Global community should work to remove artificial transit barriers of Afghanistan: India at UN

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11: India at the UN has said that the international community should work towards removal of all artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan, ensuring that all such rights are guaranteed to the war-torn country under bilateral and multilateral agreements without any hindrance.
India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nagaraj Naidu, speaking in the UN General Assembly in support of a resolution on Afghanistan, said it is important for Afghanistan to have access to the high seas for a prosperous future.
“The international community should work towards removal of all artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan and ensure that all transit rights are guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements without any hindrance. We are glad to note that the resolution before us calls upon states to do so,” Naidu said on Thursday.
He also asserted that there needs to be “zero tolerance” for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“It is important to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country. It is also important for the international community to ensure that all states deny terrorist groups sanctuary, freedom of operations, recruitment and financial, material or political support, and that those who do so are held accountable,” Naidu said.
The 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution ‘The situation in Afghanistan’ by a recorded vote of 130 in favour. Russia voted against the resolution while Belarus, China and Pakistan abstained.
India said it was “proud” to co-sponsor the resolution, which reiterates serious concern about the continuing high level of violence and the security situation in Afghanistan and stresses the need to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan caused by the violence committed by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as Al-Qaida, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and their affiliates, in particular ISIL-Khorasan Province, and other terrorist and criminal groups, including those involved in the narcotics trade, and foreign terrorist fighters.
India also voiced deep concern at the high levels of violence in Afghanistan and condemned it in the strongest terms.
“It is important to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan caused by the violence committed by the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Peace process and violence cannot go hand in hand and we call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire,” Naidu said.
Through the resolution, the General Assembly pledged its continued support to the government and people of Afghanistan as they rebuild a stable, secure and economically self-sufficient state, free of terrorism, narcotics, transnational organised crime, including trafficking in persons, and corruption, and strengthen the foundations of a constitutional democracy as a responsible member of the international community.
It also urged further efforts to strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation and welcomed joint efforts to enhance dialogue and collaboration and to advance economic development across the region, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, expanded consular visa cooperation and the facilitation of business travel, expand trade.
It called upon all regional countries to facilitate trade and transit.
In order to tide over the “artificial and political” obstacles of non-permit of full transit rights to Afghanistan for their products to reach India and Indian products to reach Afghanistan, India has operationalised air freight corridors that has seen more than 1,000 flights.
The Indian Ambassador said Afghanistan today is at a “critical stage” and it is “vital” for the international community to send the right message to everyone concerned.
“That was the overarching principle that guided our approach to the negotiations. Nobody seeks peace more than the Afghan people, upon whom war has been imposed for more than four decades,” Naidu said, adding that all opportunities towards bringing peace and stability should be welcomed.
He underscored that the UNGA resolution is a recognition for peace and stability to prevail in Afghanistan, the peace process must not just be inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned but it must be Afghan-controlled.
“Solutions must come from the Afghans themselves and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan must be respected,” Naidu said, adding that the rights of women, minorities and the vulnerable need to be protected.
“Respect for human rights and democracy needs to be ingrained in any framework that a future Afghanistan plans to decide for itself,” he said.
As contiguous neighbours, New Delhi and Kabul share a natural, historical relationship, Naidu said, adding that since 2001, India has invested three billion dollars towards development, reconstruction and capacity building in Afghanistan.
India recently concluded an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shahtoot Dam, which would provide safe drinking water to two million residents of Kabul city.
India will also launch the phase four of high impact community development projects in Afghanistan, which include around 150 projects worth USD 80 million. (PTI)