NEW YORK – The deadly truck bomb attack of 31 May in Kabul and the cycle of violence that ensued should serve as a “clarifying moment” for vital decisions to be taken to shore up Afghanistan’s stability or for the country to possibly face far worse, said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan at United Nations headquarters today.
“The months since my last briefing have been unusually tense in Afghanistan,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) “Without enhanced efforts by the National Unity Government to increase political inclusiveness, strengthen accountability, and improve the Government’s credibility, particularly in the security sector, we are likely to face more crises in an increasingly fragile environment.”
All parties must exercise restraint and avoid violence, the UN envoy stressed to the Security Council during the debate on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Afghanistan.
While spotlighting the delicate security and political challenges, Yamamoto praised the Afghan government for its willingness to take positive steps toward peace. In particular, he noted the 6 June ‘Kabul Process’ meeting on regional peace and security, as well as the implementation of the political agreement with former insurgent group Hezbi-i Islami (Gulbuddin).
The UN envoy described how, following the 31 May terrorist attack in Kabul, political fault-lines emerged increasingly along an ethnic basis. He characterized those fault-lines as “particularly worrying” at a time when the Islamic State is attempting to provoke sectarian strife through attacks against Shia Muslims.
“We are grateful for the subsequent expressions from the government and political leaders outside the government that UNAMA’s efforts contributed to calming the situation,” he said, noting that he remains concerned that without changes in governance practices, there are likely to be future crises that might be more difficult to contain.
Addressing the root of the issues, the UN envoy said that there have been indications since last summer that Afghanistan’s political consensus has been fraying. In recent months, he said, a growing number of political factions have begun to define themselves in opposition to the government.
“Each side accuses the other of acting against the national interest,” he said, stressing that efforts at inclusiveness and building consensus for political stability are critical.
In the context of these realities, UNAMA’s chief spoke positively about the government’s will to move forward on the 6 June ‘Kabul Process’ meeting, which outlined the Afghan vision for peace.
“Achieving this vision will require the strong determination of all states concerned, particularly of the region,” said the UN envoy, noting that the government requested the international community to address this issue in all its facets. “The proof of our commitment will be a stable Afghanistan.”
In the current context, said the UN envoy, there are two areas that require immediate attention: elections and peace.
Preparations must now be accelerated, he stressed, to prepare for the next round of elections. “We understand that the Independent Elections Commission will make an announcement as early as tomorrow regarding the date for parliamentary elections,” he said. “I believe that this announcement will contribute to allaying the political tensions I have referred to.”
And on the issue of peace, he noted that a genuine peace process with the Taliban is essential and urgent. “I encourage the people of Afghanistan to begin an internal dialogue on the meaning of peace and reconciliation,” he said, stressing that the government and the Taliban must engage directly with each other to define a political solution.
The UN envoy noted he was honoured to welcome the Secretary-General to Afghanistan last week. “His visit clearly demonstrated his and this Organization’s commitment to Afghanistan, solidarity with its people, and perseverance in the pursuit of peace,” he said, adding that on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid, unity and restraint are crucial so that families and communities can enjoy a peaceful end of Ramadan.
Read the briefing by Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto to the Security Council.
Read the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security.