By Arul Louis,
United Nations : Afghanistan has welcomed the rising international pressure on the counter-terrorism front against Pakistan including its recent listing on a terrorism financing watch list and the United States withholding aid.
“We hope that this trend continues and the response to these measures is positive in the interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region,” Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Mahmoud Saikal told the Security Council on Thursday.
“Of late, we have seen new measures at the international level to shift the calculus and promote genuine and productive counter-terrorism cooperation,” he said.
He diplomatically did not name Pakistan but the reference was clear.
“Recent decisions including the reduction of financial aid to the concerned State, and inclusion in the watch list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) represent a renewed attempt to encourage genuine action on the crucially important goal of defeating terrorism effectively,” Saikal said.
Last month Washington persuaded the members of FATF to reinstate Pakistan on its “grey list” of nations that are monitored for not acting adequately to stop terrorist financing and money laundering.
In January US President Donald Trump ordered withholding military aid and payments estimated at $1.2 billion to Islamabad because of its support for terrorist organisations.
Trump had accused it of giving safe havens to the terrorists that “we hunt in Afghanistan” and practising “lies and deceit.”
Saikal denounced the attacks in January by “Taliban’s Haqqani network” on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that killed 18, including 14 foreigners, and on Save the Children NGO in Jalalabad in which 27 people died, and the detonation of an explosive-laden ambulance near a major hospital in the heart of Kabul killing at least 105 civilians.
“The sheer level of savagery in these despicable and heinous attacks was startling,” he said.
Despite all this, Saikal said President Ashraf Ghani made the “unprecedented” offer of direct talks to the Taliban without preconditions.
“Should our call receive a positive response, they will be granted the chance to become normal citizens, allowed to compete peacefully in politics through democratic procedures, be relieved from UNSC sanctions measures, besides enjoying the benefits of other positive measures,” he said. “In turn, they have to give up on their long-standing path of violence.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)