General Assembly Security Council

Madam President
    From the start of this year there has been an increased focus of the Security Council on issues relating to Afghanistan. The Council members visit to Afghanistan; the ministerial debate on Afghanistan and regional connectivity; and the enhanced focus by the chair of the 1988 sanctions committee on the situation in the country - all bode well for the attention that the worsening situation in Afghanistan necessitates. 

2.    Thank you, Madam President, for following this welcome trend and organizing today’s debate. We thank Special Representative of the Secretary General Ambassador Yamamoto for sharing his insights on the prospects for peace ahead of us in 2018. We also appreciate the eloquent portrayals of the strides made by Afghan women and what more needs to be done in this regard.
Madam President
3.    The report of the Secretary General has highlighted what we feared. 2017, was perhaps one of the worst years, in terms of civilian causalities and security incidents in Afghanistan.  Thousands of innocent and precious Afghan lives fell prey to mindless violence.

4.    It is in this context, we welcome the adoption of resolution 2405 (2018), extending the mandate of UNAMA as an affirmation of the collective objective of support for the Afghan people. The brave Afghan people must not lose hope and we, the international community, must not lose heart.

5.    We specifically welcome the Council’s focus on linkages between extremism, terrorism, drug production and illegal exploitation of natural resources of Afghanistan.  The increase in the cultivation of poppy in the areas under the control of the Taliban and the Taliban’s involvement in virtually all aspects of the opium trade suggest that it is akin to a drug cartel.  We hope that the Council will better utilize the range of tools available to it to deal with these trans-national networks of drugs, terrorism and crime. 
Madam President

6.    Despite the international community efforts, those supporting the terrorists affecting Afghanistan have not been deterred. There are still those who provide sanctuaries to support the dark agendas of terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, LeT and JeM.  Indeed the challenges posed by cross border terrorism emanating from safe havens and sanctuaries to Afghanistan and to our region must be addressed.  

Madam President
7.    Today being the ‘International Women’s Day’ we join in acknowledging that women are perhaps the worst affected by the protracted conflict and violence in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the continuing conflict situation, Afghanistan has come a long way since the days of the Taliban who had reduced women to less than second class citizens under a despotic regime. 

8.    Women in the country are no longer imprisoned in their homes and are making progress in all sectors - from technology to athletics and from transportation to civil service. As we heard earlier, they are committed to continuing their struggles in order to play a significant role in building a progressive and stable society. Afghan women have achieved a lot in the near two decades and we must not allow these gains to be lost and wasted. 

Madam President
9.    India has invested over US$ 2 billion in Afghanistan since 2002 in reconstruction and development of the country.  A strong focus of our work has been on nearly 550 High Impact Community Development Projects which run across areas such as education, health, agriculture and irrigation, power and energy etc.  All these have a direct bearing on the improvement of lives of all Afghans including girls and women specially so for projects in education and healthcare sectors.
10.    Indian women Non-Governmental Organisations have undertaken various activities in Afghanistan such as vocational training of Afghan women (in India) as well as establishing women vocational training centres in various provinces of Afghanistan.  They have been working for almost a decade with poor women workers and sending them for training of trainers in India. As of date, 150 women trainers have been trained in India out of the target of 200 till May 2018.  Besides over 3000 Afghan women have been trained in Kabul and other provinces in Afghanistan to help them to establish a women’s self-help organization in Kabul. During the last three years about 5000 Afghan female students have been trained under various higher education scholarship schemes. Moreover, several rural women from Afghanistan have been trained at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan in the field of solar electrification.
11.    We will continue our work on the ground to help the women and girls of Afghanistan become self reliant and capable of playing an effective part in the reconstruction of the country.
Madam President
12.    If we are to preserve the achievements of Afghan women and children as well as girls, the international community must continue to extend its full support to an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace and reconciliation process.

13.    The Afghan National Unity Government has recently once again issued a new call for peace and has proposed a concrete approach to the Taliban to join the mainstream. 

14.    The Afghan Government’s willingness for peace is despite the fact that armed groups have identified themselves and demonstrated to all of us that they are the irreconcilables. These efforts of the Afghan Government calling on the armed groups to cease violence and join the national peace and reconciliation process that would protect the rights of all Afghans, including women, children and the minorities deserve our full support. However, it should also be clear to the armed opposition that there would be no tolerance for those who continue violence. Any violence needs a robust response. The irreconcilable guns need to be silenced. 
Madam President
15.    The indomitable courage of Afghan people, the spirit of the Afghan youth, and the strength of their dreams are a source of collective pride for our region. India is committed to continue its efforts to strengthen this spirit by supporting all initiatives designed to end violence and bring peace back.

    I thank you, Madam President