The United Nations Security Council was briefed regarding the latest upheavals in Afghanistan by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom.
Haysom said Afghanistan has taken positive steps to overcome five key challenges for the survival of the unity government in 2016.
Recalling his statement to UNSC in March, Haysom said Afghanistan had to tackle a potent conflation of political, economic and security challenges and two additional challenges, including that of securing medium-term financial and military assistance from the international community and making headway in laying the foundation for an effective peace process.
Haysom had warned failure to overcome any of these distinct hurdles could have a significant consequence for the country.
According to Haysom, progress in economic front has been noted in revenue collection, in meeting IMF benchmarks and in developing thoughtful medium-term plans for reform and for economic development under difficult conditions.
Haysom further added that there has also been distinct progress in the management of public finances.
He noted the milestones reached in some of the ambitious projects developed in collaboration with other countries in the region, including the inauguration of the Salma hydroelectric dam, the CASA 1000 electricity project and a trilateral economic agreement between Afghanistan, India and Iran.
On the security front, Haysom said the Afghan security forces continue to face serious challenges, including in addressing questions of morale, leadership, attrition and logistics. For now, though, they are holding their ground.
However, he welcomed the approval of Intelligence Chief and Defense Minister nominees by the lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament this week.
Haysom expressed concerns regarding the growing violence in the country nd said he is “deeply concerned about the impact that the high level of violence is having on the civilian population. There has been no let-up during Ramadan, during which period there have been some reports of disturbing brutality, including attacks on worshippers. Only yesterday, an incident – in Badakhshan – caused the death of 10 civilians, among them several children. Civilian casualty levels remain high and conflict-related displacement continues. I am especially concerned about the trend of targeted attacks on civilians working in the judicial sector, and on journalists.”
He also added that the revival of peace process with the militant groups seems unlikely in the short term, noting failure so far of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group to midwife such a process, and the recent death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
On the political front, Haysom said “slow progress in advancing electoral reforms and setting an election calendar is one indicator of the need for greater political cohesion, a need for an appreciation by a fragmented political class of their shared destiny. On 13 June, the Wolesi Jirga voted against the draft Structure Law, necessitating further review and discussions. The 17th of June, the latest date as per constitutional requirements to announce the electoral calendar for the promised elections on the 15th of October, has come and gone, and there still appears to be no agreement on the way forward.”
Haysom warned that continued uncertainty about the electoral calendar will contribute to challenges to the legitimacy of both the National Unity Government and the Parliament, which has long overstepped its term of office. -KP
THE PASHTUN TIMES