Pakistan urges UN mission to keep good ties with Afghan authorities

Resolution indicates the int’l community & western donors will stay engaged with Afghanistan: Amb. Akram


UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan is reviewing the United Nations Security Council resolution that renewed the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year and also enhanced its role in the crisis-ridden country, according to a top Pakistani diplomat, who also underscored the need for the mission to maintain good relations with the Afghan authorities.

“We are carefully reviewing the final text of the resolution,” Ambassador Munir Akram told APP correspondent when asked for his reaction to the 15-member Council’s action.

The Norwegian-drafted resolution was adopted by a vote of 14-0, with Russia abstaining.

The resolution, which extends UNAMA’s mandate until March 17, 2023, does not mention the Taliban by name. But it does authorize the mission and the UN special representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, to carry out their work “in close consultation with all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders, including relevant authorities as needed.”

Pointing out that Russia abstained because the resolution does not contain a specific reference to the de facto government in Kabul, Ambassador Akram said, “In our view it will be very important for UNAMA to maintain a good working relationship with the Afghan authorities and to respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty.”

Indeed, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia criticized the Security Council for not consulting “the host country” on the UN presence, saying it is important for “more substantive cooperation” between UNAMA and the Taliban, which would help the UN achieve its objectives and guarantee security for UN personnel.

Under the terms of the resolution, UNAMA will focus on several key activities, including coordinating the provision of humanitarian assistance and the delivery of basic human needs; providing outreach and good offices for dialogue between Afghan stakeholders and the international community; and promoting good governance and the rule of law.

Other highlighted tasks included promoting human rights, supporting and promoting gender equality and monitoring, reporting and advocating with regard to the situation for civilians.

Ambassador Akram said that the resolution indicates that the international community and western donor countries will stay engaged with Afghanistan.

“Naturally the donors will want a larger role in monitoring assistance to Afghanistan and promoting their priorities– political inclusivity and human rights, especially the rights of women,” he said.

Ambassador Akram also said that a “notable reference” in the resolution was about the utilization of Afghanistan’s national reserves for the Afghan people.

It authorized UNAMA to facilitate access to assets of the country’s central bank, which have been frozen abroad to keep resources from the Taliban, who seized power last August. About $9.5 billion of those funds are in the United States.

Last month, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will keep half of that money frozen for potential lawsuits from families’ of 9/11 victims and facilitate access to the other $3.5 billion to assist the Afghan people.

The Security Council also expressed deep concern at “the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan” where the economy has been in a tailspin since the Taliban takeover. The UN mission’s mandate also includes coordination and delivery of desperately needed aid.

Lyons, the UN envoy, told the council in early March that the economy was heading toward “a point of irreversibility” and that the international community has not done enough to revive it. The United States said it is the responsibility of the Taliban rulers to create conditions for economic stability.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said over 20 million Afghans need urgent assistance. The United Kingdom, Qatar, Germany and the UN humanitarian office are co-hosting a pledging conference on March 31 to raise funds for the country’s growing humanitarian needs.

“Beyond the humanitarian crisis,” she said, “we are particularly concerned by reports of reprisals against former government officials, as well as attacks against minority groups and civil society” and detentions and enforced disappearances.

And although civilian casualties have dropped, “The Taliban need to demonstrate that extremist groups are no longer able to flourish in the country,” Ambassador Woodword said.

The US Deputy Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis stressed that UNAMA can now not only advocate for the empowerment of women and girls but “engage with them as vital partners in its work.”

“Afghanistan cannot prosper if half the population is denied access to education or is not permitted to work,” the US envoy said. “The United States is closely watching the Taliban’s actions.”

DeLaurentis said the US, as Afghanistan’s single largest humanitarian donor, is committed to UNAMA’s work to facilitate the delivery of aid and continues “to support measures to help address the enormous challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy.”

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