By Arul Louis
United Nations, Aug 16 (IANS) India threw a challenge to the Taliban on Monday, declaring that it was up to the group to reassure its neighbors by ensuring that Afghanistan has zero tolerance for terrorism.
As Security Council members heard of the violence in Afghanistan where the Taliban has swept to power after 20 years, India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti said: “If there is a zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and it is ensured that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country, then Afghanistan’s neighbours and the region would feel safer.”
He said that “the current situation in Afghanistan has numerous challenges” but it also has “a few opportunities” if it can stop terrorism.
Tirumurti said that “voices of Afghan women, aspirations of Afghan children and the rights of minorities must be respected. A broader representation would help the arrangement gain more acceptability and legitimacy”.
The Security Council meeting was convened by its president India at the request of Estonia and Norway, which have responsibility for Afghanistan in the Council and are known as “pen-holders”, in UN terminology.
The two countries tried to have a statement adopted by the Council, but without success so far in a polarised Council.
Tirumurti said: “As a neighbour of Afghanistan and a friend to its people, the current situation prevailing in the country is of great concern to us in India”.
He warned that “a grave humanitarian crisis is unfolding” in that country where the “security situation remains precarious”.
The Afghan people, he said, “are living under a constant state of fear. They are uncertain about their future. Everyone is concerned about the increasing violations of the fundamental rights of Afghan citizens. Afghans are worried about whether their right to live with dignity would be respected. There are many unanswered questions”.
In a measured response to the situation that he said has changed dramatically since the Council meeting on Afghanistan last week, Tirumurti said: “We hope that the situation stabilises soon, and the parties concerned address the humanitarian and security issues. We also hope that there is an inclusive dispensation which represents all sections of Afghan society.”
Earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “We are receiving chilling reports of severe restrictions on human rights throughout the country. I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days.”
He appealed to the Council and to the international community “to stand together, to work together”.
“All of us have seen the images in real-time. Chaos. Unrest. Uncertainty. And fear.”
“At this grave hour, I urge all parties, especially the Taliban, to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” he added.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)
By Arul Louis