UNGA urges global cooperation in countering Afghanistan's ongoing challenges (Afghanistan)

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 11 (APP): Expressing deep concern over the Taliban's encroaching influence around Afghanistan, the burgeoning narcotics trade and surging violence there, the UN General Assembly, in its debate on the situation in that war-torn country, recognized signs of progress and drew hope from the newly emerging Pak-Afghan ties.


Throughout the debate on Monday, which ended with the adoption of a wide-ranging resolution, delegates stressed that the Afghan people and their Government needed to direct the transformation of their country into a democratic and independent nation.

Speaking before the resolution was adopted, Afghanistan's Ambassador Zahir Tanin said he was hopeful about a new beginning with two of his country's
most important allies-Pakistan and the United States.

He said the election of Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, helped move towards collaboration that would hopefully lead to peace and security. In addition, Tanin said he looked forward to working with United States President-elect Barack Obama and appreciated the continuing support of the United States.

The resolution urged the international community to continue to back the troubled nation's long-term vision and show commitment that would supply stability not only for the country, but the wider region and the world.

The Assembly, as it had in previous years, acted without a vote and adopted the resolution that enveloped issues from the expanding drug trade and terrorist activities of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to the daily tragedies stemming from anti-personnel landmines and ongoing recruitment of children by terrorist groups.

The resolution welcomed the Declaration of the Paris Conference of 12 June 2008 and additional pledges of international support, as well as the launching of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. Yet, it noted that the Assembly remained deeply concerned that millions of anti-personnel landmines and explosive remnants remained a major obstacle to restarting the economy and reconstruction efforts.

The Assembly recognized the importance of holding free, fair and secure elections in 2009 and 2010 towards consolidating democracy for all Afghans, as identified in the Afghanistan Compact.

Turning to social issues, the Assembly strongly condemned incidents of discrimination and violence against women and girls, particularly if directed against women activists and women prominent in public life. Regarding children, the Assembly stressed the need to ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of children and expressed its concern about the ongoing recruitment and use of children by illegally armed and terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon spoke about the lack of security along the two nations shared border and said security was a joint
responsibility. Determined to play its role, Haroon said Pakistan had deployed 110,000 military personnel on its side of the border and had lost more soldiers than the combined losses of the international security forces in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan was committed to working with Afghanistan and noted the two neighbours' invigorated plan to strengthen their relationship and expand cooperation beyond security to political, military, intelligence, and economic areas.

American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad underscored the vital role that Afghanistan's neighbours played in securing its success, and said Pakistan's newly-elected Government created an opportunity for increased cooperation between the two countries.

To encourage Afghanistan's stability and development, he said it was crucial for regional cooperation to progress on several fronts, including by ensuring: no sanctuary for hostile forces; no use of extremists and terrorists to advance national interests; and the promotion of intelligence sharing.
Integrating Afghanistan into regional institutions and the regional economy also was important, Khalilzad added.

Von: 11.11.2008, www.app.com.pk

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