COUNTRYWIDE SECURITY, CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL AID WILL AVERT RETURN OF CHAOS IN AFGHANISTAN, BRAHIMI TELLS COUNCIL

19 July 2002
SC/7458

COUNTRYWIDE SECURITY, CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL AID WILL AVERT RETURN OF CHAOS IN AFGHANISTAN, BRAHIMI TELLS COUNCIL

19/07/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7458

Security Council

4579th Meeting (AM & PM)

COUNTRYWIDE SECURITY, CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL AID WILL AVERT RETURN

OF CHAOS IN AFGHANISTAN, BRAHIMI TELLS COUNCIL

Diverging Views Expressed on Proposal

By Secretary-General to Extend Security Force Presence beyond Kabul

Despite numerous recent achievements in Afghanistan, countless challenges remained, foremost among them was security, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, told the Security Council today.

Briefing the Council on the situation in Afghanistan, he noted that, so far,the peace process was on track.  To be sure, it was a fragile peace, which must be handled with great care.  Among the few critical reasons for cautious optimism was the fact that Afghans were truly tired of fighting.  Also, while there were still many individuals and factions who sought power, no one had, so far, opted out of the peace process. 

Furthermore, the international community’s interest in Afghanistan had not waned and all the deadlines set out in the Bonn Agreement had been met, he said.  Perhaps the most significant was the timely convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, which, though not perfect, was a step forward in the peace process.

The most formidable of the countless remaining challenges and problems was security, he said.  Crucial to restoring security was the creation of a national army and police force, along with a strong demobilization programme, as well as the proposed reform of the National Directorate for Security and the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Most speakers in the ensuing debate agreed that the election by Afghans of their first leader after 23 years of conflict was a major achievement.  However, the newly established Afghan Transitional Administration, with President Hamid Karzai at its head, required support from the international community.  Among the country’s needs were reform of the security sector; safe refugee return; advancement of women; rebuilding of State institutions; economic development; mine clearance; and handling the continuing humanitarian crisis.  While building a new Afghanistan was primarily the responsibility of the country itself, speakers agreed that the Government would find it difficult to achieve its goals without international assistance.

Diverging views were expressed regarding the proposed extension of the authority of ISAF beyond Kabul.  The representative of Nepal cautioned that a

small oasis of security currently provided by the mission in Kabul “in a desert of insecurity” was untenable.  Once domestic military and police forces had been trained and deployed, security must become the responsibility of the Afghan Government itself.  Until local forces were ready to take their positions, however, the Council should mount a robust peacekeeping mission to work alongside ISAF.

Agreeing with the priority need to establish national army and police forces, France’s representative said that, while it was possible to discuss the merits and demerits of extending ISAF, the fact was that no country was ready to dispatch the requisite thousands of men to the provinces of Afghanistan.  To rein in the warlords, full support must be extended to President Karzai, and economic conditionalities and the military clout of the coalition must be used.

The representative of the Russian Federation said it was clear from the Secretary-General’s report that current conditions would not allow such an extension.  In that connection, creation of a national army was essential.  While important, foreign assistance to that end should be handled firmly, in accordance with the will of the international community as enshrined in relevant Security Council decisions.

The representative of Afghanistan said that although there was no urgent need to extend the Mission, it was important to look to the future.  For that reason, he suggested the possibility of extending the Force’s authority not to the whole territory of the country, but to several selected areas first.

The representative of Turkey, which on 20 June took over the command of ISAF from the United Kingdom, said that while national efforts were under way to train individual Afghan battalions, setting up of overall institutional structure and command-and-control arrangements for a new army were matters of great urgency.  The proposed expansion of the area of ISAF’s responsibility would call into question the existing conceptual approach, with all the political repercussions that such an expansion would entail.  It would also require careful consideration of additional contributors and substantial financial and logistical support. 

If the extension of ISAF was not considered immediately feasible, Pakistan’s representative said, it was incumbent on the Council and the international community to consider other effective modalities to provide security to other areas.  Elimination of Al Qaeda and related terrorists from Afghanistan remained a priority, and he supported the ongoing efforts of international coalitions to that end.  Pakistan’s effort in preventing the escape of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements and in tracking and capturing terrorists had been undertaken in cooperation with the United States and other coalition members.

The United States focus in Afghanistan was still centred on the conduct of the war on terrorism, and its troops were focusing on the destruction of the

(page 1b follows)

remaining Al Qaeda elements, that country’s representative said.  While recent developments were encouraging, Al Qaeda still remained active, posing a threat to security.  The efforts of the international community to train and equip the national army could not stand alone.  The core solution lay with the Afghan people themselves.

Statements were also made today by the representatives of Singapore, Bulgaria, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Syria, Mauritius, Cameroon, Guinea, China, Colombia, United Kingdom, Japan, Tajikistan, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), Republic of Korea, Ukraine, India, Iran, Malaysia and Canada.  The Permanent Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:22 a.m. and was suspended at 1:32 p.m.  It then resumed at 3:02 p.m. and adjourned at 4:52 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan.  It had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/56/1000-S/2002/737).  According to the report, the peace process initiated in Bonn continues to move forward, with all the steps provided for in the Bonn Agreement having been implemented in a timely fashion.

At the same time, the report continues, it should not be forgotten that the fall of the Taliban only ended the large-scale fighting between large military formations.  The other factions have neither disbanded nor disarmed, nor have they been integrated into any sort of national formation.  The Taliban are still present, along with remnants of Al Qaeda.

The Emergency Loya Jirga was prepared and held against this background of limited progress during the six months since the Bonn Conference, states the report.  During the 10 days of the Loya Jirga, no significant security incidents occurred, and the gathering managed to complete all three tasks set forth in Bonn: election of the head of State, approval of the structures, and appointment of the "key personnel" of the Transitional Authority.  The election by Afghans of their first leader after 23 years of conflict, in what was widely considered to have been as close as possible to a free and fair ballot, was a major achievement, as was the participation of an unprecedented number of women delegates.

The report goes on to say that, while the United Nations has fulfilled its mandate with respect to the Loya Jirga, its role and responsibilities do not end there.  In the coming months, the United Nations system and the international community must do their best to assist President Hamid Karzai and his administration. The main tasks ahead will be the establishment of a constitutional commission for the drafting of a new Constitution; the convening within 18 months of a constitutional Loya Jirga; and preparations for general elections. 

If the peace process is to succeed, notes the report, humanitarian and recovery activities must continue alongside these critical political steps.  However, donor funding has followed an uneven pattern since the launch of the United Nations Donor Alert in October 2001.  Since mid-April, resource flows for humanitarian and recovery activities have slowed dramatically.  This slowdown has disrupted programmes around the country, including those for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).  Of even greater concern is the lack of funding available to the Government to fund its basic services and extend its presence beyond Kabul.

The report adds that continuing insecurity in many parts of the country risks impeding, or even setting back, progress on the political front.  Until a national army has been formed, and in the absence of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence outside of Kabul, this climate of insecurity will be difficult to eliminate.  The Secretary-General, therefore, continues to strongly advocate a limited expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul.

