Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a joint proposal to hold a United Nations-led international conference on Afghanistan as he expressed concern about the country’s ongoing instability and insecurity despite large-scale assistance since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
In a letter sent to Mr. Ban last week, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom called on the UN and the Afghan Government to co-chair a ministerial-level international conference that will measure the progress made in Afghan reconstruction and map out how the country can try to develop and stabilize further.
Speaking to reporters today at his monthly press conference, the Secretary-General described the proposal as “timely and appropriate” and said he fully welcomed it.
“I am going to discuss with the leaders of major players in Afghanistan to discuss the exact venue and timing,” he said. “That [the conference] will provide added opportunity and support to the people of Afghanistan.”
In response to a question from journalists, Mr. Ban said it was “a source of concern still, that with massive international assistance and cooperation – militarily, politically and economically – the people of Afghanistan have not been able to see stability, politically as well as in their security.
“We should appreciate the sacrifices and contribution by many troop-contributing countries who have been sacrificing themselves for the peace and security of Afghanistan and also in the region in general.”
He also stressed that whoever is the next Afghan President following last month’s elections, which will have to be seen to be “credible and transparent,” must demonstrate “strong leadership through good governance.”
Turning to neighbouring Pakistan, Mr. Ban confirmed he would attend a meeting next week at UN Headquarters in New York of the group known as the Friends of Democratic Pakistan.
The Secretary-General stressed the UN’s overall commitment to Pakistan, pointing out in particular the widespread humanitarian support provided by the world body to alleviate the situation of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of fighting in the northwest of the country.
“I am encouraged that this summit-level meeting for the Group of [Friends of] Democratic Pakistan will be held on the margins of the General Assembly. Through this meeting, I would sincerely hope that they will find, first of all, political support for President [Asif Ali] Zardari, who has been leading his country under very difficult circumstances.
“They have been fighting against terrorism. They have to establish their socio-economic development. They have to also democratize their country. They need our support at this time. The peace and security in Pakistan has regional implications there and also the fighting against terrorism will also have regional implications: peace and security even in Afghanistan and other regional neighbours.”