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Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across Durand Line: India at UN

PTI, Nov 21, 2020, 2:33 PM IST

New Delhi: In an apparent reference to Pakistan, India has told the United Nations that Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line, asserting that those providing sanctuary to terrorists must be held accountable and the Security Council should speak unequivocally against such forces.

The Durand Line is the 2,640-kilometre border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It is our view that the peace process and violence cannot go hand in hand, and we call for an immediate comprehensive ceasefire. For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line,” India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador TS Tirumurti said on Friday.

Speaking at the Arria Formula Meeting on ‘What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan,’ he said the report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the Al-Qaeda/Daesh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. For violence to end in Afghanistan, these terrorist supply chains must be broken, Tirumurti said.

“It is time that the Security Council speaks unequivocally against violence and terrorist forces and acts against terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens,” he said.

“Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line. Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan’s future or dictate the choices Afghans make. It is important to ensure that no one provides sanctuary to terrorists who threaten Afghanistan or any other country in the region. Those who do so must be held accountable,” he said, without naming any country.

Tirumurti noted that Afghanistan today is at a critical juncture and it is vital for the international community, especially the UNSC, to send the right message to everyone concerned.

He stressed that the overall objective of “our endeavour has been only to bring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, as that is critical for the peace and security of the whole region” and in order to achieve this, the UNSC needs to ensure that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

The Indian envoy further stressed that it is important to ensure that the issue of full transit rights to Afghanistan is not used by states to extract a political price from Afghanistan.

“The international community should discourage medieval mentalities and work towards the removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan. It should ensure all transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements operate without any hindrance. India remains committed to working with the international community towards achieving this shared objective,” he said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is a matter of concern. Restoration of normalcy in Afghanistan through a legitimate democratic process is essential for the long-term stability of Afghanistan and the region,” he said, noting that India will start its tenure in the UNSC from January next year, a crucial juncture for Afghanistan.

“We extend our assurance that India will continue to provide all support to the government and people of Afghanistan in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where the interest of all sections of Afghan society are protected. We will continue to support all opportunities that can bring durable peace, security and stability in the country.”

The Indian envoy said the international community “simply cannot” afford to lose the gains of the last two decades as the progress achieved so far is hard-won.

He stressed that India is convinced that the rights of women need to be strongly protected and gender mainstreaming and safeguards are integral to the future of Afghanistan.

Tirumurti said the recent targeted attacks on Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), universities, women occupying positions of responsibility and youth only serve to highlight the concerted effort by terrorists and their sponsors to erode the gains of the last two decades.

Terrorist attacks continue to target innocents and institutions of learning, he said adding that COVID-19 has hit Afghanistan in the midst of a difficult political transition and an intensifying conflict.

Tirumurti noted that India and Afghanistan are contiguous neighbours and are connected together by centuries of historical, people-to-people, and cultural relations.

He said since 2001, India has committed over USD 3 billion towards development, reconstruction, and capacity building in Afghanistan. “Major projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, the Afghan National Parliament building in Kabul, and the electricity supply grid between Kabul and northern Afghanistan stand testimony to the special place that Afghanistan occupies in our priorities.”

India’s developmental footprint is, today, spread across every one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and New Delhi has also prioritized Kabul in providing assistance to combat COVID.

“To tide over the artificial and political obstacles of non-permit of full transit rights to Afghanistan for their products to reach India and Indian products to reach Afghanistan, we operationalized air freight corridors that have seen more than 1000 flights. It is important for Afghanistan to have access to high seas,” Tirumurti said.

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