STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICY & STRATEGY OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF AFGHANISTAN
M. ASHRAF HAIDARI, AT THE SIX-PARTY MEETING ON AFGHANISTAN
Moscow – Russia February 15, 2017
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
His Excellency Igor Morgulov,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, we thank all the participants around this table for joining us, as part of ongoing regional efforts to reach results-oriented consensus in support of our quest for attaining lasting, meaningful peace in Afghanistan, and to strengthen our regional efforts against terrorism—a common enemy that threatens our region and the global community. In addition, we welcome any genuine efforts by our immediate and near neighbors, which help put an end to years of imposed war and violence in Afghanistan that daily claim innocent Afghan lives in our cities and villages. Indeed, success in this endeavor will not only stabilize Afghanistan but will also ensure regional security as a precondition for enabling us to address the ever-growing economic needs and demands of our nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Unity Government (NUG) is the legitimate, elected Government of Afghanistan—representing all Afghans with equal rights under our progressive Constitution. Our Government enjoys the support of the Afghan people, who remain a strategic asset in the fight against terrorism and extremism. That is why the Taliban lack the national and moral legitimacy to represent the Afghan people, who reject terrorism perpetrated by the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allied networks in the name of Islam—a religion of peace, tolerance, and co-existence.
The Government of Afghanistan firmly believes in peace and has made every effort to reach reconciliation with those armed groups, which have demonstrated a genuine willingness to renounce violence, cut ties with terrorist networks, and opt for peace through a results-driven dialogue. In this regard, we recently reached a successful political settlement with Hezb-e-Islami, through an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation process, which took place in Kabul.
Encouraged by the hard peace efforts of our Government and the progress we have made thus far, 650,000 Afghan refugees previously in Pakistan have returned to Afghanistan over the past year. This gives us authentic hope in our ongoing pursuit of peace, which is the desire of every Afghan in and outside of our country.
Indeed, this is a clear example of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and how we can proceed ahead. We extend our sincere appreciation to the United Nations (UN) Security Council members and the Sanctions Committee for removing Mr. GulbuddinHekmatyar from the Sanctions List and to the Russian Federation for their support in this regard.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The conflict in Afghanistan is not a civil war. Twenty of the UN recognized terrorist groups— with fighters from many countries including those in our region—are active in our country. Sadly, we remain the regional and global battleground in the fight against terrorism, as the said terrorist groups operate in tandem with one another and together or separately they strive to create safe havens in Afghanistan—from where to launch regional and global terrorist attacks.
As we all know, terrorism and criminality are inter-twined and fed by an illicit economy that further destabilizes Afghanistan and undermines regional security. Moreover, the availability of safe sanctuaries and institutional support for violent extremism in our immediate neighborhood helps sustain a deadly and destructive war in Afghanistan. Without such a supportive infrastructure, the conflict in our country wouldn’t last.
Even so, however, we actively participated in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meetings, hoping that the process would deliver on the commitments made by different countries. Indeed, the success of the QCG process squarely hinged on a set of clearly defined and agreed-upon benchmarks, which were not met. This increasingly showed that the key challenge to the process remained a policy selectivity by some to distinguish between good and bad terrorists, even though terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’ counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Five key dynamics underpin the situation in Afghanistan today. First, the international community continues to support our country’s stabilization and sustainable development. The United States leads international aid efforts, for which we thank the American Government and people. We are particularly grateful for a successful military transition from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Moreover, we appreciate the commitments made by different countries at the Warsaw Summit last July to support the Resolute Support Mission, which helps train and equip our forces in defense of Afghanistan. Equally important were the commitments made by many nations—including our Western and regional allies as well as Japan—at the Brussels Conference last October to continue supporting reconstruction and development efforts in our country.
Second, we attach immense importance to our relations with the Muslim world, and appreciate the sincere support we have received from some of the Muslim states. The fatwa issued in 2015 by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia against all acts of terrorism, which violate the core tenets of Islam, and the communiqué issued in the same year by the Muslim World League Global Conference on Islam and Counter Terrorism in Makkah Al Mukarama, have effectively begun countering the un-Islamic narrative of extremists.
Third, we consider ourselves as the heart of a rising Asia where terrorism remains a common threat to the security of the entire region, including: India, China, Russia, Iran, Central Asia, and others. In this connection, we have recently captured a number of foreign terrorists, including a Kazakh considered to be one of the region’s most dangerous terrorists. He now talks about how global and regional networks recruit young men and women from our countries and indoctrinate them into becoming ruthless killers of our own people.
That is why we strongly believe that unless we join hands in a common counter-terrorism strategy against our common enemy, the principal security threat in Asia wouldn’t be defeated. In this regard, we take the opportunity to thank our partners—
India, China, Russia, Turkey and all Central Asian States—for their continued support of our joint efforts. We also appreciate our constructive dialogue with Iran on our common national security interests.
The fourth and fifth dynamics involve our neighborhood and internal affairs. A lack of sincere regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism remains the biggest challenge. Our region must reach a consensus on how best to effect change in the behavior of certain state actors—who should prioritize peace against a self-defeating zero-sum mentality and to accept Afghanistan as a point of collaboration over confrontation. Our region possesses immense natural and human resources, which must be harnessed through regional cooperation for the shared progress and sustainable development of all of us.
That is why we must realize that terrorism is not a short-term threat. It is a long-term threat to the peace and prosperity of the region and the whole world. This requires that we come together and summon up the collective resolve needed to address it. In this context, we should deliver a clear, unified message to the Taliban: That we all want peace and pursue it unrelentingly to the end; That the Taliban will not have anybody’s support in pursuit of their terrorist and murderous campaign; and That all of us want them to renounce violence, cut ties with regional and global terrorist networks, and embrace the opportunity for peace talks.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, we would like to thank the Russian Federation for hosting us today. Please note that we consider this meeting complementary to the ongoing peace efforts and processes, and not as a substitute. We will continue our efforts for peace, while keeping channels of communication open with those that seek genuine and lasting peace.
Indeed, the United States is one of our most important partners, and has an essential role to play in all these and other processes that should end war and usher in sustainable peace in Afghanistan.