Statements

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, said that so far the peace process was on track.  To be sure, it was a fragile peace, which must be handled with great care so that it did not unravel.  However, there were a few critical factors that gave cause for cautious optimism.  First, the people of Afghanistan were truly tired of fighting.  After 23 years in which they experienced every form of bloodshed and repression, and witnessed every kind of loss and destruction, Afghans were finally tasting peace, and most were determined to do everything in their power to avoid a relapse into war.

Second, while there were still many individuals and factions seeking power, and perhaps ready to go to great lengths to achieve or hold on to it, no one had so far opted out of the peace process.  Third, the international community’s interest in Afghanistan had not waned, despite the fact that there were many other crises and deserving causes elsewhere in the world.  A particular debt of gratitude was owed to the donor community for its invaluable assistance to the Interim Administration and its United Nations and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.

All the deadlines set out in the Bonn Agreement had been met on time, he said.  Perhaps the most significant was the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.  Indeed, the fact that it did take place, on schedule and without a single security incident, was a great achievement and a significant step forward in the peace process.

Despite those achievements, he noted, countless challenges and problems remained.  Foremost among those was security, which was one of the most critical requirements for a sustainable peace, but had remained elusive in many parts of the country.  Questions about how many members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda were left in the country, and what kind of a threat they really posed to the stability of Afghanistan, remained unanswered.  Until and unless there was evidence to the contrary, it must be assumed that those groups could still pose a threat.

The real key to the restoration of security, he said, lay in the creation of a national army and a national police force, along with a strong demobilization programme.  Equally important would be the proposed reform of the National Directorate for Security.  President Karzai had highlighted the establishment of the national army and police, and reform of the National Directorate for Security, as being among his top priorities for the transitional period, but he would need a clear commitment from factional leaders, as well as much more determined and sustained support from the international community to realize those objectives.

He continued to believe that the expansion of ISAF would have an enormous impact on security, and could be achieved with relatively few troops, at relatively little cost, and with little danger.  It had been suggested that alternative solutions for security might be proposed and considered pending the establishment of the national army and police.  However, no such ideas had been put forth, and even the very modest arrangements which the Secretary-General had proposed to provide security during the Loya Jirga were not supported. 

During the current transitional period, the Afghan leadership must translate the priorities outlined by President Karzai into a set of achievable objectives, including good governance, development of key institutions, and implementation of recovery and reconstruction projects.  The international community must do what it could to help the Government function as a cohesive national unit that spoke with one voice.  The Transitional Authority must also proceed quickly to establish a constitutional commission to undertake the sensitive task of drafting the country’s new Constitution. 

With regard to human rights and the justice sector, the commissions prescribed in Bonn had been set up, and he hoped they would soon be operational.  The objective was to assist in creating conditions that would allow Afghans to take full charge of those issues.  Clearly, the international community would have to provide significant assistance –- financial, technical and political -– to help the commissions carry out their difficult tasks, which would be critical in restoring accountability and the rule of law in Afghanistan.  However, the process must be led and implemented by Afghans. 

It must not be forgotten, he said, that there was still a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and that that crisis was likely to persist for some time.  In addition to helping the Government meet the humanitarian needs of its people, sustainable recovery and reconstruction efforts must also be supported.  But recovery and reconstruction had been slow to materialize, and the pledges made in Tokyo had not yet translated into concrete improvements in the lives of ordinary people.

Meanwhile, he continued, the Transitional Administration anticipated a serious crisis in covering recurrent expenditures beyond the next four to six months.  Continued engagement and urgent translation of pledges into commitments were essential.

As far as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was concerned, he said a core element of the Mission’s role during the next 18 months would be to assist in building national capacity and confidence in governance systems, so that international assistance would flow more directly to the Afghan administration and civil society organizations, making the United Nations presence lighter and more effective.  To achieve that across the board, the Mission planned to give maximum emphasis to supporting capacity development within central and provincial administrations, thereby increasing the number of Afghan professionals in the United Nations system.  That should go a long way towards achieving the objectives on which the structure of UNAMA was based. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that today’s presentation had painted a realistic picture of developments in the country.  The Bonn process was finally on track, and the recent Loya Jirga had played an important part in that respect.  It was a significant achievement, which had ensured Afghan participation in the rebuilding of the country.  The basis for change had been created. 

Despite those achievements, considerable challenges remained, he said.  The first one was that an existing power infrastructure, with numerous armed factions in Afghanistan, was based on the long history of conflict.  Those factions and regional commanders needed to be persuaded to participate in the process.  President Karzai should redouble his efforts to extend his authority beyond Kabul.  Afghan delegates who had participated in the Loya Jirga should be called upon to continue their active participation in future efforts towards reconstruction of the country.

Security was one of the critical requirements for peace, but it still remained elusive in many parts of the country.  The recent assassination of Vice-President Qadir testified to the fragility of peace in Afghanistan.  He wanted to know how the national directorate for security could be made more open and accountable, so that it was not perceived as a negative force in the country.  It was important to establish security all over Afghanistan.  A strong case had been made for the expansion of the ISAF throughout the country.  That could have an enormous effect on security, yet it did not require significant expenditures.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said that much remained to be done towards reconstruction and rehabilitation.  Generous pledges had been made at a recent donor conference in Tokyo, but now those pledges needed to be translated into a real commitment.  The challenge was to prove to the people of Afghanistan that the international community was committed to establishing stability and peace in the country.  The big lesson to be learned from the latest experience in Afghanistan was that there was a deep desire for peace among the people.  If the international community provided a helping hand, they would seize that opportunity and go back to peaceful life.  If that could be done in Afghanistan, it was important to consider what could be done in other countries of the world.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) thanked Mr. Brahimi and his staff for the excellent work they were doing in Afghanistan.  What made him optimistic about the country's future was the successful holding of the Loya Jirga.  Its success must be hailed despite some attempts at intimidation, and even direct attacks on the political process.  There was a real political debate among Afghans themselves during the Loya Jirga.  The election of Hamid Karzai to head the Transitional Administration was very positive, as he was certainly the right person at this time to lead the country. 

The importance of the ISAF, he said, could hardly be overstated.  He paid tribute to the orderly manner in which the United Kingdom handed over the reins as lead country to Turkey.  Now it was time for building Afghan institutions.  The international community could really help in that area in creating a true national army and police.  Bulgaria was participating in that international effort. Yesterday, the Bulgarian Government decided to provide military equipment to the re-emerging Afghan army. 

He drew the Council’s attention once again to the importance of combating drug production and trafficking.  Bulgaria was on the drug-trafficking road.  He welcomed the slight progress that had been made in that regard.  Bulgaria had decided to extend the mandate of its ISAF contingent for six months from 20 June, and had re-established diplomatic relations with Kabul.  It was also making bilateral efforts to provide assistance to Afghanistan, particularly in the area of energy.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) commended Mr. Brahimi for his accomplishments, saying that progress in Afghanistan was, in large part, due to his efforts.  Despite the progress, however, much remained to be accomplished in the country.  The United States focus in Afghanistan was still centred on the conduct of the war on terrorism, and its troops were focusing on the destruction of the remaining Al Qaeda elements.  While recent developments were encouraging, Al Qaeda still remained active, posing a threat to security.

