UNSC demand zero tolerance for terrorism, political settlement in Afghanistan: Tirumurti

United Nations, Aug 17 (IANS) The UN Security Council members demand zero tolerance for terrorism in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and require a political settlement for the regime to be recognised, India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti said on Monday.

Addressing reporters outside the Council chamber after presiding over an emergency meeting on Afghanistan, he said that the session heard “the sentiments among the council members on zero tolerance for terrorism, and the Secretary General (Antonio Guterres) unequivocally underlined this important aspect”.

With deft diplomacy, Tirumurti was able to steer the deeply polarised Council to an agreement on a statement formally setting out its stand on post-Taliban Afghanistan.

The negotiations on the statement that sets minimal requirements for the Taliban, with what would be considered innocuous anywhere else, dragged on for nearly five days after Norway and Estonia circulated the first draft.

Summing up the highlights of the meeting, Tirumurti said the members “reaffirmed the fact that we need immediate cessation of hostilities, and violence”.

As for recognition of Afghanistan’s new regime, he said the precondition was “a political settlement”.

“And that political settlement should fully respect the human rights of women, children, and minorities,” he said.

Tirumurti, who convened the meeting at the request of Norway and Estonia who have responsibility for Afghanistan matters, hinted at the difficulties he faced in getting an agreement on the statement.

“Discussions are on to see how best we can address some of the issues in the press statement. And we do sincerely hope that this will come out sooner rather than later,” he said.

Tirumurti finally succeeded in getting an agreement on the press statement.

The statement, released later, called for “an immediate end to the violence in Afghanistan, the restoration of security, civil and constitutional order, and urgent talks to resolve the current crisis of authority in the country and to arrive at a peaceful settlement through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation”.

The Council “reaffirmed the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan to ensure the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any country, and that neither the Taliban nor any other Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country”, according to the statement.

It also called for “the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative – including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women”. It underlined that institutional continuity and adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, as well as the safety and security of all Afghan and international citizens, must be ensured.

It also said that the UN and other humanitarian agencies and organisations should be allowed to provide assistance across conflict lines to all in need.

Speaking to reporters after addressing the Council, Guterres also emphasised eliminating terror in Afghanistan.

“We want terrorism not to have any more a safe haven in Afghanistan,” he said.

For that and other objectives like protection of human rights, especially of women, he said: “We need the unity of the Security Council, the unity of the international community, to be able to speak with one single voice.”