Afghanistan crisis: India expresses concern at UN meet; Guterres urged not to recognise Taliban government

Source: PTI | Published on 17th August 2021, 12:24 PM | Global News |

United Nations: India on Monday said that as a neighbour of Afghanistan, the current situation in the war-torn country is of "great concern" to it and hoped that there is an inclusive dispensation which represents all sections of the society, underling that a "broader representation" would help the arrangement gain more acceptability and legitimacy.

The UN Security Council, currently being presided over by India for the month of August, held a meeting for the second time in a period of 10 days to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

"In the short period of time, we have witnessed dramatic changes in the situation. We have also seen very unfortunate scenes at the Hamad Karzai International Airport in Kabul," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said.

Making a statement in his national capacity at the UNSC meeting, Tirumurti said "as a neighbour of Afghanistan, as a friend of its people, the current situation prevailing in the country is of great concern to us in India."

It is time for the international community, in particular the Security Council, to act and ensure an immediate cessation of violence and contain any possible crisis and mitigate its consequences, he said.

As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates even further, Tirumurti said Afghans are worried about whether their right to live with dignity would be respected.

"There are many unanswered questions. We hope that the situation stabilises soon and the parties concerned address the humanitarian and security issues."

"We also hope that there is an inclusive dispensation which represents all sections of Afghan society. Voices of Afghan women, aspirations of Afghan children and the rights of minorities must be respected. A broader representation would help the arrangement gain more acceptability and legitimacy," Tirumurti said.

Emphasising that the current situation in Afghanistan has numerous challenges, he said there are a few opportunities.

"If there is a zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and it is ensured that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country, then Afghanistan's neighbours and the region would feel safer," Tirumurti said, making a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan.

He noted that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also "underlined this unequivocally just now".

In his address to the Council, Guterres said that the international community must unite to make sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist organisations.

Tirumurti noted with concern that there is a widespread panic among the people and women and children are in distress in Afghanistan.

"Incidents of firing have been reported from the city including at the airport. While the security situation remains precarious, a grave humanitarian crisis is unfolding. We have heard urgent appeals from all quarters, including from the Secretary General."

"Afghanistan has already seen enough bloodshed in the past. It is time for the international community to come together unitedly, rising above any partisan interests, to support the people of Afghanistan in their desire for peace, stability and security in the country and to enable all Afghans, including women, children and minorities, to live in peace and dignity," the Indian envoy said.

He highlighted that India has contributed significantly in recent years to the development of the country.

In this context, Indian development projects has been undertaken in critical areas of power, water, road, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building.

"India's emphasis has been on the welfare and the wellbeing of the people of Afghanistan. Before the current crisis unfolded, India had ongoing development projects in every one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan," Tirumurti said, adding that there is a need to continue to support the robust work of the UN mission in Afghanistan and ensure their safety.

"We call upon the parties concerned to maintain law and order, ensure the safety and security of all concerned, including UN, diplomatic and consular personnel, and observe human rights and international humanitarian law in all circumstances in Afghanistan," he added.

The US told the UN Security Council that the international community should ensure that Afghanistan "cannot ever, ever" again be a base for terrorism and urged the country's neighbours and others in the region and beyond to give refuge to Afghans attempting to flee.

The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform Afghanistan.

The country's Western-trained security forces collapsed or fled, ahead of the planned withdrawal of the last American troops at the end of the month.

"Today I want to reiterate reemphasise and reassert this call, civilian populations including journalists and non-combatants, must be protected. Attacks against civilians or civilian objects must stop and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghan citizens, especially women, girls and members of minority groups must be respected," US Ambassador to the UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, held on Monday under India's current Presidency of the 15-nation body.

She said, "We also call on all parties to prevent terrorism and we must all ensure Afghanistan cannot ever, ever again be a base for terrorism."

The US envoy said that over this past weekend, members of the international community joined together to state unequivocally that every Afghan should be able to live in safety, security and dignity.

