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Statement by External Affairs Minister at the UNSC Debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (June 22, 2021)

June 22, 2021

Madam President,

I would like to thank you for organizing this timely debate on Afghanistan. I particularly recognize in our presence my Afghan colleague Mr. Haneef Atmar and like all of you I have listened to his remarks with great attention. I would also like to thank our briefers today, Special Representative Deborah Lyons, Executive Director Ghada Fathy Ismail Waly as well as Executive Director Mary Akrami.

Madam President,

2. We have noted the report of the Secretary General on the situation in Afghanistan issued last week. The report is clear that the intra-Afghan talks have not resulted in a reduction of violence in Afghanistan. On the contrary, violence has only increased, especially after 1st May. The country has been witnessing targeted attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, girl students, Afghan security forces, Ulemas, women occupying positions of responsibility, journalists, civil rights activists and youth.

3. It is therefore crucial that the international community and, in particular, this Council presses for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to ensure immediate reduction in violence and protection of civilian lives.

Madam President,

4. A durable peace in Afghanistan requires a genuine "double peace”. That is, peace within Afghanistan and peace around Afghanistan. It requires harmonizing the interests of all, both within and around that country.

5. India has been supportive of all the efforts being made to accelerate the dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, including the intra-Afghan negotiations. If the peace process is to be successful, then it is necessary to ensure that the negotiating parties continue to engage in good faith, eschew the path to find a military solution, and fully commit towards reaching a political solution. A tangible demonstration of this commitment is required.

6. India welcomes any move towards a genuine political settlement and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan. We support a leading role for the United Nations, since that would help improve the odds for a lasting and durable outcome.

7. I would like to reiterate our support for an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process. Any political settlement in Afghanistan must ensure that the gains of the last two decades are protected, and not reversed. It should, therefore, preserve the constitutional democratic framework and ensure the protection of rights of women, children and minorities.

Madam President,

8. For enduring peace in Afghanistan, terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries must be dismantled immediately and terrorist supply chains disrupted. There needs to be zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including its cross-border one. It is equally important to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country. Those providing material and financial support to terrorist entities must be held accountable. We, as international community, must ensure that our commitments to Afghanistan, including to its various institutions are maintained.

9. For Afghanistan’s economic development, it is important to have unhindered access to the high seas. The international community should work towards the removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan and ensure full transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements without any hindrance.

Madam President,

10. India remains committed to steadfastly supporting Afghanistan during this transition. Our development partnership, including more than 550 Community Development Projects covering all 34 provinces, is aimed at making Afghanistan a self-sustaining nation. Additionally, we have just recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Afghanistan for building the Shatoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to the residents of Kabul city.

11. To provide greater regional connectivity, India has operationalized air freight corridors and the Chabahar Port. India also extended humanitarian assistance of 75,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port to overcome food insecurity in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

12. Further, as a part of our endeavour to help Afghanistan tide over the COVID-19 pandemic, we have supplied Made-in-India vaccines to Afghanistan, both bilaterally and through the COVAX facility.

13. India continues to stand with Afghanistan in ensuring restoration of normalcy through a legitimate democratic process that is essential for the long-term stability of Afghanistan and the region. India will continue to provide all support to the Government and people of Afghanistan in realizing their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future, free of terror, so as to protect and promote the rights and interests of all sections of Afghan society.

I thank you Madam President.

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