Dear colleagues, dear participant ladies and gentleman, good morning.
It is a pleasure for me to participate in today’s annual session of field experts from UNOD’s terrorism prevention branch, to share with you our experiences from Afghanistan in dealing with counter-terrorism and the lessons we have drawn from this. Today, I will share with you the experiences drawn from Afghanistan, which is the prime victim of and an active partner against international terrorism as a global challenge. I will also talk about our successes, achievements, ongoing progress, remaining challenges and I will be happy to have an interactive discussion with you on this subject.
To begin with, I would like to express my gratitude to UNODC for the assistance it has given Afghanistan, and I appreciate the continued efforts and partnership of UNODC with Afghanistan in this field.
Terrorism and extremism did not exist in Afghanistan two decades ago, however during the period of war and inner turmoil in the country, terrorist organizations and radical elements moved to the country and Afghanistan, which was once a stable and peaceful nation, became a prime target and victim of terrorism, which had detrimental consequences for the country’s political and security institutions, society and economy.
Each and every day, Afghan men, women and children wake up with the fear that another brutal act of terror will occur, killing or maiming another family member or fellow citizen. Through suicide and roadside bombings, attacks on our clinics and schools, markets places and mosques, terror and violence continue to deprive the Afghan people from their rights for a peaceful life.
Dear participants ,
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 Afghanistan has come a long way, from being a lawless country, an epicenter of international terrorism and a source of regional instability. Afghanistan has begun re-building its national institutions, has established the foundations of democratic society and moved to a market economy, and has adopted a constitution that protects the rights of all its citizens, especially those of women and children.
These achievements were made through the unprecedented commitment of the international community, with the central coordinating role of the United Nations. Yet, many challenges remain – the greatest being to fight terrorism and to establish lasting peace across the whole country, and to free Afghans from decades of violence and conflict.
Afghanistan is firmly committed to defeating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and has, in this regard, spared no effort at the national, regional and international levels. Over the past 12 years since the fall of Taliban, together with our international partners, we have significantly weakened the overall capabilities of terrorist networks. As a result of our counter-terrorism efforts, a considerable number of terrorists have been curtailed in their brutal efforts, and captured, while others are being pursued. Our state institutions have thwarted a significant number of terrorist plots across the country. Consistent with the process of Transition, the Afghan national army and police today are assuming the primary role in all security activities across 90% of Afghanistan, including counter-terrorism operations.
Our counter-terrorism policies are a key part of our national security strategy. To that effect, we have further strengthened our counter-terrorism legal framework. Afghanistan is party to all international conventions, protocols and instruments concerning terrorism, and we have adopted a multitude of national laws to combat terrorism and other forms of organized crime. These include the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism; the Law on Combating Terrorist Offences; and the Law on Combating Money Laundering.
Afghanistan continues close collaboration with a wide range of relevant actors, comprising the counter-terrorism implementation task force. We encourage States which are using terrorism as a foreign policy instrument to desist from doing so and join the international community to fight this challenge. We would like the UNODC to further enhance its efforts in addressing terrorism.
We are working closely with the three counter-terrorism committees of the Security Council: the 1373, Committee’ the 1267 Committee and the 1540 Committee. In this regard, we have submitted relevant national reports on implementation, the most recent of which was our 2nd report to the 1540 Committee.
At the regional level, we are intensifying cooperation and dialogue with regional partners through bilateral, trilateral and multilateral regional processes to effectively deal with the problems of terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations. Most recently, during the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Almaty” Afghanistan and its regional partners reaffirmed their commitment to ensure peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and our region by implementing a broad set of confidence-building measures (CBM’s), which include counter-terrorism cooperation
A successful counter-terrorism strategy needs a comprehensive approach, including economic, security and political aspects. Such an approach requires sincere cooperation among all States, in particular in the region surrounding Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is now in an absolutely crucial phase. The process of transitioning security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces is reaching its final stages. As I speak, the security for over 90 percent of the Afghan population is led by Afghan Security Forces. Afghanistan’s national security forces amount to 350,000 soldiers, and they will do their best to defend Afghanistan against any internal and external threats. From our perspective, transition is the beginning of a new era of equitable partnership between a sovereign Afghanistan and its partners in the international community during the decade of transformation and beyond.
Alongside this security transition, the peace and reconciliation process is a national priority, based on the conviction that dialogue is the most practical means for ending the conflict that plagues our country. The government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. This includes all Afghans who are ready to renounce violence, denounce terrorism, accept the constitution, and respect human rights, especially those of women and children. “Without the active participation of Afghan women, which constitute more than 50% of Afghanistan’s population, there will not be a stable, just and prosperous Afghanistan”.
The upcoming 2014 presidential elections will be a milestone in Afghanistan’s democratization process, and the government is doing its upmost to guarantee a free and fair election, and ensure a successful transition to a decade of transformation, which is against the will of terrorist elements in our region.
We all must keep in our minds that Afghanistan as a traditional moderate society, that strongly stands against all forms of terrorism and extremism, urgently needs a peaceful life and the international community must remain committed in their support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Terrorist networks and ideological centers are not present in Afghan towns and villages, they operate primarily from their centers and sanctuaries based outside Afghanistan.
As a country that has been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of human and material loss. A significantly high number of Afghans, including civilians, tribal and religious figures, law-enforcement personnel and government officials have lost their lives as a result of terrorism. Nevertheless, such attacks will not deter our commitment to achieving lasting peace and security. We are firmly committed to making sure that the sacrifices made along the way will not go in vain. We, in Afghanistan, will remain as resolute as ever in our partnership with the international community to fight against terrorism, and secure a better life for our future generation.