Press Releases

    20 September 2002


    Afghans Expect Real Improvement in Their Lives, He Says

    NEW YORK, 19 September (UN Headquarters) -- Afghanistan had come a long way, but would not realize President Hamid Karzai's vision of a stable, rebuilt and democratic country without the committed, sustained and generous support of the international community, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the Security Council this morning.

    Briefing the Council on the situation in the country, he said Afghans expected real improvement in their daily lives. The legitimacy of the Transitional Administration would depend on its ability to address the most pressing security and recovery needs. Should it fail, fragmentation, extremism, foreign involvement and violence would most likely resume.

    He said the Transitional Administration did not have the resources either for its basic budget or for the major infrastructure projects that could create jobs, improve economic prospects and facilitate foreign investment. The cost of international assistance in that effort might be high, but it was the price of peace and stability, he stressed.

    Noting that security remained the most serious challenge facing the country today, he said there was much concern over the inability to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Afghanistan did not have a national army or police, and it would take time to build both. Before the end of the year, the country should have an achievable agenda to build a national army and police force. That would require the demobilization of the various armed elements and their reintegration into civilian society, as well as the training and induction of new elements. It would also require the reorganization of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior and the Intelligence Services.

    He said that the first two months of the Transitional Administration had seen a proliferation of local conflicts and violence, and that the United Nations had been the direct target of terrorist acts on three separate occasions. Those incidents were of concern, as was the continuing violence across the country. But despite recent sporadic and localized clashes in several parts of the country, the situation was now calmer than it had been in previous weeks. Tensions had been particularly acute in the north and the south-east, but there had been positive developments in those troublesome areas. The two main rival factions in the north, Jamiat and Jumbesh, had agreed to establish a joint force to tackle violence and instability. In the south-east, Pacha Kihan Zadran, who had declared his opposition to President Karzai, had been forced out of Khost.

    Given the many difficulties strewn along the path to the restoration of security and prosperity, the international community should show neither panic nor complacency, he said. The people had shown great patience and enthusiasm throughout the Loya Jirga process in spite of uncertainty about security and economic hardships. The success of the Loya Jirga process might have bred some complacency and a sense that the peace process could be achieved at low cost to the international community, but the attempt on President Karzai's life, the recent car bombing in Kabul and the expressions of frustration among ordinary Afghans concerning recovery should be a wake-up call, Mr. Brahimi said.

    Regarding the mass grave found in Dasht-e-Leily, he said it was fairly certain that a large number of people had died under suspicious circumstances, but leaders of the northern region had rejected allegations that Taliban prisoners had suffocated in containers as they were being transported to prison, and had expressed their willingness to cooperate with investigations by impartial experts. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's human rights team was seeking further information, and the Transitional Administration as well as the Afghan Human Rights Commission had agreed to investigations at several sites. However, ensuring the security of potential witnesses and the investigating teams, though of paramount importance, was by no means certain as things stood at the moment.

    He said the $180 million aid package announced by the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia last week, as well as the European Union’s pledge to rehabilitate the Kabul-Jalalabad road, were heartening. But most international assistance was still humanitarian, which, while necessary, was not sufficient for peace. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were needed to sustain Afghans in the country as well as those returning, to achieve comprehensive disarmament and reintegration and to offer viable alternatives to poppy cultivation.

    Calling for the linking of various aid priorities, as the World Bank had done with its Solidarity Programme cash-for-work projects to build essential infrastructure, he said assistance was also urgently needed for the introduction of a new currency that, if all went well, would begin early next month, with the help of the United Nations.

    The Organization, he went on, was also committed to assisting the Government in developing the National Development Framework and the National Budget in the coming month. Ministers were already setting their priorities. That of the Minister for Education, for example, was roofs, textbooks and chairs. The United Nations was working with the Afghan cabinet to accelerate the development and decentralization of the Government and to increase its efficiency. It was also working with government institutions to develop their information and monitoring capabilities as well as other functions that the Organization had been performing on its own.

    Today's meeting, which began at 10:46 a.m., adjourned at 11:14 a.m.

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