Afghanistan should not be allowed to become a centre of terrorism once again, he continued.  Among the challenges were those of building a reliable security apparatus in the country and providing humanitarian assistance.  The Afghan national army needed to be created, and international military trainers were currently participating in the training of several battalions.  In that context, he expressed gratitude to States, which had provided donations to the Afghanistan Army Trust Fund.

The efforts of the international community to train and equip the national army could not stand alone, however.  The core solution lay with the Afghan people themselves.  Certain reforms were critical. The Transitional Authority must create a ministry of defence and national army, which would work for the benefit of the whole country.  The United States strongly supported Mr. Karzai’s efforts to establish the national defence leadership.  A critical step was reintegration of former combatants into the national army. 

His country continued to support the efforts of United Nations agencies to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, which should strengthen and legitimize the Afghan administration.  Its capacity to absorb and administer assistance in a transparent manner should be enforced.  Moving into the reconstruction phase, the national authorities, the international community and the United Nations needed to coordinate assistance efforts and programmes.  That issue had been discussed at recent meetings in Paris and Geneva. 

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said there was now a hardening foundation in Afghanistan on which the international community would continue to build.  When one considered where the country was last August, it was clear there had been serious progress.  While there were imperfections in the Loya Jirga, the fact that it took place successfully was a testament to the will of the Afghan people.  It was essential now that the Transitional Administration extend its authority throughout Afghanistan, enhancing its legitimacy and demonstrating the dividends that peace could bring.

There were still elements in Afghanistan that must not be ignored, he warned.  It must be ensured that the calculations of such elements had no prospects for success.  He condemned the assassination of the Vice-President of the Transitional Administration.  At the same time, he was encouraged by the calm reaction, which had refused to play into the hands of the assassins.  The Transitional Administration must now conduct a full and transparent inquiry into the killing.  Other high-profile acts of political violence must also be investigated.  Violence and impunity must be faced head-on by the weight of law and authority.

Afghans had been given a political voice once again after years of silence, he said.  The Loya Jirga gave an opportunity to women to participate in the political process once again.  While that was a small step forward, it was a significant and measurable one.  Now that the Loya Jirga process had reached a useful conclusion, it was crucial that donors fulfilled their pledges and commitments, particularly those made in Tokyo.  Ireland had already disbursed about half of its Tokyo pledge. 

Beyond massive reconstruction, he added, there were still acute humanitarian needs in the country, which must remain a priority of the international community.  While there had been heartening news of refugee returns, funding shortfalls had negatively affected programmes in that connection.  The security situation remained much more fragile outside Kabul, particularly in the north.  There were great challenges ahead as the Transitional Administration embarked on its work and reconstruction began in earnest.  The international community must continue to reassert its ongoing commitment to Afghanistan.

LEON RODRIGUEZ (Mexico) commended Mr. Brahimi’s` contribution to the peace process in Afghanistan and congratulated international agencies involved for their successful efforts.  While the Transitional Authority had barely begun its work, however, the situation in the country remained fragile.  The recent assassination of the Vice-President and assaults on aid workers underscored the challenges that remained. 

The hopes the people invested in the Transitional Authority needed to be matched by the international commitment, he said.  Ensuring security in the country, reintegration of refugees and IDPs, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance should be at the centre of international efforts.  The level of resources available was reaching its limit, however, and a fresh humanitarian crisis would undoubtedly go beyond the capacity of the international agencies involved.  In that connection, Mexico recognized the contribution of the donor countries and international agencies in Afghanistan.  The coordination work of UNAMA should be commended.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) welcomed the successful completion of the Loya Jirga, which represented a major step towards the fulfilment of the Bonn Agreement.  Given the complexity of the security situation, however, as well as the persistent humanitarian crisis, great challenges still remained in Afghanistan.  The recent tragic assassination of Vice-President Qadir clearly illustrated the fragility of the situation.  It also underscored the urgent need for establishing a national army under civilian leadership, an effective police force and reform of the security services.

Quick and tangible progress with reconstruction, under the direction of the Transitional Authority, was now essential in order to strengthen support for the central Government and have its presence felt throughout the country, he continued.  The people of the country should be provided with a peace dividend after more than 23 years of war.  However, building a new Afghanistan was primarily the responsibility of the country itself.  The people must set the priorities, determine the kind of assistance required and decide the pace of reconstruction efforts. 

The current humanitarian crisis was at the top of international priorities, he said, and funding for reintegration of large numbers of returnees was a crucial issue.  As the country had now reached a historic turning point, it faced the prospect of setting human rights on the agenda in a sound and broad-based manner.  The need for human rights protection on the ground was imperative.  There could be no sustainable peace if impunity for past and current abuses was allowed to prevail.  Institution-building must also be a key priority at this stage.  In that regard, the Authority's recent establishment of a human rights commission was a most welcome initiative. 

He also stressed the need to ensure women’s participation in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the importance of protecting the country’s children.  Together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Norway had worked on a number of initiatives to address the plight of Afghan children, who had been deprived of education, maimed, orphaned, displaced and abused.  Among those projects was a plan to organize a children’s conference that would bring together youth from all ethnic backgrounds, giving them an opportunity to become more active partners in their country’s recovery.

On 11 July, Norway had chaired an Afghanistan support group meeting, which highlighted both immediate and long-term needs.  Also discussed was an appropriate donor response.  The political road map for the future of Afghanistan had been agreed upon, and the country was still the focus of world attention.  Sustained support was of crucial importance through the second phase of the Bonn process.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) expressed his appreciation for the tireless efforts of Mr. Brahimi and the excellent work he and his staff undertook under difficult circumstances in the field.  He shared Mr. Brahimi’s optimism with regard to the political and security tracks in Afghanistan.  It was heartening that achievements in the political, economic and social fields had been so many, including the return of millions of children to school and the convening of the Loya Jirga, in which one eighth of the members were women.  All were important developments.  In addition, the first stages of the training of police and armed forces were all results that were cause for pride.

However, he continued, the process was still long and the task was not yet complete.  The United Nations Mission and Mr. Brahimi had a long way to go.  He admired Mr. Brahimi’s determination when he said that he would not let setbacks derail the progress made so far.  There were protracted problems that the Afghan Administration and people had to face, such as the security situation.  What could be done to realize the required security for Afghan people?  He shared assessment of Mr. Brahimi that the huge improvement in security in the past six months could be attributed to ISAF, as well as the assessment that serious insecurity in the north could obstruct the political situation.  He supported the extension of ISAF to cover all parts of the country.  Unless security prevailed in all of Afghanistan, the insecurity in some areas would affect the rest of the country. 

He added that political balance and the participation of all ethnic groups in determining the future of the country were essential.  He urged donor countries and others able to do so to provide more assistance to Afghanistan so that it could achieve adequate levels of security and political stability.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) thanked Mr. Brahimi for his comprehensive briefing on the situation in the country, and said that the fair and transparent manner in which the Loya Jirga had been held testified to the will and determination of the people of Afghanistan to establish the rule of law and rebuild the country, making it a safe place to live.  Now that the Transitional Authority was in place, it was necessary to create an adequate infrastructure, establish security and ensure safe return of refugees. 

