Thank you for convening today’s debate, which as always takes on a very interesting sense of timing, history and contribution of the United Nations and the international community for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
We are invariably grateful to Ambassador Zahir Tanin for his statement
Many thanks to Under-Secretary General Herve Ladsous for his excellent and wide ranging briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – thanks also to Mr. Yuri Fedotov for the eye opener from on drugs and crime, which must be recognized.
we must take cognizance of Mr. Ladsous’s statement that UNAMA is implementing a challenging mandate. The Accountants pairing knife must be controlled and the Mission must have adequate resources to enable it to achieve its goals. Hence, we must ensure that any substantial reduction in UNAMA budget will not impact the UN’s core objectives in Afghanistan – and I cannot overemphasize the matter. As Afghan institutions come of age, UNAMA too should continue to adapt to emerging trends and realities.
The Secretary General’s latest report and the previous ones, provides useful updates on the situation in Afghanistan.
The Secretary General has struck a note of “cautious optimism”, specifically in security transition, human development and growth of Afghan institutions. We wholeheartedly agree with him.
While placing confidence in Afghan transition, the Secretary General has rightly urged the donor-community to refrain from unrealistic demands in disregard of capacity-constraints. We believe that long-term engagement of the international community is essential for Afghanistan’s stability and economic development. In this context, deliberations in the forthcoming Tokyo Conference will be important. We compliment the Government of Japan for hosting the Conference and look forward to its successful outcome.
The Secretary General has also reported progress in transition of security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Pakistan greatly values this progress, which it sees as a guarantor of sustained stability in Afghanistan; as evidenced, and you would be pleased to know, by the announcement by our President of Pakistan’s financial contribution to ANSF, at the NATO Summit in Chicago.
Apart from capacity-building of ANSF, Pakistan has sought closer engagement with Afghanistan and its international partners on all security-related issues. Our leading participation in the seven CBMs on 14 June at Kabul meeting of the Istanbul Process manifests our commitment. We have maintained robust presence of our forces along the international border. Our deployment of troops and paramilitary in the border region far exceeds the number of international troops in the whole of Afghanistan. This has come at considerable economic, political and human cost for Pakistan.
Our ongoing intelligence and military cooperation with Afghan and international counterparts is progressing smoothly and improvement in military cooperation has been acknowledged by all players.
Pakistan’s narrative on Afghan security issues is untainted by polemics. Provocations through actions on ground and through rhetoric have not weakened our restraint. A recent example is the 24 June attack on a Pakistani border post from across the border, in which 17 Pakistani security personnel lost their lives. The matter is being taken up with Afghanistan at the highest-level on bilateral basis.
The latest attack took place from an Afghan area where,apparently, there is sizeable ANSF and international presence. It is a grave incident, which unfortunately is not unprecedented.Our response to such attacks is always through official channels. Unlike others, we neither play the blame-game nor conduct diplomacy through media. Such restraint, however, should not be taken for granted. Preventing recurrence of such incidents is absolutely imperative -- and safe havens in Afghanistan of such people must be dissuaded.
The Secretary General’s report has enumerated many challenges to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. He has characterized progress on reconciliation “slow and uneven”. Long-term solution to challenges in Afghanistan lies in a sustainable reconciliation process. The current policy must be transparent and not covert, subscribing to the vagaries of domestic politics. Sustainability of the process can only be ensured if all stake holders not only believe themselves but also share the goal of reconciliation. The process must not be complicated by inexplicable caveats or conditionalities. The idea of reconciliation under coercion militates against the obvious lesson of Afghan history. Afghan leadership and ownership and willing participation on all such matters is absolutely essential. For our part, we are and remain committed to an Afghan-led and owned reconciliation process. So far, we observe, unfortunately, no panacea to deliver peace exists in Afghanistan. Current handling of the war in Afghanistan places such expectation, perhaps outside the realm of rationality and fairness.
Despite the best efforts of the world community and the UN, Pakistan still remains host the largest population of Afghan refugees. In doing so, despite lack of acknowledgment, unjustified and unfair hyperbole and poor funding, we still remain the large contributor in easing the humanitarian burden on Afghanistan at significant economic, social and security cost to the already overburdened people of Pakistan. We, therefore, attach great importance to the outcome of the International Conference for Afghan Refugees held in Geneva last month. The “Solution Strategy” agreed through the Conference should be underpinned by a strong commitment of sustained support by the international community. We must look beyond scapegoating. We look forward to fruition of the commitment. Meanwhile, Pakistan is hurting. I would suggest that international community must stand up to the plate and bear up what must be borne.
Returning to the drugs issue, the policy to mollycoddle on narcotics production must be abandoned. There has been a policy to avoid antagonizing the farmers, so that forces would no longer participate in eradication of poppy fields. This has been stated in an article in Washington Post as well as in the book “Little America” and dilated further by Mr. Wali Nasr recently. We also welcome Afghanistan Country Programme2012-14, launched by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) last month. The programme’s judicious implementation should be finely honed to help address the narcotics problem, as highlighted in the Afghan Opium Survey of December 2011 and UNODC Opium Risk Assessment of April 2012. We have been rightly warned in the UNAMA report that financial impact of the departure of international forces might enhance the attraction towards narcotics. The warning calls for the world to acknowledge and start effective preventive measures now.
Even though my friend Ambassador Tanin has not mentioned Pakistan in his speech, Pakistan remains steadfast. I will conclude by reiterating our commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We have vital stakes in a peaceful Afghanistan. As stated by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan during the recently held “Heart of Asia” Ministerial Conference, “For Pakistan, Kabul is the most important capital of the world”. Meanwhile it would be inappropriate not to acknowledge the new position of NATO/ISAF, with regard to avoiding civilian casualties by air strikes. I pray this also applies to others as well.
Our Afghan brethren and Pakistan have suffered for far too long. We hope and pray for an early end to their plight, so that our two peoples could embark on a joint quest for progress and development, integrated with the rest of the Asia and the world.
I thank you Mr. President