakistan's plan to fence vulnerable points on the border.

I wish to reiterate Pakistan's readiness to work with the Afghan Government, through the High Level Consultation Mechanism, to address border issues.

Mr. President,

The destinies of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are intertwined and cemented by age-old bonds of kinship, faith and shared history.

Pakistan has offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people in the past several decades of their travail and tragedy provoked by foreign military interventions. We have opened our hearts and homes to over 3 million Afghan refugees and sustained them for over 30 years with less than sufficient support from the international community.

We wish to see their safe, dignified and voluntary return to their homeland sooner rather than later.

Mr. President,

Pakistan will continue to extend economic and other assistance to promote peace and development in Afghanistan. Our pledge of financial assistance at the recent Brussels Conference is one indication of our support.

Despite the attacks and tensions it faces on its eastern border, Pakistan has decided to attend the "Heart of Asia" Conference in Amritsar to confirm its commitment to Afghanistan's security and development. Unfortunately, this "heart of Asia" continues to bleed also because of the stratagems of the forthcoming host of the Conference.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan and our region are at another crucial juncture, which may require strategic adjustments.

At this moment, it is vital to objectively evaluate the fundamental causes for the deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan, and the nature and sources of terrorism there and in the region.

Today, there is need to counter the terrorist threat from ISIS, from Al Qaeda and from terrorist groups, like the TTP, which are associated with these global terrorist movements. This is the challenge we must address.

Reconciliation in Afghanistan is being frustrated by local and regional interests that are marginal to the global campaign against ISIS and Al Qaeda- sponsored terrorism.

These local interests must be pressed by the international community in a concerted way to negotiate peace and enable us all to defeat the global threat of terrorism.

I thank you.