Saturday, June 22

Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the Security Council’s UNAMA Briefing on Afghanistan

Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the Security Council’s UNAMA Briefing on Afghanistan

Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the Security Council’s UNAMA Briefing on Afghanistan

I thank you Mr. President,

Mr. President,

I would like to congratulate you, and the Ecuadorian delegation on your successful presidency of the Security Council this month.

2. Pakistan welcomes this debate on Afghanistan. I would like to thank Special Representative Roza Otunbayeva for her cogent briefing to the Council. We note the Secretary-General’s report on the latest developments in Afghanistan.

3. Pakistan conveys its appreciation to UN Special Coordinator, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, for his work on the independent assessment report. We also commend the leadership role of Ambassador Nusseibeh and the UAE delegation as the co-penholder on Afghanistan this year.

Mr. President,

4. Peace in Afghanistan is a strategic imperative for Pakistan. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, the Afghan interim authorities have further consolidated their control of Afghanistan across all spheres of governance and bought some modicum of stability in the country.

5. Yet, Afghanistan presents a complex and enduring challenge. On the positive side, law and order has improved, opium cultivation has reduced by 95%, action against Daesh is being taken, corruption has declined notably and efforts are being made to operate the economy through domestic revenue collection and local budgets. Afghanistan’s trade with its neighbours, including transit trade has also increased significantly.

6. But, Mr. President, there are serious challenges. Pakistan has been the main artery for the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Yet the humanitarian response plan which aims to help 21.3 million Afghans remains severely underfunded at 35%. We hope that the donor states will respond generously to the Secretary-General’s appeal to help the destitute people in Afghanistan.

Second, the Afghan economy remains fragile, largely due to liquidity challenges, a dysfunctional banking system and irregular cash flows with no safeguard against terrorists financing. Smuggling into Pakistan through transit trade has also been a major problem which we have stopped now. Pakistan supports early implementation of reconstruction and the regional connectivity projects in Afghanistan.

Third, while opium cultivation has been reduced by 95%, there is an urgent need to provide support for alternative crop production to sustain farmers’ livelihoods and prevent a reversal of the gains that have been made and yet Mr. President, the two issues which the Afghan Interim Government must implement its obligations on are:

One, the restrictions that have been placed on women and girls right to education and work these edicts must be reversed. Some pragmatic solutions are possible. Pakistan will continue to work to develop such possible solutions.

Two, the continued presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan constitute the most significant threat to Afghanistan and to the entire region and perhaps the world. While the interim authorities have reported some success in the fight against Da’esh, the fact is that a number of terrorist groups are living in Afghanistan, evidently under the protection of the Afghan Interim Government.

7. Pakistan, in particular, faces a major threat from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP and its affiliates have been responsible for carrying out a series of organized cross-border terrorist attacks on our soil causing considerable loss of our civilians and soldiers and causing considerable damage to our military and other installations.

8. We have lost hundreds of our brave soldiers and civilians in these attacks just this year alone and last week, TTP affiliated group carried out a heinous attack on our security personnel in Dera Ismail Khan, resulting in the loss of more than 23 precious lives. These attacks have become more lethal and sophisticated, since the TTP terrorists have acquired and use advanced military equipment. These weapons obviously originate from the considerable stocks left behind by foreign forces. Yet, the question is: how did the TTP – a listed terrorist organization –secure these weapons. Pakistan demands that the United Nations – whether UNAMA or another agency – conduct a thorough investigation to elicit how these weapons got in the hands of the TTP and to identify ways of retrieving them.

9. It is clear that the TTP has been given free rein to conduct cross-border attacks against Pakistan’s border outposts and other installations. We also have clear evidence that the TTP receives support from our main adversary.

Mr. President,

11. The Security Council should invigorate the work of the 1988 Committee to secure action by the Afghan Interim Government against all these terrorist groups in Afghanistan and empower the monitoring team to analyze and inform the Committee and this Council about progress made in the context of counter terrorism in Afghanistan.

10. Any process of engagement with the Afghan Interim Government should be conducted on the basis of the action that it takes against these terrorist organizations. Else, we will see the recurrence and proliferation of terrorism from Afghanistan as happened prior to 9/11, threatening not only the region but the entire world.

Mr. President,

11. Pakistan has indeed paid an enormous price for its 40 years of generosity towards Afghanistan. After 40 years, we continue to host 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees with little or no support from the international community. Since the Afghan Interim Government claims that peace has been restored in Afghanistan, it should work with the High Commission of Refugees to make preparations for the early repatriation of these Afghan refugees. There were another 2.2 million Afghans who are in Pakistan undocumented and illegally present there. These include 700,000 who crossed into Pakistan after the Taliban takeover.

12. Besides the security threat posed by terrorist ‘sleeper cells’, many of these illegals are involved in drug trafficking, operate property mafias and other crimes and the inflow of such large numbers has had a negative impact on Pakistan’s economy and jobs market.

13. The current plan to repatriate illegal foreigners is an unavoidable compulsion on Pakistan arising from a legitimate security, economic and social concerns.

18. However, the plan is being implemented in as humane way as possible. There is no forcible return, except for a number of Afghan criminals in our jails. More than 98% of the over 244,000 Afghan who departed through Torkham last month, were voluntary returns. The Chamman crossing has a similar pattern.

14. We have made exceptions for those who have proof of registration (PoRs); for those who have the Afghan citizenship card and now also for those who are considered vulnerable. These are besides the 60,000 or more who are waiting for two years to be relocated to 3rd countries and we urge those 3rd countries to accelerate their process in order to receive these people who they have agreed to receive as such and lightened the burden on Pakistan.

Mr. President,

15. We hope that Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu’s assessment will enable the Security Council and all relevant stakeholders in the international community to adopt a comprehensive, long-term and realistic roadmap for Afghanistan’s normalization. Any process of engagement with the Afghan Interim Government must be constituted on the basis its response to the core concerns of the international community; respect for human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls; political inclusivity; and action to neutralize the terrorist organizations in Afghanistan not only Daesh, but also the TTP and other entities which threaten the security of Afghanistan’s neighbours.

16. Pakistan will participate in the Secretary-General’s revived Doha format and we hope that consensus will be reached on the recommendations of the report submitted by the Special Coordinator.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Editor: Raja Kamran