Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistanís Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during the debate on United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). (New York March 19, 2013)

Mr. President,

We welcome your initiative to hold a debate of the Security Council on Afghanistan.

We value Australian Foreign Minister His Excellency Robert Carrís participation in today's debate. We appreciate Ambassador Quinlan's leadership of the 1988 Committee.

Ambassador Zahir Tanin's statement gave us full perspective on challenges and opportunities for the people of Afghanistan.

We thank the Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon for his informative briefing today; and his strong commitment to addressing the issues in Afghanistan and the region.

The Secretary Generalís latest report on Afghanistan is both synoptic and exhaustive. It updates us about the recent developments, guides our discussion today, and outlines how the United Nations should help Afghanistan in the coming years.

We thank the Secretary General for his recognition of the concrete support being given by the Government of Pakistan for Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts.

Our commitment to this process stems from our strong conviction that peace and stability in Afghanistan are essential for peace and stability in the entire region.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is on the cusp of three concurrent security, political and economic transitions up to 2014 and into the Decade of Transformation.

If these transitions are managed responsibly and skillfully, Afghanistan will see a dawn of security and stability; and so would the region.

We are glad that this time there would be no precipitous disengagement of the international forces from Afghanistan. The drawdown is phased and well-planned; and bilateral and regional mechanisms will be in place to help with the transition.

In the past ten years, the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, NATO, the United States and other countries have paid a high price in blood and resources.

Pakistanís civilians and military personnel have given unprecedented sacrifices.

All these sacrifices should not go in vain.

The people of Afghanistan must succeed and we must succeed with them.

Mr. President,

The tide seems to be turning. We are encouraged by the recent progress in Afghanistan despite problems rooted in over three decades of conflict and strife.

Pakistan has always supported and facilitated the work of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

The resolution before the Security Council tasks the UN Mission in Afghanistan to facilitate national reconciliation, support electoral process and governance and promote socio-economic development.

We urge continued engagement of the UN in institution building; the peace process; counter-narcotics; return and rehabilitation of refugees; and coordination of humanitarian assistance.

The United Nationsí long-term political role should be determined by the ground realities and, more importantly, consent and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan.

We agree with the Secretary General that our expectations must remain realistic.

If there are temporary setbacks, we must stay the course.

The Council will today renew the mandate of UNAMA for another twelve months. We take this opportunity to pay tribute to SRSG Jan Kubis and his team for their commendable work in Afghanistan. As an enabler and capacity builder, UNAMAís footprint must be supported by adequate resources.

Donor-fatigue and fiscal constraints in international economic climate should not squeeze the inflows of assistance and investment into Afghanistan. It is imperative that all pledges are honored and translated into action.

We welcome the phased transfer of lead security responsibility from ISAF to Afghan security institutions.

Mr. President,

Pakistanís bilateral relations with Afghanistan are driven by a sense of shared destiny. Our cooperation spans the entire spectrum of political, economic, educational and cultural relations.

To deepen our ties, we look forward to early finalization of a Strategic Partnership Agreement between our two countries.

We are strengthening Pakistan-Afghanistan military and intelligence cooperation and making the trilateral mechanism comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) more effective.

Stability and sanctity of our international border with Afghanistan is a shared responsibility. With this spirit, Pakistan has proposed setting up a mechanism at the Interior Ministersí level to devise and enforce a border management regime in order to interdict all kinds of criminals, including terrorists, drug traffickers and smugglers.

Pakistan has also established more than 1,000 posts along its border with Afghanistan. More than 140,000 Pakistani troops are deployed on our side of the border, at huge financial costs. Illegal cross-border movement will drop dramatically if the security is beefed up on the other side of the border.

Mr. President,

Pakistan is committed to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. We agree with the Secretary General that Afghanistan will be able to achieve stability, growth and prosperity only if there is peace.

Pakistan supports the efforts of the High Peace Council to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan. We endorsed travel ban exemptions inserted into the Security Council resolution 2082 last December. We hope that these exemptions will lead to the desired flexibility for engagement and dialogue.

At the request of the High Peace Council, Pakistan has released a number of Taliban prisoners in good faith and after giving prior intimation to the Afghan authorities.

Inclusivity will guarantee the success of the reconciliation process. All stakeholders should be on board.

Instead of being hamstrung by caveats and qualifications, all sides would benefit form building on convergences, however thin they may appear at the moment.

Afghanistanís international partners have an important role in helping the principal interlocutors to move towards that direction. But only the people of Afghanistan can craft a roadmap for national reconciliation and determine their political future.

Mr. President,

Multiple regional approaches are being pursued to deal with the complex challenges of peace, security and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan. We are also actively participating in various trilateral and quadrilateral formats with regional and international partners. Our efforts are to keep them concentric, coordinated and non-competitive. In this regard, the Summit level meetings between the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have been most useful.

All these processes should culminate into economic and commercial cooperation and help the neighborhood root out terrorism, extremism, and illicit narcotics. We must counter terrorists' hideous narratives masqueraded as ideology; and staunch their flawed symbolism.

They do not speak for Islam or Muslims.

Counter-narcotics should be one of the top priorities. We appreciate the efforts being made by the United Nations, UNODC and International Narcotics Control Board to track and control the production and trafficking of illicit narcotics. This serious threat demands massive efforts and resources. We strongly recommend measures to enhance the capacity of Afghanistan security forces in this regard. UNAMA too should play a supportive role to UNODCís activities in counter-narcotics.

Pakistanís anti-narcotics force is stretched to its limit in interdicting drug traffickers from across the borders. We are trying to evolve a regional approach to tackle this problem. In November last year, Pakistan organized the Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Narcotics, which was attended by high level representatives from thirteen countries. For follow up, we are working to establish a Regional Contact Group on Counter-Narcotics.

Mr. President,

The spotlight on the security and political issues often eclipses humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is still hosting more than three million Afghan refugees. More refugees should be repatriated to Afghanistan and absorbed there. Creating pull-factors in Afghanistan is part of the Solution Strategy on Afghan Refugees agreed to in Geneva this year. We count on the international communityís support for the implementation of this strategy.

Mr. President,

We wish the valiant people of Afghanistan a bright and prosperous future. As they move towards this destination, Pakistan will remain their committed and steadfast partner. What we need most is faith in each other and a vision for common future.

I thank you, Mr. President.