Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Security Council Debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
(21 December 2017)

Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary General for his report and Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto for his briefing this morning.

Another year has passed. Yet the suffering of the people of Afghanistan continues. Indeed, during this past year, as the Secretary General’s report observes, Afghanistan continues to face multiple political, economic and security challenges in an exceedingly uncertain and fraught environment.

Mr. President,

Lest we forget: the war, violence and terrorism that afflicts Afghanistan, and threatens the stability of the entire region, are the consequence of foreign military interventions, occupation and imposed wars.

Mr. President,

The peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound by the unbreakable ties of history, faith, blood and language, as well as mutual interdependence. When the people of Afghanistan needed refuge, the Pakistani people opened their homes and their hearts to them. Close to three million Afghans still reside in Pakistan.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is intertwined. Pakistan has a vital interest in a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan. Pakistan stands ready to support the Government of Afghanistan in addressing the multiple challenges it faces.

Mr. President,

To strengthen relations with Afghanistan in all spheres – political, economic, defence, education and culture – Pakistan proposed a comprehensive “Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity” last month. This Action Plan aims to promote constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement through establishment of working groups on political, economic, military, intelligence, and refugee issues.

It is evident that securing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and preventing cross border terrorism is essential for both countries. This can be achieved only through constant vigilance, effective management and real-time communication. Terrorists should not be allowed to provoke clashes between our border security forces.

We need regular contact between the armed forces and intelligence agencies of the two countries to prevent any violent incidents along the border. It is to this end that the Armed Forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to place Liaison Officers (LOs) in each other’s Army Headquarters and establish Ground Coordination Centers (GCCs).

The success of these initiatives requires reciprocity, trust and goodwill. We hope the Afghan Government will work constructively with us to address the challenges that endanger our collective security and stability.

Mr. President,

Apart from the conflict between the Afghan Government and the Taliban-led insurgency, a new and vicious threat has emerged in Afghanistan: the presence of a conglomerate of terrorists from various parts of the world: the TTP, ETIM; IMU and other Groups which have all now adopted the umbrella of Daesh.

These terrorists are now located in the 40 percent of Afghan territory which, according to a recent US Pentagon report is either out of Kabul’s control or is contested. It appears that Daesh’s “core”, under pressure in Iraq and Syria, may be relocating to these ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan.

According to the Secretary General’s report, Daesh remains resilient in Afghanistan, having claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in Kabul.

We are deeply concerned at Deash’s presence in the Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia. This poses a threat not only to Afghanistan but also to all its neighbors. It is the responsibility of the Afghan Government and the international coalition to root out Daesh and associated terrorists from Afghan territory and prevent them from launching attacks against Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Mr. President,

The growing nexus between illicit drugs and terrorism is an additional dimension of the security threat to the Afghans and their neighbors. There has been an unprecedented and alarming rise in drug cultivation and production in Afghanistan. The latest UNODC report refers to a record rise in poppy cultivation and opium production.

The Afghan Government and the international coalition must endeavor energetically to eradicate drug production and its links with terrorism.

Mr. President,

The central question in Afghanistan today is: do we choose the path of war or peace?

The international community is unanimous in its view, and so is the Secretary General, that sustainable peace is only achievable through a negotiated end to the war.

Pakistan has long proposed this as the most viable course to end decades of conflict and suffering in Afghanistan.

Sixteen years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful forces against an insurgency of irregulars, has not yielded a military solution. This failure cannot be explained away by alleging the existence of safe havens for the insurgency across the border. There are no such safe havens. The only havens that exist for the insurgents – and for Daesh and other terrorists – are within the 40 percent of Afghan territory, which is outside the control of the Afghan Government.

Peace will not be restored by the continuing resort to military force. Indeed, it is evident after years of war, that neither Kabul and the Coalition, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other. The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution are mutually incompatible. You cannot kill and talk at the same time.

Another resort to the military option will not produce a result different from the past. It will not break the impasse much less yield a political solution.

Priority should instead be given to efforts to achieve peace through dialogue and reconciliation. We urge the Taliban give up violence and enter into a dialogue and seek a negotiated settlement. But the other side too must display a genuine desire for a dialogue, not expect to bludgeon the insurgency into an enforced settlement.

While the international community, including Pakistan and Afghanistan’s other neighbors, can help in promoting a peace process, the principal responsibility to revive a dialogue rests on the Afghans themselves.

Peace cannot be achieved until the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the Afghan civil war and commit themselves to pursue a genuine dialogue for peace and reconciliation.

This search for peace through negotiations must be the priority objective for the Afghan Government, for the Taliban, for Afghanistan’s neighbors and for the United Nations.