Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the Security Council Debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) (26 June 2018)

Mr. President,

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

The Secretary General’s report notes that Afghanistan continues to face multiple political, economic and security challenges in an uncertain and fraught environment, where the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

It also underscores the risks posed to the forthcoming elections by declining public confidence in a fragmented political landscape.

Despite this bleak picture, this month has seen a ray of hope emerge for peace in the country.

A three-day ceasefire between Afghan security forces and the Taliban on Eid ul Fitr, resulted in an unprecedented pause in a war that has raged for almost 17 years. Even if the ceasefire lasted a few days it marked a moment of hope and opportunity.

Eid saw extraordinary and moving scenes of reconciliation in some places between those who, for years, had fought a bloody war against each other.

The comprehensive observance of the ceasefire by the Taliban also demonstrated that its leadership has control of the movement and is cohesive enough to negotiate a political settlement.

It is also significant that both President Ashraf Ghani and the US Secretary of State have indicated that foreign forces can be a topic of negotiations in any talks with the Taliban. This could open the door for a real dialogue.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has consistently advocated – over the years – that a negotiated settlement is the only viable solution to the decades of conflict and suffering in Afghanistan.

We have therefore welcomed President Ghani’s offer to talk to the Taliban without preconditions and US support for a negotiated settlement. The ceasefire earlier this month has demonstrated that negotiations are not only possible but can produce a positive outcome.

The opportunity that has opened up by recent developments must now be seized and translated into serious and sustained efforts to promote a political settlement and durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

While the onus for seizing the moment rests on the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict, Pakistan, for its part, will continue to do what it can to support all efforts to launch a credible peace process.

My country’s participation in all regional and international forums on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan including the Moscow format is a reflection of our commitment and unflinching support for a peace process that brings all the parties together to work for a political settlement.

Pakistan can support any agreed format for negotiations that enables all directly engaged parties to talk to each other. We feel that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group consisting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and the US, remains a useful format to pursue a negotiated settlement. A QCG-Plus format can also be considered that brings all of Afghanistan’s neighbors into the process.

A negotiated peace and national reconciliation is all the more vital to prevent the threat posed to Afghanistan, its neighbors and the global community by the presence of Daesh and a conglomerate of terrorists including the TTP, ETIM, IMU, and others groups that have adopted the umbrella of Daesh. They need to be defeated urgently and decisively.

We must not allow these groups to drive Afghanistan into another vortex of violence and instability, which would compound the threat to the region’s security.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has extended all assistance at the political level, as well as through our robust counter terrorism operations, to help promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s security is inextricably linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has a vital interest in a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan.

We stand ready to support Afghanistan in addressing the multiple challenges it faces. In that spirit, Pakistan has engaged with the Afghan government in a comprehensive manner, in the political, economic and military spheres.

A series of high-level visits by both our political and military leaders have taken place in recent months. These exchanges have helped to create an environment of trust and inject a positive impetus to our bilateral relations.

The recently concluded Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) will provide a structured platform for engagement between our two countries. Its five working groups on Political, Economic, Refugee, Military and Intelligence issues envision a broad and sustained dialogue between our two countries.

To strengthen defense cooperation, Pakistan has offered support, including to equip Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, gratis training in Pakistan, as well as financing and supporting the construction of the border management infrastructure.

For my country, border management has the highest priority. We are working with the Afghan government on modalities to deploy military liaison officers on either side, to coordinate counter terrorism efforts, and complement action against terrorist outfits on our side of the border.

We must secure our border to prevent the cross border movement of terrorists. This can only be achieved through constant vigilance, effective management and real-time communication.

Terrorists should not be allowed to provoke clashes between our border security forces.

Earlier this year, Ulema in Pakistan issued a Fatwa titled, “Message of Peace from Pakistan” This unequivocally denounced terrorism and suicide bombings anywhere in the world. Religious leaders from my country also participated in the Ulema conference that was held last month in Indonesia, and will also join the OIC Ulema conference next month.

Mr. President,

The international community is unanimous in its view that sustainable peace is only achievable through a negotiated end to the conflict.

Almost 17 years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful military forces has not yielded a military solution.

The path to peace in Afghanistan is arduous but achievable. As a first step, all the parties concerned must commit themselves to a negotiated solution to the conflict.

This offers the best chance to end the suffering of the Afghan people and restore peace to Afghanistan and stability to the region.

We hope the search for peace through a dialogue process will assume the highest priority for the Afghan Government, for the Taliban, for the Coalition forces, for Afghanistan’s neighbors and for the international community.

I thank you Mr. President.