UNAMA’s mandate must focus on revival of the Afghan economy: Pakistan

Ukraine crisis: All efforts must be made to avoid further escalation of violence and loss of life

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New York: The new mandate for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) must be based on respect for the war-torn country’s sovereignty and conducted with the consent of the Afghan government — recognized or not — to promote stability and improve people’s lives, Pakistan told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

“Any effort to create a parallel governance structure to the actual government is likely to be unacceptable and will erode the trust and cooperation which exists presently between UNAMA and the authorities in Kabul,” warned Ambassador Munir Akram warned, ahead of the 15-member body’s review of the Mission’s mandate.

Earlier, the top UN envoy in Kabul also urged the international community to begin engaging more substantively with the de facto Taliban authorities, citing economic challenges that have left Afghanistan on the brink of “irreversible” ruin.

Briefing the Security Council, Deborah Lyons, the Head of UNAMA, recalled that, when the Mission’s mandate was rolled over for six months in September 2021, it was still too early for the international community to react to the Taliban’s seizure of power. It was now clear, however, that it will be impossible to truly assist Afghanistan’s people without working with the de facto authorities.

In his remarks, Ambassador Akram said UNAMA’s new mandate must focus on humanitarian and emergency assistance; revival of the Afghan economy; building the capacity of Afghan institutions; and facilitating the reconstruction and connectivity projects.

“Political objectives, such as promoting “inclusive” governance is the sole purview of Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities,” he said, pointing out that the six neighbours’ platform has also helped to move the process in that direction.

At the same time, the Pakistani envoy stressed that, after four decades, there is now a chance to promote durable peace in Afghanistan as one government controls the entire country and there is no existential threat to its survival.

The international community must work to stabilize the country and ensure durable peace in the region by addressing the massive humanitarian crisis and preventing the collapse of the Afghan economy, he said.

Expressing hope that recent crises — obviously meaning the conflict in Ukraine — will not lead to abandoning Afghanistan — a mistake made twice in the last 40 years with devastating consequences — the Pakistani envoy welcomed United Nations-led efforts to inject cash into the banking system.

Further, all of Afghanistan’s financial reserves must be released; it is regrettable that half of these are proposed to be sequestered by another country, Ambassador Akram said.

Beyond humanitarian help, the Pakistani envoy said stabilizing Afghanistan requires reconstruction – to rebuild damaged infrastructure and implement the connectivity projects, such as the TAPI, CASA and the Central Asia-Afghanistan-Pakistan railroads, as well as the envisaged extension of CPEC to Afghanistan.

UNAMA is engaging constructively with the new authorities in Kabul, he noted, hoping that it would continue to play this role.

Security remains a preeminent concern for Afghans and for their neighbours, he said, adding, “There are still some who wish to continue using Afghan territory to promote terrorism, including against regional countries, especially against Pakistan.”

He called on the international community to encourage and support the efforts of the Afghan authorities to eliminate Daesh (IS-K), and address the threats posed by other terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan will continue to work with the Afghan authorities and with regional and other interested countries to promote the common objectives of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the region,” Ambassador Akram added.

Pakistan is committed to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter: self-determination of peoples, non-use or threat of use of force, sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, and pacific settlement of disputes. Equally, Pakistan upholds the principle of equal and indivisible security for all. These principles must be consistently and universally respected.

Pakistan remains deeply concerned at the recent turn of events. This reflects a failure of diplomacy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine, and said that Pakistan had hoped that diplomacy could avert military conflict.

We have since repeatedly stressed the need for de-escalation, renewed negotiations, sustained dialogue, and continuous diplomacy.

All efforts must be made to avoid further escalation of violence and loss of life as well as military, political and economic tensions which can pose an unprecedented threat to international peace and security and global economic stability. As consistently underlined by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the developing countries are hit the hardest economically by conflict anywhere.

We hope the talks initiated between representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine will succeed in bringing about a cessation of hostilities and normalization of the situation. A diplomatic solution in accordance with relevant multilateral agreements, international law, and the provisions of the UN Charter is indispensable.

Pakistan also supports all efforts to provide humanitarian relief to civilians in the affected areas.

The Government of Pakistan is most concerned about the safety and welfare of Pakistani citizens and students in Ukraine. The majority of them have been evacuated. Those who remain will be evacuated soonest. We appreciate the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities as well as the Polish, Romanian and Hungarian governments in this context.

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