He welcomed the establishment of a commission to carry out an inquiry into the assassination of the country’s Vice-President.  Although international staff maintained security in Kabul, there were serious security disruptions in the rest of the country.  For that reason, the creation of a national army acquired particular importance.  He supported the recent meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group and the pledges made by donors.  It was important for them to fulfil those pledges now.

The problems of Afghanistan required a joint approach, he said, which could bring security, economic growth and development to the country.  The humanitarian situation merited urgent international attention, and the return of refugees should be carried out in an organized manner.  Without international support, it would be difficult for the Transitional Authority to cope with the influx of refugees and IDPs. 

Turning to the issue of drug trafficking, he commended the efforts of the administration for eradication of poppy crops.  The establishment of the Ministry for Women’s Affairs was another major achievement. He hoped that it would increase women’s role in the civil service and allow for their increased participation in the life of the country.  ISAF’s contribution had been most positive, and he was confident that it would continue along the same path.  He supported the recommendation for a limited expansion of the ISAF beyond Kabul.  Of great importance was protection of humanitarian workers, as well.

GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) thanked Mr. Brahimi for his important contribution to the peace process in Afghanistan and said that the Emergency Loya Jirga in June had undoubtedly become a milestone in the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan.  It was an actual step towards achieving national reconciliation and establishing a stable political regime.  The results of the Loya Jirga reinforced the course towards complete removal of all hotbeds of terrorism in Afghanistan, as well as elimination of drug trafficking and religious extremism.

As positive developments, he noted the facts that the Loya Jirga had elicited enormous interest in Afghanistan society, and that, for the first time in a long time, women had played an important role in the process.  While some difficulties had been encountered in the organization of the Loya Jirga, one could hardly have expected instant harmony after years of conflict.  What was important was that a framework for the new Government had been created.  He hoped the Transitional Authority would continue a consistent policy of implementing the Bonn Agreement and do its utmost to restore peaceful conditions.

He endorsed Mr. Brahimi’s concern over the security situation in Afghanistan and welcomed the stabilizing role of the international force.  As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, under the present circumstances, it did not appear viable to expand the force beyond Kabul.  In that connection, it was particularly important to create the national army.  While important, foreign assistance in that respect should be handled firmly in accordance with the will of the international community, as enshrined in relevant Security Council decisions.  It was also important to ensure that those who were trained actually joined the armed forces, instead of leaving the military service immediately after receiving training.

He also noted the acute humanitarian situation in the country and the inadequacy of resources available for the Transitional Authority.  In the first stages of international efforts, Russia had provided assistance exceeding

$12 million.  It had also provided other assistance and intended to increase its contribution in the future.  In particular, work was under way to deliver food, medicines and other supplies for Afghanistan through Tajikistan.  Russia supported the central United Nations role in the country.  Time had also come for NGO and civil society activities to be coordinated by the Special Representative.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) hailed what he called an “Afghan miracle”:  all Bonn deadlines had been met, the Loya Jirga had been successfully convened and, above all, after 23 years, Afghans themselves had been consulted.  But the country was still vulnerable.  The security situation was still fragile, particularly in the north.  Even in Kabul, it had been possible in broad daylight for the Vice-President to be assassinated.  That act must not go unpunished.  What could be done to prevent Afghans from being haunted by their old demons? The effects of the change in regime must be tangible.  President Karzai must move from the emergency phase to reconstruction.  That must be done quickly, before the momentum dissipated.

In that regard, the assistance of the international community was crucial, he noted.  But it was not enough for money to arrive; it must be expended on tangible projects.  At present, too few palpable rapid-impact programmes had been seen.  Combating drugs was another issue that must be tackled resolutely.  The country required assistance for replacement crops and to tackle trafficking.  In 2003, France would be organizing a conference on the drug routes originating in Afghanistan.

He asked what must be done.  Should the ISAF be deployed outside Kabul?  It was true that it was doing a remarkable job.  While it was possible to discuss the merits and demerits of extending ISAF, the fact was that no country was ready to dispatch the thousands of men necessary to the provinces of Afghanistan.  Therefore, what could be done to rein in the warlords?  Full support must be extended to President Karzai, and economic conditionalities and the military clout of the coalition must be used.  Above and beyond that, the priority was to establish unified and multi-ethnic unified police and armed forces. 

The Afghan administration must urgently commit to an operational plan to establish its armed and police forces, he added.  Next week, France would present a draft presidential statement to lend the Council’s full support to the enormous task undertaken by Mr. Brahimi and President Karzai.

MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon) said that the job in Afghanistan was a mammoth one.  Among the concerns raised by Mr. Brahimi, three caught his attention -- security, emergency humanitarian assistance, and financing recovery and reconstruction.  The assassination of the Vice-President had brought the issue of security to the forefront again.  His death highlighted the need for constant vigilance.  The question of security outside Kabul was still a concern.  Developments on the ground had made re-examination of the extension of ISAF necessary.

He also appealed to donors to help Afghanistan avoid the pending famine.  In addition, he echoed the concerns of the Afghan Government and UNAMA in saying that it was high time for the pledges made in Tokyo to be fulfilled.  Unless there was immediate financial head way, the Transitional Administration would face many difficulties. 

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the new Afghanistan should be characterized by the rule of law, economic prosperity and harmony with its neighbours.  He deplored the assassination of Vice-President Qadir and hoped that the investigation into that matter would be successful.  Now that a new Transitional Authority had been created, the people of Afghanistan should make further steps towards a better future.  In that situation, the role of the United Nations and the international community was of great importance.

Special attention should be given to humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction and recovery, he said.  Needs included food assistance, aid to refugees, and restoration of the infrastructure.  He also stressed the need to create and maintain a climate of security in the whole country, for now parts of Afghanistan were under the rule of its remaining warlords.  The administration should be helped to establish its full authority in the country.  The disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and rehabilitation (DDRR) programme for former combatants needed to be strengthened, and ISAF must continue to block efforts to jeopardize peace.  The path created by the Bonn Agreement was an arduous one.  It was important to conclude it successfully, and the international community should act in unison to achieve its goals. 

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that, under the leadership of Mr. Brahimi, UNAMA had successfully cooperated with the Interim Administration in realizing the goals of the Bonn Agreement.  Since the successful conclusion of the Loya Jirga, the situation had changed dramatically, and the Transitional Administration had begun to turn Afghanistan into a peaceful and prosperous country.  The situation there Afghanistan was increasingly returning to normalcy.

It was important to remember, however, that it was impossible to heal the country’s wounds overnight.  Sustainable development was not an easy matter, especially in view of persistent concerns over the current security situation.  Without peace and stability, it was impossible to establish peace, and he hoped that local warlords would come under the authority of the central Government.  His Government strongly condemned the assassination of the country’s Vice-President. The international community should seriously consider ways of helping the Afghan authorities to maintain security. 

