Afghan soil shouldn’t be used to shelter terrorists, says UNSC resolution
The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Afghan soil shouldn’t be used to attack any country or to shelter terrorists even as American forces completed their drawdown in Afghanistan a fortnight after the Taliban takeover.
In a resolution adopted at the end of India’s presidency of the Security Council for the month of August, the UN’s highest body reiterated the importance of combating terror in Afghanistan, including individuals and entities sanctioned under UN Resolution 1267 and pointed to the Taliban’s commitments in this regard.
Hours after the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from the Kabul airport and ended its 20-year presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban contended the country had “gained full independence”. Despite the Taliban’s public announcements about a general amnesty, there have been numerous reports of summary executions and human rights violations from across the country.
A number of terrorist leaders, including those with links to al-Qaeda, have resurfaced in Afghanistan. India’s greatest security concern is the presence in Afghanistan of up to 10,000 fighters from Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The UN Security Council resolution demanded “that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts, and reiterates the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, including those individuals and entities designated pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), and notes the Taliban’s relevant commitments”.
Speaking shortly after the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, secretary of state Antony Blinken said Washington will remain focused on counter-terrorism.
“The Taliban has made a commitment to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the US or our allies, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban’s sworn enemy, ISIS-K...We will hold them accountable to that commitment,” he said.
“But while we have expectations of the Taliban, that doesn’t mean we will rely on the Taliban. We’ll remain vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves. And we’ll maintain robust counter-terrorism capabilities in the region to neutralise those threats, if necessary...,” Blinken said without offering details.
Blinken said the US had engaged with the Taliban over the past few weeks to enable evacuation operations, and any future engagement with a Taliban-led government in Kabul will be “driven by one thing only: our vital national interests”.
The US will work with a new Afghan government to ensure greater stability in the country and region and protect the gains of the past two decades. “But we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith,” Blinken said. “The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is: any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned.”
The Security Council also pointed to a Taliban statement of August 27 in which the group made a commitment that Afghans will be able to travel abroad, leave the country at any time they want to via any border crossing “with no one preventing them from travelling”, and said it expects the Taliban “will adhere to these and all other commitments, including regarding the safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals”.
The council noted the “dangerous security situation” around the Kabul airport and expressed concern that “intelligence indicates further terrorist attacks may take place in the area”. It called on relevant parties to work with global partners to strengthen security and prevent further casualties.
It also requested that steps should be taken for the “rapid and secure reopening of the Kabul airport and its surrounding area” – a significant demand since nationals of several countries, including India and the US, are still believed to be in Kabul.
The UN Security Council reaffirmed its commitment to the “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of Afghanistan”, and condemned the “deplorable attacks” near Kabul airport on August 26 that were claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan and resulted in deaths and injuries of more than 300 civilians and 28 military personnel.
The council also highlighted the importance of upholding human rights, including those of women, children and minorities, and called on all parties in Afghanistan to “seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, that responds to the desire of Afghans to sustain and build on Afghanistan’s gains over the last twenty years”.
Blinken said a “new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun” with the drawdown of US forces. He added, “It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun.”
After ending its diplomatic presence in Kabul, the US has built a new team to lead the diplomatic mission from Doha in Qatar, which has served as the venue for negotiations between the US and the Taliban in recent years. The US team in Doha will be led by Ian McCary, the deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan for the past year.
“For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan, including consular affairs, administering humanitarian assistance, and working with allies, partners and regional and international stakeholders to coordinate our engagement and messaging to the Taliban,” Blinken said.