19 September 2002 Security remains the most pressing concern in Afghanistan, the chief United Nations envoy to the country told the Security Council today, warning that chaos could return if the Government is unable to tackle the problem.
“The prestige and legitimacy of the Transitional Administration will depend on its ability to address effectively the most pressing security and recovery needs,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Should it fail, fragmentation will become more entrenched, extremism will rise, and then foreign countries, groups or individuals may be drawn once again into the fray, and the resumption of widespread violence will most likely ensue,” he warned.
The envoy reported widespread dissatisfaction that it had not been possible to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which currently operates only in and around the capital Kabul. At the same time, he cited “a growing realization that the efforts of the Afghans in the field of security need to be supported more directly.”
Mr. Brahimi drew attention to the proliferation of violence in the country over the past few months, noting that the UN had itself been the direct target of three separate terrorist attacks. Tensions had been calming in recent days, he added, with the two main rival factions in the north – Jamiat and Jumbesh – agreeing to establish a joint force to tackle violence. The situation in the southeast has also stabilized, and the UN had resumed its operations there.
On the subject of allegations of a mass grave near Dasht-e-Leily, he noted that following a mission to the area by UN human rights experts, the Transitional Administration and the Afghan Human Rights Commission had agreed that an investigation should now take place. Mr. Brahimi cautioned that “it will probably be possible to do the forensic part of the investigation [but] whether and when it will be possible to actually conclude the investigation is another matter.” Security, which was of paramount importance, could not be guaranteed at present.
At the same time, Mr. Brahimi pointed to signs of progress in Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai sought to modernize the country, build on its rich Islamic heritage, and promote justice, human rights and prosperity. “These are noble and worthwhile objectives, but President Karzai knows better than anyone else that Afghanistan will not achieve these goals without committed, sustained and generous support from the international community.”
Mr. Brahimi voiced hope that “donors have heard President Karzai’s urgent appeal,” calling attention to the need to fund job creation programmes, infrastructure development projects, education initiatives, and the creation of a new Afghan currency. “I hope that the international community will turn its undoubted commitment to Afghanistan into more forceful action,” he said.