The humanitarian crisis remained a priority, he said, and the question of resources was important in that respect.  It was disturbing that because of the lack of funds, some international agencies had been forced to streamline or even suspend their activities in Afghanistan, and he called on donor countries to honor their pledges in order to avoid new crises.  China was following developments closely and providing help for its reconstruction.

ANDRES FRANCO (Colombia) welcomed the progress being made in implementing the Bonn Agreement, which was a constantly evolving process subject to challenges and difficulties.  He also paid tribute to Mr. Brahimi, President Karzai, UNAMA, neighbouring countries and the rest of the international community for their sustained commitment to Afghanistan.  Further, he hailed the political progress made so far, including the holding of the Loya Jirga, the creation of the transitional government and, in general, the steps Afghanistan had taken to establish a participatory democracy.  He expressed confidence in the United Nations approach, which aimed at national capacity-building as the most effective instrument for achieving results.

Drawing attention to the importance of the Afghan Government’s commitment to eradicating opium production, he emphasized the need to apply the principle of shared responsibility to that issue.  The security issue was still a recurrent one and the most presiding need of the Afghans at the current time.  The Secretary-General’s report urged the Council to make security the first rebuilding project in the country.  Reluctance on the part of potential contributors could not be used to tolerate complacency on the part of the Council in examining the need to extend ISAF to areas other than Kabul.  The presence of Taliban cells and vestiges of Al Qaeda, the continued presence of independent military factions and recent political assassinations argued in favour of the Council’s consideration of the security situation. 

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, shared many of the analyses of other speakers.  He was grateful for the kind remarks made about the United Kingdom’s six-month leadership of ISAF.  He shared the concern expressed about insecurity in provinces outside Kabul and its implication for the humanitarian recovery effort.  He also attached importance to progress in security sector reform.  It was important, for instance, to ensure consistency between ongoing army training and the demobilization of private militias.  The United Kingdom would contribute strongly to that structure as part of its overall contribution in Afghanistan.

He echoed Mr. Brahimi’s call for donors to deliver on their pledges, which was critical for establishing the credibility of the Transitional Authority in the eyes of the Afghan people.  He reminded the Council of the counter-narcotics conference his country would be hosting on 13 July.

He asked Mr. Brahimi to comment on the incidents of corruption in Afghan structures.  He also asked what structures were being put in place by Afghans to ensure that women’s issues were taken forward in practice.

RAVAN FARHADI (Afghanistan) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in his country.  Developments in Afghanistan following the conclusion of the Bonn Agreement testified to the United Nations success in Afghanistan.  He expressed his Government’s gratitude to Mr. Brahimi and his colleagues for their insistent efforts to bring about the recovery and reconstruction of Afghanistan.  The success of the Loya Jirga had been a milestone after years of conflict and instability.  The people of the country had exercised their right to self-determination, establishing a new transitional Government.  It was important to note a broad participation of women and the presence of international monitors who ensured a fair and competitive nature of the exercise, as well as introduction of a secret ballot during the exercise.

The return of peace had brought about a massive flow of returning refugees, he continued.  Up to 1.3 million had recently returned from neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Upon arrival, they faced extreme difficulties, and successful programmes were needed to provide housing, education and other services to the returnees.  The funds provided so far had been insufficient.  Additional consideration should be provided to the restoration of irrigation systems, demining and creation of employment opportunities. 

Among other achievements, he mentioned the establishment of a number of commissions, including the Judicial Commission aimed at the rebuilding of the justice system of the country and the Human Rights Commission, which consisted of both men and women.  The back-to-school programme had been launched.  The Government was strongly committed to the drug-eradication programme. 

But much remained to be accomplished, he said.  In order to exert full authority over the country, the Transitional Authority had begun the creation of an ethnically balanced national army.  A high-level commission had been established to monitor collection of arms from regional groupings, some of which were opposed to the central authority.

He went on to say that the Government’s efforts were significantly hampered by insufficiency of resources.  Consolidation of peace and stability depended largely on the sustained engagement of the international community in providing reconstruction assistance.  Job creation and quick-impact projects would have a direct impact on the creation of stability and on the demobilization of former combatants.  During the 11 July meeting of the Afghan Reconstruction Steering Group in Paris, the country’s representatives had clearly described the country’s needs and requirements.

In conclusion, he thanked participants for a lucid analysis of the situation in the country and for their efforts to provide assistance to Afghanistan.  His Government highly appreciated the role of ISAF.  As for its possible extension beyond the capital (although for the time being there was no imminent danger requiring urgent action), it would be wise to think about the future.  There was, therefore, an argument for increasing the Force’s role, initially in selected areas.  Afghanistan should not be considered a tabula rasa –- it had had a Government, a national army, police and balanced relations between various ethnic groups.  It had not been the Mujaheddin who destroyed Kabul -- all that had happened in Afghanistan was because of foreign intervention.  The people of the country desired peace and, given a chance, they would return to peaceful life.

SADAKO OGATA, Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Japan on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, said that she had visited the country last month.  She had been able to have discussions with key officials of the Afghan Administration, including President Karzai, the ISAF leadership and members of the diplomatic community.  In Kandahar, she had met with local government officials and representatives of United Nations agencies.  Also in June, she visited IDP and refugee camps in Spin Boldak and Chaman.  Her overall impression was that significant improvement had been achieved since her last visit five months ago.

She went on to describe the Loya Jirga, saying that it “was an impressive sight to witness 1,650 chosen delegates, including 200 women, assembled in an enormous tented hall, openly making and reacting to statements for more than one week”.  The successful conclusion of that exercise was essential for long-term peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan.  On the other hand, as recently underscored by the tragic assassination of Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir, the political balance on which the newly created Transitional Authority stood, was still very precarious.

Among the issues that required urgent attention were security and rapid return of refugees, she continued.  In her meetings with Pashtun IDPs who had fled the war in recent months, they had requested redeployment of the international peacekeeping presence in Mazar-el-Sharif, mentioning demobilization and disarmament of armed elements, as well as compensation for lost property as necessary preconditions to their return.  She felt that their pleas merited the Council’s renewed consideration.  She also wished to join those calling for the deployment of ISAF or another peacekeeping force in unstable areas of the north and for international efforts to assist the reform and rehabilitation of the national military, police and judicial systems.

Regarding the return of refugees, she said that there would inevitably be variations in the rate of the return, but a rapid flow of refugees, combined with internal displacements due to drought and ethnic confrontations, could overwhelm the capacity of receiving communities.  That concern had been repeatedly raised by officials in Kabul and Kandahar.  In order to stabilize the country, immediate steps must be taken to provide employment opportunities and other forms of assistance for returnees and IDPs, so that they could be swiftly integrated into local communities.

In the post-Loya Jirga phase of the Bonn process, she said, the international community must take the next step and begin full-scale implementation of its recovery and reconstruction assistance.  This month's Afghan Reconstruction Steering Group co-Chairs meeting in Paris had provided a good opportunity to review current needs and resources pledged.  It had also provided a chance to coordinate a future strategy. 

