UNSG expresses solidarity with Afghanistan, backs peace process

 Thu 15 Jun 2017

KABUL (SW): The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed solidarity with the Afghan people – backing an Afghan-led peace process and supporting the communities most affected by the conflict.

Guterres concluded his one-day trip to the Afghan capital on Wednesday. Upon his arrival in Kabul a day earlier, he met with some of the 800,000 Afghans displaced by conflict over the last 18 months. “All those that are related to the Afghan crisis should come together to understand that this is a war that has no military solution, that we need to have a political solution. We need to have peace,” he said in his initial statement.

Since his time as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015), Guterres has been paying a solidarity visit to Muslim communities during the holy month of Ramadan, and his visit to Afghanistan was a continuation of his expression of solidarity with them. While in Kabul, the UN chief met with displaced men and women from the Kapisa province, now living in a settlement on the outskirts of Kabul.

In their interaction, the displaced persons underscored that security remained the prerequisite for their return to their homes and that education, including for women and girls was critical for supporting themselves and their families. They also stressed their need for medical care.

Later in the day, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani hosted Guterres at the Arg (Presidential palace). Ghani told Guterres about his meeting last week with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Kazakhstan where the two leaders agreed to use the platform of the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG) -- the U.S., China, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- for peace in the conflict-riddled country. Accusing Pakistan of harboring terrorists, Kabul has long blamed Islamabad for an “undeclared war” against Afghanistan.

The UN chief also met with Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive officer of the national unity government in Kabul. Abdullah spoke more bluntly about Pakistan. “At the regional level, Afghanistan’s main problem is with Pakistan,” he said, asking Guterres to convince Pakistan to support the peace process in Afghanistan, and stop supporting and arming armed rebel groups.

Guterres expressed hope the United Nations General Assembly next week will approve a new counter terrorism-structure, which he said would enable the UN to effectively support member countries against terrorism. “My message to any country that supports terrorism anywhere in the world is that this is the wrong thing to do,” he said. Expressing solidarity with Afghan people, in the wake of recent violence in the country, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the Organization's full commitment to work with the Government and people of the country to build a sustainable and prosperous future for them.