I wish to first thank SRSG Haysom for his extensive briefing and Ambassador Saikal for his statement. We value SRSG Haysom’s insights on the enormous security, political and economic challenges faced by Afghanistan and his persistent and untiring efforts to work with the Afghan partners for peace.
2. We are supportive of the Afghan government’s unwavering commitment and ongoing efforts towards achieving national unity and lasting stability, as rightly underscored by Ambassador Saikal.
3. However, although we commend the best efforts of the Government and the ANSF, it is worrying that the Taliban appears to be gaining ground, and sowing fear among the vulnerable and long-suffering population.
4. The horrific string of attacks yesterday for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility is an example of their continued barbarism. As such, we are pleased that Council has swiftly agreed to condemn the attacks and express solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan.
5. We remain convinced that the Taliban – as well as other violent extremist and terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan – must continue to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. In this context, the ongoing efforts to “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan population must be stepped up to deny the Taliban their support base.
6. Like many others in wanting to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, Malaysia placed much hope that the recently established Quadrilateral Coordination Group on the Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Process (QCG) could successfully convene direct peace talks between the Government and the Taliban.
7. Unfortunately, given the continuing Taliban intransigence, such hope remain unachievable. The recent killing of the principal Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, according to some analysts, would appear to have complicated the QCG’s efforts in this regard.
8. Against such developments, it requires no reiteration that meaningful progress towards sustainable peace and stability can only be achieved through peaceful political settlement among the parties. It is hoped that the QCG members will continue to explore and pursue all avenues in facilitating early direct talks between the Government and the Taliban.
9. In this respect, Malaysia is pleased to note the Afghan Government’s steadfast commitment in implementing the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework. The Afghan Government’s robust engagement and cooperation with regional partners and the international community, including through the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, is encouraging.
10. The NATO Warsaw Summit next month, and the upcoming Brussels Conference in October, in our view, present opportunities for partners to complement and assist the Afghan Government’s reconstruction and development efforts.
11. At the regional-level, cooperation in addressing security issues and countering the threat of terrorism and extremism has thus far been encouraging. Pursuing further collective efforts involving the Afghan Government, regional partners and the UN in developing a framework for regional counter terrorism strategy within the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process is imperative.
12. My delegation further notes that the Secretary-General’s report on Afghanistan highlights among others, increasing number of civilian casualties - mainly attributable to anti-government forces or elements. It is therefore not surprising that children continue to suffer disproportionately from the ongoing conflict, accounting for almost one-third of all civilian casualties.
13. On a positive note, Malaysia is encouraged with the strong progress in ending recruitment of children by the Afghan National Police. Malaysia strongly encourages full implementation of the Action Plan and Roadmap, particularly by the Afghan Local Police.
14. However, the plight of the children is not over as non-state armed groups and violent extremist groups continue to recruit and retain children among their ranks through manipulation or coercion due to poverty. In this connection, we call on all parties to the conflict to undertake the necessary measures to uphold the obligation to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all children in the country.
15. It must be emphasized that the international community’s support is especially vital to the success of this long-term endeavor. Towards that end, we call for continuing and strengthened cooperation between the Government and the UN, particularly with UNAMA and the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict, as well as with bilateral and other multilateral partners and stakeholders.
16. In concluding, Malaysia reiterates its firm support for the reconciliation and reintegration efforts undertaken by the Afghan Government to provide a secure future for all Afghans, and to end violent extremism and terror groups’ activities.
I thank you, Mr. President.