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Any leniency on sanctions against Taliban will be counter-productive to peace process: Afghanistan

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United Nations:  Afghanistan has said that the Taliban have increased their levels of violence and continued relationship with global terror groups, asserting that any leniency on the sanctions against the insurgent outfit, without real progress and reciprocity from them, will be counter-productive and detrimental to the peace negotiations.

Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Adela Raz, speaking at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the ‘Situation in Afghanistan’ on Thursday, said that the work of the Monitoring Team assisting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee is invaluable in tracking the Taliban’s activities, especially in overseeing the fulfillment of their commitments for peace, including their pledge to end all relations with Al-Qaeda and all other terrorist groups.

“We need to make sure that these commitments are reflected in the Taliban’s actions and that the Taliban are not engaged in any terrorist activity and are not working with or supporting any international terrorist group,” she said.

Raz added that unfortunately, this is not the case and the reports from Afghan security and intelligence agencies, as well as the Monitoring Team state otherwise.

“The Taliban have increased their levels of violence and continued their relationship with international terrorist groups. As such, any leniency and flexibility on the sanctions against the Taliban, without real progress and reciprocity from them, will be counter-productive and detrimental to the peace negotiations,” she said.

The Security Council has extended the mandate of the Monitoring Team assisting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for another year.

Last week, the 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution ‘The situation in Afghanistan’ by a recorded vote of 130 in favour. Russia voted against the resolution while Belarus, China and Pakistan abstained.

Through the resolution, the General Assembly pledged its continued support to the government and people of Afghanistan as they rebuild a stable, secure and economically self-sufficient State, free of terrorism, narcotics, transnational organised crime, including trafficking in persons, and corruption, and strengthen the foundations of a constitutional democracy as a responsible member of the international community.

Raz said it was a landmark resolution in underlining the immediate need for a permanent ceasefire and support for the desire and wishes of every Afghan, a long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

“These commitments are of particular importance in the overall progress of the peace process, but the international community must remain vigilant on the direct role that it plays. Particularly, I would like to highlight the imperative of caution in making any changes to the existing sanction mechanisms on the Taliban. These mechanisms should be seen not as incentives for peace, but rather as reflections on the realities on the ground,” she added.

Raz noted that as clearly outlined in the Secretary-General’s Report, the security situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile for civilians. Despite progress towards peace, the situation is indeed “worsening”.

The Report of the Secretary-General notes 10,439 security-related incidents during the reporting period, representing an 18 per cent increase against the same period in 2019.

Raz said it must further be stressed that “anti-government” elements conducted 92 per cent of all security related incidents and 95 per cent of armed clashes.

“The Taliban are engaging in targeted killings, attacks against public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and bridges and have deliberately used people as human shields – actions that are in clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. This is unacceptable and reinforces the urgency of the government’s call and Secretary General’s call, for a comprehensive and immediate ceasefire,” she said.

Recent high-profile attacks have shown the lack of humanity that is exhibited by terrorist groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, she said, adding that young men and women should not have to wake up with the fear of losing their lives while working to achieve their dreams for a better future.

She said that the increased violence by the Taliban is happening amidst the worst humanitarian crisis in decades, driven by violence, natural disasters, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing the latest Global Humanitarian Overview, she said 18.4 million Afghans are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

“The Afghan government is fully committed to doing everything within its limited resources to address the needs of every girl, boy, woman, and man within our borders. We ask the international community to help us overcome these challenges and fully fund the Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan, requiring 1.3 billion dollars,” she said.

Raz said peace discussions in Doha have continued positively as reflected by the recent agreement on principles and procedures that will guide the peace negotiations.          Talks will resume on January 5 and the government is ready to start discussions on agenda items, she added.

UN Special Representative Deborah Lyons, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, told the virtual meeting of the Security Council that “unrelenting violence” in Afghanistan continues to put lasting peace at risk and that violence will be a top priority when the peace talks resume in early January.

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