Invoking the Amritsar Heart of Asia declaration, Afghanistan has reiterated the call for an international set-up to verify cross-frontier terrorism and expose government organisations that promote terrorism….writes Arul Louis
“Verification of nefarious activities would present our neighbour hard evidence to undercut their ‘plausible deniability’ and blame games, and shift the focus to where it should be, a unified response to countering terrorism,” said Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Mahmoud Saikal at the United Nations Security Council on Monday in a speech laced with criticism of Pakistan’s role in terrorism.
Saikal said the Heart of Asia meeting in Amritsar, India, on December 4 “acknowledged the support that terrorism derives in our region” and called for “dismantling of regional terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens”.
Saikal added that, during the Amritsar meeting, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani “proposed an Asian and international mechanism to verify cross-frontier activities and terrorist operations”.
The Afghan envoy chastised the international community for its failure to tackle terrorism. “Scattered, fragmented and slow counter-terrorism measures have been exploited by terrorists to manoeuvre, spread violence, and create discord among people,” he said.
In a direct criticism of Islamabad, Saikal said it provided a winter haven for the Taliban while reviving the seasonal idea of peace talks.
“Winter is about to start in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that “most Taliban men return to the warmth of madrasas in Pakistan for rest and recuperation and to refuel for the next fighting season.”
He added: “Thus their seasonality and tactical use of war and peace continues, leaving little room for genuine peace efforts.”
The UN should strictly enforce counter-terrorism resolutions against Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and “those who use state apparatus in nurturing them”, Saikal said.
The envoy called for UN measures to “target the drivers of such policies within state structures”.
On positive regional cooperation, Saikal spoke about the Afghanistan-India air corridor agreed to in December by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ghani.
It circumvents Pakistan’s refusal to permit land trade between the two countries. It is “reviving centuries-old trade routes that will help revitalize regional economy”, he said.