U.N. calls for broad-based Afghan government
05:47 p.m Mar 17, 1999 Eastern
UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council members called on Wednesday for a broad-based Afghan government that respects the rights of women, girls and minorities and prevents the use of its territory by terrorists.
A statement read to reporters by council President Qin Huasun of China welcomed as ``a step in the right direction'' talks held from March 11 to 14 at Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, between representatives of the Islamist Taleban who control most of Afghanistan and members of an opposition coalition.
The statement, issued after a closed-door briefing, said council members hoped that negotiations would continue ``in order to achieve agreement on specific questions relating to an intra-Afghan settlement.''
It specifically called for agreement on a ceasefire and the creation of a broad-based and fully representative government acceptable to all Afghans.
The statement said that government would ``ensure national concord and harmony, good governance, compliance with universally recognised norms of international law and human rights, in particular the rights of ethnic minorities, and women and girls, effectiveness in combating drug trafficking, and the non-use of Afghan territory to carry out terrorism.''
The Taleban has been accused of discriminating against women and girls by preventing them from working outside the home, denying them medical treatment if separate female facilities are not available and beating them for violating a strict dress code.
Council members reaffirmed their support for U.N. efforts, particularly by Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to promote a political settlement in the long-running Afghan conflict on the basis of U.N. resolutions.
The statement also welcomed Annan's intention to calibrate the gradual limited return of U.N. staff to Afghanistan in accordance with the security situation.
The United Nations announced last Friday that staff who were withdrawn in August 1998 would begin returning after receiving security assurances that included promises of protection from Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden.
The United States, which has indicted bin Laden on charges of plotting the bombing of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, lauched missiles against bases in Afghanistan alleged to have been used by his followers.
Security Council salutes Afghan peace deal
Thu 18 Mar 99 - 01:09 GMT
UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Wednesday hailed a power sharing agreement between Afghanistan's Taliban militia and opposition, calling it "a step in the right direction."
Meeting Sunday in neighboring Turkmenistan, the dominant Taliban militia, which controls about 80 percent of the country, and the opposition northern alliance agreed to create a government of unity, swap prisoners-of-war and continue peace talks to forge a definitive truce.
Council members said they hope negotiations will continue an result in "a broad-based and fully representative government acceptable to all Afghans," Chinese ambassador Qin Huasun told reporters here.
They also said they hoped such a government would respect international law on human rights, including ethnic minorities, women and girls, Qin said after a closed door council meeting.
Since seizing the Afghan capital of Kabul in September 1996, the Taliban militia have imposed their hardline brand of Islam and Islamic Shariah law on areas they control.
On Wednesday the council said it welcomed the decision of UN General Secretary Kofi Annan to authorize the progressive return of UN personnel to the country, after an absence of almost seven months.
The first UN staff began to arrive in Kabul Sunday, after the Taliban gave security guarantees to the world body.
Afghan rivals to meet in Kabul next month
ISLAMABAD, March 16. The United Nations official, who sat at the intra-Afghan peace talks in Ashkabad last week, on Tuesday expressed the hope that the interlocutors would meet in Kabul in April to resume discussions to take forward the peace process.
He offered the UN compound as "neutral territory within Afghanistan" for venue of next round, should the Afghan parties desired.
Edward Tesoriere, acting head of the UN special mission to Afghanistan, speaking at a news conference at his office here, was elaborating on the high points of the talks. He said the interlocutors, the Taliban militia and their rival northern alliance, claimed to speak with the full authority as the respective delegations of "the State of Afghanistan" and "the Emirates of Afghanistan".
The former represented the ruling Taliban Islamic government in Kabul while the later was representing the dislodged United Front government under Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani.
At the end of the talks last week, the two sides issued a joint communique stating agreement to swap of 20 prisoners from either side, formation of shared executive, legislature and judiciary, continuation of the talks at a later date preferably in Afghanistan and implementation of the decisions already taken.
Replying to questions the UN mission chief said he believed that the prospects of peace in Afghanistan at present outweighed the possibilities of any escalation in fighting between the rival forces which remained at a low level because of the winter snowfall still on the hills. He evaded a question whether the current talks could get derailed as it happened quite often in the past.
He however, admitted that the issue of an agreement on the cease-fire did come up at Ashkabad talks but had not reached any conclusion. It was agreed among the interlocutors that the present level of conflict posed no threat but the cease-fire agreement might be included as part of peace package at finalization.
Expressing his optimism, Mr Tesoriere observed "All Afghans are always ready to pick up arms if need be. But what they made clear was that they were ready (this time) to pick up arms for peace".
Recalling from the mutually agreed points the Afghan negotiators willingness "to form a shared executive, a shared legislature and a shared judiciary", the UN official claimed that they were "focussed on taking forward this peace process".
