Ties between Taliban and foreign fighters ‘remain close’: India’s UN representative TS Tirumurti
United Nations: India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti, who heads the Security Council’s Taliban Sanctions Committee, has warned that the ties between the Taliban and foreign terrorist fighters “remain close.”
Briefing the Council on Wednesday as the committee’s chair, he said that its monitoring team had reported “that the ties between the Taliban largely through the Haqqani Network, and the al Qaeda and foreign terrorist fighters remain close and are based on ideological alignment and relationships forged through common struggle and intermarriage.”
“The continued presence of ISIL (Islamic State torror group) and its activities in Afghanistan remains a matter of our concern,” he added.
“Terrorists attacks have become despicable acts used by this terrorist organisation to demonstrate its power and influence in the country and abroad,” he said.
Later switching roles and addressing the Council on behalf of India, he said, “Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to Afghanistan and to the region.”
The concern was shared by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who said, “Terrorism remains a constant threat – not only to the security of Afghanistan, but to the entire world.”
His Special Representative Deborah Lyons, who heads the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan, also in her briefing to the Council voiced concern that the “existence of numerous terrorist groups in Afghanistan remains a broad international and, especially, regional concern.”
She said that “there must be more meaningful actions behind the Taliban’s promise to contain terrorist groups in Afghanistan.”
The Council resolution adopted in August shortly after the Taliban took control of Kabul requires it to “not to allow the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism” and it noted the Taliban’s commitment to it, Tirumurti said speaking in his capacity as India’s representatve.
“However, we need to see concrete progress in ensuring that such proscribed terrorist entities do not get any support, tacit or direct, either from Afghan soil or from the terrorist sanctuaries based in the region,” he said.
The mention of sanctuaries was a reference to Pakistan that has been sheltering various terrorist organisations and their leaders operating across the border.
Naseer Faiq, a minister counsellor in Afghanistan’s UN mission, in his speech to the Council thanked Tirumurti for his role as the head of the Council’s Sanctions Committee overseeing the implementation of the sanctions on the Taliban.
China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun in a show of diplomatic courtesy thanked Tirumurti for the briefing.
Guterres described the conditions for the Afghan people as a “frozen hell” and said that since the Taliban takeover, “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread.”
He appealed for aid for Afghanistan separating the humanitarian catastrophe from the political issues of Taliban governance, and said the international community should put its “hands on the wheel of progress, provide resources, and prevent Afghanistan from spiraling any further.”
Speaking as the chair of the committee that oversees sanctions imposed by the Council, Tirumurti pointed out that the Council has decided that provision of humanitarian assistance is not a violation of the sanctions and neither are processing payment of funds, using other financial assets, and proviiding goods and services necessary to deliver such aid.
But he also cautioned that according to the UN over 30 members of the Taliban on the list of sanctioned terrorists now occupy senior cabinet positions in Afghanistan.
Therefore, he said, humanitarian aid providers should use reasonable efforts to minimise the chances of aid benefiting them directly or through diversions to sanctioned individuals or entities.
And later switching to the role of New Delhi’s representative, Tirumurti said, “As Afghanistan’s largest regional development partner, India is willing to coordinate with other stakeholders to work towards enabling expeditious provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.”
He said that India has already delivered three shipments of medical supplies and Covid-19 medicines to the World Health Organisation and the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul.
India was also offering 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Afghanistan.
He said that India was committed to providing 50,000 tonnes of wheat to that country but did not mention the difficulties it faces in sending the direly needed food supplies.
Islamabad has thwarted India’s request to send the wheat through through Pakistan, the shortest route to the landlocked country, by putting several conditions that would effectively give it control over the supplies.
India reportedly has received an offer from Iran to send the wheat by sea to the Chabahar port, from where it would be sent to Afghanistan as in the past.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment towards humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” Tirumurti said.
Both Guterres and Lyons spoke of the dire human rights situation in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Lyons said, “Here on the ground there is compelling evidence of an emerging environment of intimidation and a deterioration in respect for human rights.”
“We continue to receive credible allegations of killings, enforced disappearances, and other violations that are not being addressed by the judiciary. In addition, we are seeing a growing number of detentions of political opponents, civil society representatives and those who voice dissent,” she said.
Guterres focused on the plight of women and girls, who he said are “once again being denied their rights to education, employment and equal justice.”
“This is a tragedy for those women and girls who grew up believing that any dream was within reach, and now helplessly watching those dreams slip away,” he said.