Full-scale reconstruction efforts seemed to be still at the planning stage, she said.  Humanitarian assistance continued to predominate, while recovery work was still in the offing.  At this point, all international efforts should be devoted to community development and reintegration of refugees, IDPs and former combatants.  A refugee and IDP return and reintegration programme of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP, and other humanitarian agencies, combined with regional reconstruction programmes of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, could constitute the base for a comprehensive area development programme.  Such a programme was, in fact, being formulated under the leadership of UNAMA, in close cooperation with the country’s authorities.  Japan

intended to play a key role in comprehensive area development and would be announcing a large assistance package in the next few weeks.

Comments by Special Representative of Secretary-General

With regard to the expansion of ISAF, Mr. BRAHIMI said he had heard the United Kingdom and France say that no countries were willing to respond to the request for expansion.  However, the Council had taken it upon itself to help the people of Afghanistan as they tried to reinforce the fragile peace.  The Afghans considered ISAF to have been successful in Kabul and felt it could help in other areas.  The people of Afghanistan wanted that from the international community.  Five months ago, he had the impression that expanding ISAF would not be difficult or expensive.  Now, five months later, he was certain that it was important, would be effective, would not require tens of thousands of soldiers –- about 5,000 would do -- and would not be dangerous. 

As had been noted today, security was ultimately the responsibility of the Afghans, he said.  However, they could not start with training but rather with patient discussion with the authorities in Afghanistan to ensure that the structures for the national army and national police were there and that the conditions for security sector reform were in place.  Also, the intelligence service must not be an organ that intimidated the people of Afghanistan.  There was a project to begin the reform of the intelligence body, for which President Karzai had requested support.

Turning to the issue of corruption, he said that President Karzai had stated that it must be uprooted from Afghanistan.  The Government was ready to do its share and must be helped to do so.  He warned that the international community must be careful in the area of drug cultivation and trafficking, which were also areas where corruption could thrive. 

He noted that the structures in place for women’s issues included a ministry for women.  Programmes could not be put together far away from Afghanistan, with little awareness that Afghanistan was a conservative country with proud traditions.  The international community must help the women of Afghanistan without imposing on them agendas that could backfire if they were not careful. 

When the meeting resumed this afternoon, RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) also expressed gratitude to Mr. Brahimi for his able leadership in Afghanistan.  Despite substantive results, however, the country still faced many important challenges.  Today’s meeting testified to the commitment of the United Nations to peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.  As a neighbouring country, Tajikistan was closely following progress there, sincerely wishing its people success in overcoming all barriers on the way to national reconciliation and unity.

Of high importance was the fact that delegates from all corners of the country had been able to elect the head of the new Government.  Also reassuring was the fact that many women had participated in the Loya Jirga.  He was impressed not only with the results of the Loya Jirga, but with the whole complex of efforts to convene it. 

The lessons of the peace process in his own country had demonstrated that it was impossible to achieve real peace and stability without putting aside former differences.  Feeling optimistic about the positive developments in Afghanistan, Tajikistan would continue to provide support to that country and its new Government headed by President Karzai.  Convoys of international humanitarian assistance were coming into that country through the transportation corridors from Tajikistan. 

Among the main tasks in Afghanistan was the need to ensure security, economic rehabilitation and creation of an effective political system, where there would be no place for international terrorists and drug dealers.  The new Government of the country was committed to achieving those goals.  He hoped the international community would support the rebuilding of the country.

MOKHTAR LAMANI, Permanent Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that the situation in Afghanistan remained tense, and a number of dangers persisted.  The Secretary-General’s report had referred to the fact that the peace process was making steady progress, and that all the deadlines set in the Bonn Agreement had been met, despite the difficulties and chaos that existed in Afghanistan.

It was necessary to respond to three demands, he said.  First, security and stability in the country must be strengthened, which was crucial for safe refugee return.  Secondly, to meet the first demand, a degree of economic and social development must be guaranteed.  Thirdly, it was important to involve the population in the development of the country and set up the necessary institutions and structures.

He noted that the humanitarian crisis was widespread.  The financial assistance provided by donors was not up to the challenge.  That had disrupted important programmes throughout the country.  To ensure the rule of law, it was necessary to set up appropriate institutions, which required a certain level of security.  The legitimate Government, headed by President Karzai, must be assisted.  It was crucial to strengthen efforts to consolidate peace and security throughout the country.  The steps pursued by Mr. Brahimi would help put an end to the Afghan tragedy and enable Afghans to play their rightful role in the international community. 

ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, welcomed the outcome of the Emergency Loya Jirga and the election of the head of State, Hamid Karzai.  The Loya Jirga process had demonstrated eagerness for involvement in democratization process from Afghans across the country.  She was gratified that women had represented a strong voice in the process.  The Union strongly deplored the assassination of Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir and urged the Transitional Authority to conduct an investigation into it.  She called upon the Afghan people not to let the tragic event disrupt the peace process.

Significant challenges remained, however.  Lack of security continued to be a primary concern for the Afghan people and international organizations working in Afghanistan.  Another challenge was making newly established institutions work and expanding their influence to the provinces.  The Transitional Government had the main responsibility for ensuring progress on those and many other issues during the second stage of the Bonn process.  The Union would continue its political and financial support for that role.

The overall goal of the Union’s cooperation with Afghanistan was full implementation of the Bonn Agreement, she said.  The end-goal should be the establishment of a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.  The Union had a long-term commitment to assist in the creation of an Afghan State that respected human rights, including women's rights and the rule of law.  Welcoming the steps Afghanistan had taken so far to tackle the production and processing of drugs, she said the Union was committed to working with Afghanistan to combat the problem.  Regarding the establishment of the Constitutional Commission, the Union called on the Transitional Government to give sufficient impetus to the work of the Commission once established.

The Union was committed to delivering substantial contributions to the development of Afghanistan, she said.  It would encourage the allocation of development aid in a way that strengthened the role of the central Government, while, at the same time, ensuring that a visible peace dividend reached the population as a whole.  She strongly encouraged all donors to provide assistance within the framework of the National Development Budget, which was soon to be presented by the Afghan administration.  Noting serious lack of funds for recurrent costs in 2002, she urged donors to consider ways to fill the gap, in particular, by rapid disbursement of funds already pledged.

While the Union welcomed the return of the large number of refugees to Afghanistan, it was concerned that returnees were not receiving the international support they needed to ensure their sustainable reintegration.  It was crucial for the international community to step up efforts, including supporting local communities.  Events had proved that when the thirst for peace of the Afghan people was coupled with the resolve of neighbouring countries and the international community, much could be achieved.  Despite the complexity of present challenges, there was a real chance for the Afghan people and the international community to bring life back to normal.

UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said that, on 20 June, following the successful leadership of the United Kingdom, his country had assumed the command of ISAF.   It had already established a harmonious working relationship with the Afghan authorities as part of its efforts to implement the objectives of the international community in Kabul and surrounding areas.  The situation in and around the capital was generally calm.  The city was beginning to thrive, with increased commercial and social activity.  The ISAF was well received by the local community.  At the request of the Minister of the Interior, the Force Commander had decided to increase joint patrolling with Afghan police.  Nevertheless, the security situation still required the Mission’s full attention.

