United Nations, Mar 23 (PTI) India said on Tuesday that an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan is the need of the hour and a 'basic prerequisite' for the success of the peace process, as it voiced deep concern at the rising use of violence as a 'tool for pressure tactics.' India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told the UN Security Council debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) that the Council had earlier this month strongly condemned the alarming number of attacks deliberately targeting civilians in Afghanistan and had expressed their deep concern about the threat posed by terrorism to Afghanistan and the region.
'These attacks are aimed at forcing the Afghan people to make pre-determined choices through coercion and spreading fear and intimidation within the society. As Afghanistan's immediate neighbour, we are deeply concerned at the rising use of violence as a tool for pressure tactics,' he said.
Tirumurti stressed that India believes that an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan is the need of the hour. 'This is not only in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, who have been the victims of unrelenting violence, but a basic prerequisite for the success of the peace process. It goes without saying that talks and violence cannot go hand in hand.' Noting that several Indian nationals, including diplomats, engineers and doctors, have sacrificed their lives for Afghanistan while on duty, Tirumurti said, 'We in India, therefore, have the highest stakes in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are ready to work with all stakeholders including regional countries towards that objective.' He further said that 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.' UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s latest Report on Afghanistan said that the security situation in the war-torn country worsened in 2020, during which the UN recorded 25,180 security-related incidents, a 10 per cent increase from the 22,832 incidents recorded in 2019. This is the highest on record since the United Nations started documenting incidents in 2007 and despite the start of the Afghanistan peace negotiations.
The report also notes that on January 13, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had visited Kabul and met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation and efforts to build a regional consensus in support of the Afghan peace process. 'Doval offered assurances of his country’s commitment to continuing cooperation and support for the Constitution of Afghanistan and democratic achievements,' the report said.
Tirumurti told the Council that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved in any constitutional framework that Afghanistan designs for itself. The rights of women, minorities and the vulnerable need to be protected, and respect for human rights and democracy needs to be ensured.
The Indian envoy underscored that for enduring peace in Afghanistan, terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries must be dismantled immediately and terrorist supply chains broken.
Asserting that there needs to be zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Tirumurti added that it is 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, without any double standards.' Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar is currently visiting India and met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar as the two held wide-ranging talks with a focus on the peace process in Afghanistan, which is making efforts to build regional and international consensus on the peace talks.
Atmar’s visit to India came days after Russia hosted a conference between Afghan government and the Taliban in Moscow, and pressed for a ceasefire in the war-ravaged country.
Tirumurti said Afghanistan is going through a critical phase and voiced concern that violence, unabated terror attacks and targeted assassinations have reached unprecedented levels.
He said targeted attacks on Afghan security forces, ulema, innocent students in schools and universities, women occupying positions of responsibility, journalists, civil rights activists, youth and minority communities “only serve to highlight the concerted effort by terrorists and their sponsors to erode the gains of the last two decades.' Tirumurti voiced India’s support for all efforts towards achieving sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. 'Such a process must be transparent, inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, fully respecting the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.' India has committed about three billion dollars towards development, reconstruction and capacity building in Afghanistan over the last 20 years. PTI YAS ZH ZH