United Nations, June 23:
Within hours after terrorist suicide bombers attacked Afghanistan’s parliament on Monday, India asked the international community to reconsider pulling troops from there because of the worsening security situation.
Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told the Security Council: “Given the critical phase that the political transition has entered, and the deteriorating security situation, we feel there is a strong case for the international community to take a fresh look at the manner in which the drawdown of the international military presence in Afghanistan is being planned out.”
He cited the latest report on Afghanistan by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which said that armed clashes have increased by 45 percent compared to last year and 71 percent of the violence has been concentrated in the southern, south-eastern and eastern regions.
These statistics “only reinforces our view that terrorism, and not tribal differences or ethnic rivalries is the main source of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan,” he said.
The NATO-led coalition, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which had 140,000 troops at the height of the deployment, formally ended its operations in Afghanistan at the end of last year and pulled out most its personnel.
Only about 12,000 troops have been left behind in a non-combat role to advise and continue training the Afghan military in an operation named Resolute Support Mission.
Ban’s report also said that, according to Afghan government estimates, there are 7,180 foreign fighters in the country. “It is obvious that they could not have entered Afghanistan, or continue to sustain their terror attacks without support from beyond Afghanistan’s borders,” Mukerji said in a diplomatically couched reference to Pakistan which it did not name.
At the start of the Council debate on UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), its head Nicholas Haysom also referred to the role of the foreign fighters and expressed concern that Islamic State (IS) was trying to establish a foothold in the troubled nation.
Haysom called for greater regional involvement and collaboration to meet the threat from these forces.
Turning to the tattered economy of Afghanistan, Mukerji said that nation could be the “natural land bridge” connecting the economies of Central Asia and South Asia.
To enhance Kabul’s role India has taken three steps, he said: “We have indicated our willingness to join the an expanded PATTTA (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Trade and Transit Agreement), we are working with the government of Iran to see how the Chahbahar Port in Iran can be used to provide Afghanistan with an alternate access to the sea route, and have unilaterally offered Afghanistan access to the facilities of the Integrated Check Post at Attari on the Wagah-Attari border crossing point on the India-Pakistan international border.” (IANS)