The assassination of Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir on 6 July had highlighted the need for enhanced coordination between the intelligence and internal security bodies.  To that end, ISAF had proposed forming a working group to be composed of officials from relevant institutions.

Afghanistan and the international community were faced with important tasks and challenges, he continued, including the creation of a national army.  Along with several other nations, Turkey was willing to continue to provide assistance in the formation and training of the army.  While national efforts were under way to train individual Afghan battalions, setting up of overall institutional structure and command-and-control arrangements for a new army were matters of great urgency. 

To help the Afghan Government’s efforts to consolidate its authority, sustained international aid was essential, he said.  Inability to pay salaries to army and police officers and civil servants would not help to bring about stability in the country.  The people of Afghanistan had displayed tremendous determination and maturity at the Loya Jirga; the international community now owed them its full commitment.  It was most important to deal with the issues of returning refugees and to stem the narcotics trade. 

Regarding references to the need for expansion of the area of ISAF’s responsibility, he said that it would call into question the existing conceptual approach, with all the political repercussions that such an expansion would entail.  It would also require careful consideration of additional contributors and substantial financial and logistical support.

SUN JOUNG-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that, in the past month, the international community had witnessed some encouraging political events in Afghanistan, such as the successful conclusion of the Emergency Loya Jirga and the inauguration of the Transitional Authority under the presidency of Hamed Karzai.  Such welcome developments testified that Afghanistan was moving forward towards the political stability and economic viability envisaged in the Bonn Agreement. The people and leaders of Afghanistan, as well as the international community, should be warmly congratulated.

The Republic of Korea was fully cognizant, however, that such positive developments were only the beginning of a long and difficult process of recovery and stability.  The security, economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan still fell far short of what was needed to ensure the survival of a stable, strong and full-fledged democracy.  The recent violence that had led to the death of member of the new Administration reflected the fragility of the political and security environment.

He said that among the acute challenges facing Afghanistan was the need to build relevant security and administrative structures and to secure the material resources for implementing the Government’s programmes in health, education, humanitarian and other basic areas.  The Republic of Korea had been actively participating in international efforts towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan, commensurate with its capacity, and would have contributed some $10 million by the end of the year.  His Government also planned to dispatch a military medical team to Kabul later this month.  Finally, he said that the urgency of the situation required the sustained engagement of the international community, in close partnership with the Afghan people, to ensure that the ongoing transitional process would lead to a successful outcome.

VALERIY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that the security situation in the country, particularly outside Kabul, remained a major concern.  The issue should be a priority for the Council, the UNAMA and the ISAF, as well as the Afghans themselves.  Progress on the political, security, recovery and reconstruction tracks was interlinked.  Continuing insecurity and violence in many parts of the country, therefore, undermined progress in political, reconstruction and humanitarian efforts. 

The establishment and training of a multi-ethnic Afghan national army and police force was critical to the achievement of stability and lasting peace, he said.  At the same time, it was clear that despite successful training of a new Afghan army and police force, those units would not be able to provide adequate security in the country for many months to come.  The international community should continue to support the new Afghan Government during that critical stage.

Reconstruction, humanitarian relief and development remained major goals which required international support and United Nations leadership, he added.  One of the most important problems was to ensure sufficient funding for such activities.  It was also important to pay attention to the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes and tackle the problems of drug production and trafficking and mine clearance.  In addition, it was essential to facilitate the extension of control of the Transitional Administration throughout Afghanistan. 

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that after 23 years of war and devastation, the Bonn Agreement and subsequent Emergency Loya Jirga had restored relative calm in Afghanistan -- but that did not mean the country was out of the woods.  It was still wrestling with the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the warlords working to advance their own vested agenda, and deep-seated mutual distrust among tribal groups.  At the same time, Afghanistan was facing the formidable task of building its institutions and ensuring security and better standards of living for its people.

The ISAF was providing much-needed security to Kabul, he continued, cautioning that a small oasis of security in a vast desert of insecurity was untenable.  Security coverage should be gradually expanded throughout the land, in a manner that the people saw as serious and steady.  The disarmament and reintegration of armed Afghan groups should be integral to the scheme.  Once domestic military and police forces were trained and deployed, security must become the responsibility of the Afghan Government itself.  At this stage, however, he suggested that the Council should mount a robust United Nations peacekeeping mission to work alongside ISAF until the local forces were ready to take their positions.

For the people, security from fear was as essential as security from want.  Nepal applauded the international community for coming to rescue Afghanistan from its dire financial state.  However, it was also alarmed that humanitarian relief, recovery and reconstruction had been affected by insufficient funding.  Financial uncertainty would not be helpful in healing the country’s wounds, stabilizing peace and promoting development.

The people of the country would themselves have to evolve institutions and processes best suited for their society, he said.  What outsiders could best do was inspire and help them to find progressive, functional and acceptable social equilibriums and encourage them to meet the internationally approved fundamental norms of behaviour.  In that connection, he cautioned against imposing structures and processes that the country still found alien, unacceptable or unsustainable.

V.K. NAMBIAR (India) said that since the Council’s last consideration of the situation in Afghanistan, a number of momentous developments had taken place.  He welcomed the outcome of the Emergency Loya Jirga and the election of Hamid Karzai as the President of the Transitional Government.  But the Transitional Government, like its predecessor, faced an uphill task in rebuilding the Afghan national economy, its infrastructure and institutions of governance.  It also faced an uncertain security situation in certain parts of the country.

While the international community had every reason to feel satisfied over the transformation from the brutal Taliban regime to a multi-ethnic democratic order, threats and dangers that could undermine achievements must not be overlooked, he said.  The assassination of Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir within a month of the Loya Jirga was a disquieting sign that the forces of instability and extremism continued to cast a dark shadow over the country and region.  The continued regrouping of Al Qaeda and Taliban cadres along Afghanistan's southern and south-eastern borders heavily impinged on the security situation in Afghanistan and the region.  What was more worrying was that they continued to receive external support.  To meet that challenge, a major element of the institutional reconstruction effort in Afghanistan had to be the development of its security structures.  It was important that those structures should be established as Afghan institutions, flowing out of intra-Afghan processes. 

Afghanistan today, that country required extensive, long-term international assistance to meet its reconstruction and humanitarian requirements, he continued. India was committed to providing extensive assistance. One of the bulwarks against destabilizing factors in the Afghan capital had been the ISAF.  He commended the United Kingdom for its successful handling of the ISAF command, and expressed appreciation to Turkey for agreeing to take over leadership of the Force.  He strongly commended Lakhdar Brahimi and the UNAMA team for their imaginative and highly disciplined efforts.  He also reiterated India’s support for President Hamid Karzai, the Transitional Authority and the Afghan people in their efforts to build a stable, democratic nation.

HADI NEJAD-HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that, while the transfer of power from the Interim Administration to the Transitional Authority constituted an important step in implementing the Bonn Agreement, there was no room for complacency.  The Afghan people and their Government were still facing a host of problems that, if unchecked, might disrupt the steadfast and smooth return of the country to peace and stability.