"We also called on all parties in Afghanistan to ensure safe departures and the protection of human life and property. We also call on the Taliban to permit humanitarian organisations to continue their valuable work in Afghanistan," she said.

She asserted that humanitarian personnel and agencies must have safe, unhindered access to provide life saving assistance to the increasing numbers of Afghans in need.

"We are deeply concerned that right now aid is not flowing to people in crisis," she said.

The US envoy emphasised that critically all "Afghan nationals" and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so safely.

"President Biden has made clear that any action that puts US personnel or our mission at risk will be met with a swift and strong military response. The United States promises to be generous in resettling Afghans in our own country, and I'm heartened by the pledges we've seen from other nations to do the same."

"We need to all do more and the time to step up is now. We urge Afghanistan's neighbours and others in the region and beyond to give refuge to, be temporary or permanent, to Afghans attempting to flee. And together we must do everything we can to help Afghans who wish to leave and seek refuge."

"The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them.

Asserting that there is "no time for blame game anymore", Afghanistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Ghulam Isaczai on Monday said that the powerful Security Council and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres must not recognise any administration that achieves power through force.

Isaczai, at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in war-torn Afghanistan, urged the UNSC to unequivocally state that it does not recognise the restoration of the Islamic Emirate.

"Today I'm speaking on behalf of millions of people in Afghanistan whose fate hangs in the balance and are faced with an extremely uncertain future," he said.

"There is no time for blame game anymore. We have an opportunity to prevent further violence, prevent Afghanistan descending into a civil war and becoming a pariah state.

"Therefore, the Security Council and the UN Secretary General should use every means at its disposal to call for an immediate cessation of violence and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law," Isaczai said.

He said the international community must call on the Taliban to fully respect the general amnesty offered by it, cease target killings and revenge attacks, and abide by the international humanitarian law, urge that no public institutions and service delivery infrastructure be demolished, including works of arts in museums and media institutions.

The global community must stress that anyone violating human rights of Africans and international humanitarian law will be held accountable, he said.

The UNSC and Guterres must stress that the “Council and the UN will not recognise any administration that achieves power through force or any government that is not inclusive and representative of its diversity of the country, unequivocally state that it does not recognise the restoration of the Islamic Emirate as reaffirmed in previous council statements and agreements, establish international guarantees for the implementation of a future political agreement”.

Stressing that he is speaking for millions of Afghan girls and women who are about to lose their freedom to go to school, to work and to participate in the political, economic and social life of the country, Isaczai called on the international community to urgently establish a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of those at risk of the Taliban's retributions and attacks.

The Council and the global community should call on "neighbouring countries of Afghanistan to open their borders and facilitate exit of people trying to escape and entry of goods for humanitarian relief and operations, call for the immediate establishment of an inclusive and representative transitional government that includes all ethnic groups and women representatives, which can lead to a dignified and lasting solution to the conflict, bring peace and preserve the gains of the last 20 years, especially for women and girls."

He said the situation in Kabul, a city of about 6-million people, is extremely worrying to say the least.

"You have seen chaotic scenes at the Kabul International Airport as desperate citizens are trying to leave the country. We are extremely concerned about the Taliban not honouring their promises and commitments made in their statements at Doha and at other international fora. We've witnessed time and again how the Taliban have broken their promises and commitments in the past."

"We have seen gruesome images of the Taliban's mass executions of military personnel and target killings of civilians in Kandahar and other big cities," the Afghan envoy said.

"We cannot allow this to happen in Kabul" which has been the last refuge for many people escaping violence and the Taliban's revenge attacks," Isaczai said, adding that Kabul residents are reporting the Taliban have already started house to house searches in some neighbourhoods, registering names and looking for people in their target list.

"There are already reports of target killings and looting in the city. Kabul residents are living in absolute fear right now," he said.

He also called for mobilising urgent humanitarian assistance for the 18 million people of Afghanistan, particularly those displaced by the current conflict.

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