Photo taken on May 9, 2021 shows the books of students who were killed in a car bomb attack in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. (Photo by Rahmatullah Alizadah/Xinhua)
A Chinese envoy on Tuesday expressed grave concern over the situation in Afghanistan and asked the international community to help the country overcome the many difficulties.
The current situation in Afghanistan is at a critical crossroads and the country is entering a stage of a new round of uncertainties. It appears that since the U.S. announcement of troops withdrawal in mid-April, the intra-Afghan negotiations have seen setbacks rather than progress. The security situation is deteriorating, and the economic and humanitarian situation has become increasingly precarious, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations.
"China is deeply concerned about this. We need to think hard about what caused the current situation in Afghanistan, and what is the way forward for Afghanistan to achieve durable stability and security in the next stage," he told the Security Council.
The future of Afghanistan should be in the hands of the Afghan people themselves, and the future political arrangement for the country should be decided independently by the Afghans. The international community should follow the principle of Afghan leadership and Afghan ownership, uphold fairness and justice, and contribute more positively to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. No external forces shall be allowed to pursue narrow self-interests in Afghanistan and turn Afghanistan into an arena of a geopolitical game, he said.
All parties in Afghanistan should bear in mind the interests of the country and its people, work together to consolidate the gains in peace and reconstruction achieved in the past 20 years, and explore a governance model and development path that suits Afghanistan's national conditions, said Zhang.
Although the progress in intra-Afghan peace talks has been slow, they should not be allowed to fail. China hopes that all parties in the intra-Afghan peace talks can earnestly build consensus and set up a roadmap and timetable for reconciliation as soon as possible. China welcomes the resumption of contact between the Afghan negotiating team and Taliban delegation in Doha, and hopes that the two sides will resume a new round of negotiations as soon as possible. China stands ready to host an intra-Afghan dialogue at an appropriate time to facilitate and support peace talks, he said.
Peace talks need an enabling environment of peace and stability. At present, violence is prevalent in Afghanistan, with security incidents from February to May increasing by nearly 30 percent in comparison with the same period last year. China condemns all violent attacks against civilians and calls for a cease-fire and an end to violence as soon as possible. China welcomes the short-term cease-fire reached by the Afghan government and the Taliban during Eid al-Fitr and hopes that the two sides will create more favorable conditions to gradually expand the duration and the scope of the cease-fire.
The issue of the withdrawal of foreign troops remains the biggest external factor affecting the situation in Afghanistan for some time to come, said Zhang. "Foreign troops cannot come and go as they wish. China urges foreign forces to withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner, fully consult with the Afghan government on post-withdrawal arrangement, and enhance transparency with countries in the region to prevent the security situation from worsening, or even getting out of control."
Terrorism remains a severe challenge facing Afghanistan and regional countries. All parties should step up their efforts to fight terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State, and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement to prevent the resurgence of terrorist forces. China firmly opposes any politicization of counterterrorism or double standards in this regard, he said.
Lasting peace cannot be achieved without the strong support of development. The international community should continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, help the country engage in regional cooperation, strengthen connectivity, and enhance its capacity for independent development.
There is a need to help Afghanistan implement the national peace and development framework 2021-2025, and solve a series of difficult problems such as drugs, poverty, and refugees. Developed countries should earnestly fulfill their commitments and continue to provide development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, said Zhang.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has played an important role in supporting peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Its mandate expires in September this year. Under the current situation, there is great uncertainty in the future environment of UNAMA. The United Nations should continue to play its role on the Afghan issue. But the effective delivery of mandate cannot be achieved without security guarantees. Regarding the UN presence in Afghanistan after September, China requests the UN secretary-general to propose options for early consideration by the Security Council, he said.
As a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, China has all along actively supported the peace process in Afghanistan and has been making efforts in this regard.
The memorandum of understanding between China and Afghanistan on Belt and Road cooperation is being implemented in an orderly manner. China has so far provided Afghanistan with grant aid worth billions of RMB yuan. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided multiple batches of anti-epidemic supplies and emergency food assistance to Afghanistan. Early this month, 700,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and other medical supplies arrived in Kabul, said Zhang.
China will do its utmost to continue a be a supporter, mediator and facilitator of the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan to help the country achieve peace, stability, development and prosperity at an early date, he said.