Security remained a cause for concern, he said.  There were reports indicating that elements of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were regrouping and presenting rising threats to security in southern and eastern Afghanistan.  He was also concerned over insecurity in northern Afghanistan, which mainly resulted from rivalry among local commanders, as well as reports of attacks on minorities and aid workers.  Appropriate international security assistance on the ground would help maintain peace in Afghanistan.  The creation of an indigenous Afghan security sector should be expedited by the Afghans and the international community.

The early commencement of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and its steady progress might have an important impact on the security situation in various parts of the country, he said.  The successful transfer of power to the Afghan Transitional Authority should further enable members of the international community to expedite the fulfilment of pledges they had undertaken.  There was no doubt that the lack of funding available to the Government impaired its ability to extend its presence beyond Kabul.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the prospects for peace, while no longer remote, were contingent on the political will of the people of Afghanistan and the continued support of the international community.  On the security front, he noted the continuing military operations against remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which had greatly reduced the threats they posed.  He regretted the deaths of innocent civilians in a number of operations and hoped that such accidents would be avoided in future.  On the political front, he was gratified that the Afghans had taken a critical step in their political rehabilitation by convening the Loya Jirga.  He commended them for their wisdom in using the traditional mechanism for laying the foundation of national unity.

He also congratulated President Karzai, saying his election went beyond his ethnic group and reflected the confidence of his people in his leadership and vision.  Condemning the assassination of Vice-President Qadir, he hoped that Afghanistan under President Karzai's leadership would move steadily ahead.  He also hoped the recently concluded Loya Jirga would begin the process of empowering the Afghan people.  They had demonstrated their newfound will and decided their country’s destiny when they overcame the many difficulties put in their way by those who wanted to derail the process. 

His delegation shared the concern about the security situation in the country beyond Kabul.  The role of ISAF should be extended to other cities.  The need for security in Afghanistan was a prerequisite for the success of the entire political and economic reconstruction processes.  Upon it hinged the success of other activities, such as the delivery of humanitarian assistance, repatriation of refugees and attracting foreign investment.

Security was essential for the return of normality to Afghanistan after decades of armed conflict.  The Transitional Government would likely face a tough 18 months in its efforts to rebuild and bring about a durable peace.  In spite of the many impediments, the present situation presented the best opportunity for the people to resolve their internal conflicts.  Afghanistan also had a viable economic reconstruction plan firmly on the table.  Prospects for political reconciliation had never looked more promising.  However, the "spoiler" that could unravel concerted international efforts was the prevailing insecurity in the rest of the country, which made the expansion of the security umbrella to other parts of the country an issue of great urgency.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that the sustained commitment of the international community would be vital to ensure that Afghans saw tangible benefits from the political process, and that those who would “spoil the peace” were deterred from doing so.  After decades of conflict, confidence in civil authority in Afghanistan was a precious and rare commodity.  If it was to endure and broaden, Afghans must also see that they were full participants in a fair and inclusive political process.

The restoration of the rule of law and enjoyment of the tangible benefits of peace throughout the country, he said, were key to breaking the cycle of civil conflict and suffering and to ending its use as a terrorist base.  He looked to the Transitional Administration to promote respect for international humanitarian and human rights law in Afghanistan as a priority.

Canada, as the current Chair of the Group of 8, was pleased that the Group of 8 countries continued their work with the Afghan administration and UNAMA, particularly with respect to security sector reform, peace-building and reconstruction.  It was clear that humanitarian assistance was still, and would for some time be, urgently needed.  The restoration and maintenance of peace and security was essential if reconstruction and development investments were to endure.

He noted that the Transitional Administration faced a shortfall in its budget of $377 million -– funds that were needed to pay civil servants, security sector personnel and teachers.  Canada had announced a $10 million contribution to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which would help defray recurring costs of the Transitional Administration and provide for quick-impact projects.  His country had also now disbursed or approved a little over $40 million of the

$100 million it had pledged in Tokyo.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) welcomed the recent landmarks in fulfilling objectives of the Bonn process, including the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration, and the election of President Hamid Karzai.  The people of Pakistan, who shared so much with the people of Afghanistan, also shared their hope for a better future. Despite the twists and turns of history, the bonds between the people of both nations remained unbreakable and irrevocable.

He said Pakistan would continue to work with its Afghan brothers.  Despite resource constraints, Pakistan had pledged $100 million for Afghanistan at the Tokyo Conference earlier this year.  Some of that financial assistance had already been extended.  Bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan in various fields, including road construction, telecommunications, media development and power generation, was continuing and expanding.  Pakistan had also offered special training in the field of demining.

Pakistan fully understood that a priority goal of the international community remained the elimination of the Al Qaeda and related terrorists from Afghanistan, and supported the ongoing efforts of international coalitions to that end.  The accidental civilian casualties had been regrettable, however. Pakistan's effort in preventing the escape of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements and in tracking and capturing terrorists who might have crossed the border had been successful.  Those efforts had been undertaken in cooperation with the United States and other coalition members.

In the war against terrorism, he continued, Pakistan had offered the greatest sacrifices in blood and tears.  Last week in one border operation alone, Pakistan had lost 10 men.  Yet, despite those sacrifices and despite some anticipated domestic difficulties, President Musharraf and his Government had not flinched in their support of the campaign to root out terrorist elements in the region.  Pakistan's efforts had been sustained despite subversive endeavours by its eastern neighbour to exploit the war against terror for its own objectives.

He said Pakistan had been obliged to deploy the largest part of its forces along its eastern border and along the United Nations-supervised Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, to respond to the threat of war.  Still, even at the height of the eastern tensions a few weeks ago, Pakistan had not moved its anti-terrorist forces deployed along the Afghan border.

While Pakistan shared the hopes and dreams of the Afghan people, it also shared some of their most serious concerns.  Everyone had acknowledged that security was the key to promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan -- enabling the safe delivery of humanitarian relief to displaced and destitute people, encouraging the early return of Afghan refugees, and implementing plans for economic and social reconstruction.  It must be admitted, however, that it had not so far been possible to promote security in all parts of Afghanistan.

Several regions, he continued, were visibly insecure, infested with bandits and outlaws.  Tens of thousands of fighters remained armed throughout the country -- most of them loyal to tribal and factional leaders.  Such "regional influentials" appeared to have consolidated their grip on power in recent months, denying the authority of the Transitional Administration.  The Council was now considering two alternatives to address the problem of security. 

The first option, to expand ISAF and extend its mandate at least to other cities in Afghanistan, was favoured by the Secretary-General, Mr. Brahami and

Mr. Karzai, and deserved renewed consideration.  The second option -- of creating an indigenous Afghan army and police force -- would no doubt be indispensable in the long term to provide the Afghan Central Government with the effective ability to rule the country.  But constituting the army and police force would take time. If the extension of ISAF was not considered immediately feasible, it was incumbent on the Council and on members of the international community operating in Afghanistan to consider other effective modalities to provide security to all regions of the country.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.