UN asks Afghanistan to tackle threats posed by terror groups

United Nations: A UNSC resolution has called on Afghanistan to tackle the “threats” posed by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS affiliates and other terrorist groups which threaten the security and stability of the war-torn country.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on Friday extended the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan until March 17, 2018, and expressed serious concern at the presence and potential growth of ISIS affiliates in the country.

The 15-member council reiterated its support for the Afghan government, and in particular to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, “in securing their country and in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

It called on the Afghan government, with international assistance, to continue tackling “threat posed by the Taliban as well as by al-Qaeda, ISIS affiliates and other terrorist groups.”

Stressing the political mission’s role in supporting an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, it welcomed current efforts to strengthen regional connectivity and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours, citing the example of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and the Chabahar port project between Afghanistan, India and Iran.

The TAPI project, which has a preliminary cost estimate of USD 10 billion, aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year through a proposed approximately 1,800-kilometre (km) pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The port of Chabahar is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean. India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed the trilateral contract for the establishment of a transport and transit corridor among the three countries.

It also urged further efforts to strengthen regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is an overland route running through Central Asia, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will traverse the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

The resolution also called for strengthening efforts such as bilateral transit trade agreements, expanded consular visa cooperation and facilitation of business travel, to expand trade, increase foreign investments and develop infrastructure with a view to promoting sustainable economic growth and the creation of jobs in Afghanistan and the region.

On the human rights front, the UNSC requested continued support efforts to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, and reiterated the importance of accelerating the establishment of a fair and transparent justice system. In that vein, the council emphasised the importance of ensuring access for relevant organisations to all prisons and places of detention in Afghanistan.