Afghanistan transition train steaming ahead: UN
UNITED NATIONS, July 6: Security generally is improving in Afghanistan, making it a favourable time to transfer power to the Kabul government and hold peace talks with the Taliban, the UN special envoy to the country said on Wednesday.
International diplomat Staffan de Mistura declared that Afghanistan finds itself at a “special crossroad,” despite a spate of recent attacks that have left scores dead in recent weeks.
The violence includes fighting on Wednesday that killed up to 33 police and five civilians.Still, de Mistura, who heads up the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said it is a propitious time to lay the groundwork for the next phase of governance, in which Afghanistan takes responsibility for its own security and governance.“Transition: it`s like a train and it`s moving forward. According to every indicator I have, it is on track,” the envoy said at a meeting of the UN Security Council.
As far as Afghanistan`s overall security situation is concerned, there exists “the perception of an improvement, which is true,” he said. Still, de Mistura acknowledged the carnage of the past several weeks, amid a continuing barrage of border attacks along Afghanistan`s border with Pakistan.
“There have been attacks in the Intercontinental hotel, many of you — many of us — have been there. It was shocking,” he said, blaming the bloodshed on `anti-government forces`.”
“There have been attacks inside the city, inside the military hospital and the ministry of defence. There have been in Kandahar for two days, in Herat,” he said.
“There is a constant attempt during the spring offensive… and the summer to try to reverse that perception by giving signals of surgical, dramatic attacks,” de Mistura added.
He said however that the Kabul government so far has held its own against the rebel fighters and “been able to handle” the onslaught.
His remarks come some two weeks after US President Barack Obama announced that he would withdraw 33,000 US “surge” troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, bringing total US forces there down to 65,000.
After that announcement, there was an uptick of violence in Afghanistan, including that attack on the InterContinental, a hotel favoured by the country`s elite.
In that assault, nine heavily armed Taliban militants, some in suicide vests, stormed the hotel last month, sparking a ferocious battle that left at least 21 dead, including the attackers.
In the face of such violence, the speed of the drawdown has been slammed by senior Republican lawmakers in the United States, and been met with a cool reception by US military commanders. But France and Belgium have also announced the withdrawal of some troops from the Afghan theatre, while Canada`s roughly 3,000-strong mission is due to end this week, as allied country keep to wrap up the nearly decade-long war.
De Mistura said the next step will be to ramp up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, to ensure that the country is able to flourish in a climate of relative peace and stability.
“The need of a dialogue is clear,” he said, calling not only for “reconciliation,” but for “reintegration” of rebels have been fighting the government.—AFP