He said that the Afghan parties welcomed the cohesion and consensus, they found developing in the neighbouring countries and even those far away, in favour of a negotiated peace settlement.
The UN official emphasized that the entire Ashkabad peace process was being conducted by the Afghans themselves and as such it could be aptly described as "inter-Afghan talks or what one might say, organic farming".
However, he acknowledged, a good deal of support and encouragement had been available for the intra-Afghan peace process from a range of nations and international organizations.
Afghan body demands security against terrorists
Frontier Post Report
PESHAWAR - The executive body of the Council of Understanding and National Unity of Afghanistan (CUNUA) arranged an emergency meeting on Sunday here at Hayatabad. The meeting expressed shock and anguish over the murder of Haji Sarfaraz Khan's sons who fell. Victim to a terrorist attack in their house in Hayatabad last Thursday. The Council of Understanding and National Unity of Afghanistan condemned this brutal act of terrorism and urged the government to arrest the culprits and bring them to justice. The meeting noted with utmost regret that prominent members of the family were tortured and murdered. They said that such brutalities were inflicted upon them because they had demanded peace in Afghanistan. This was indeed unfortunate to say that the CUNUA had lost its most active members, including the parliamentarians in the past, but the authorities in Pakistan had turned a deaf ears to all such happenings, the meeting deplored. In view of the most alarming situation the Council of Understanding and National Unity of Afghanistan appealed to the government to ensure the security of Afghans, especially to the prominent members of CUNUA residing in Peshawar
UN Envoy Heads for Tajikistan to Discuss Afghan Settlement
DUSHANBE, March 17 (Itar-Tass) - The U.N. Secretary-general's special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi said he intends to have talks with the Tajik leadership to discuss the settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan and the situation in that country after the Ashkhabad agreements.
Brahimi, who is touring Central Asian countries, is expected to arrive in Dushanbe on Thursday morning from Tashkent.
Diplomatic sources in Dushanbe told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that Brahimi will have talks with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov and the U.N. Secretary-general's special envoy to Tajikistan Jan Kubis.
Brahimi will bring them up to date on the results of the second round of talks between Taleban and the Northern Alliance held in Ashkhabad in February and March under the U.N. Auspices.
The Tajik Foreign Minister press and information department told Itar-Tass that the country's political leadership welcomed the Ashkhabad agreements and confirmed its commitment to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Tajikistan reiterated its readiness to provide support for and practical assistance in the development of the peace political dialogue between the warring factions.
afghanistan, still a source of concern: paper
tehran, march 17, irna -- the english daily 'tehran times' wednesday criticizing taliban for denying the recent agreement reached with the northern alliance, urged the u.n. to listen to the desperate call of the afghan people for a speedy solution to their imbroglio and leave no stone unturned to restore peace to that country. the daily was referring to a recent news bulletin of iran's state television that taliban had denied an earlier report that they had reached agreement with the northern alliance on vital issues such as power sharing. taliban's denial of any agreement with their rivals has now prompted the observers to believe that the taliban, by putting up a peaceful front and taking part in ashkhabad meeting, simply intended to boost their international image and pave the way for their international recognition, added the article in the opinion column of the paper. stating that the oppressed afghan people are fed up with the status quo in the country, the daily stressed, ''the international community, especially the u.n. should no longer allow the present situation to continue in afghanistan, for the innocent afghans are almost on the brink of the worst human disaster.''
Hekmatyar says Asghabat agreement may create ethnic division
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Former Afghan Prime Minister and chief of opposition Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), Engineer Gulbadin Hekmatyar has feared division of Afghanistan on ethnic lines if any ethnic based set up as proposed in Asghabat agreement was introduced.
"Formation of coalition government on the grounds of nationalities rather than parties would pose threat to Afghanistans integrity and would lead to division in the country," Hekmatyar said.
Talking to NNI on phone from Tehran the Hizb leader expressed surprise over the statements of Younas Qanooni and Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil that the two sides have agreed to share power on ethnic bases.
After four-day of hectic talks in Ashgabat, Afghanistans dominant Taliban and their rivals agreed on Sunday to form a coalition government, exchange prisoners and put an end to fighting.
They also agreed to form a shared executive, shared legislature and shared judiciary. They will hold the next round of talks preferably inside Afghanistan at the mutually agreed venue after Eidul Azha.
"We pray for an end to war and want the warring factions to prefer talks on fighting. We wish them a success to resolve the differences though talk. But I do not think that the two parties would so easily arrive at a consensus," the HIA leader said.
He said if the warring factions lay down arms, avoid war, refrain from fighting for the interests of others and resolve their problems without involving others, it is a good thing and the Hizb supports it. "But keeping in view the situation, I do not think they would immediately reach a consensus".
"Once nationalities are involved, then what would be the fate of parties, which are advocating territorial integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan," he questioned. The agreement would serve no purpose but would further complicate the already existed situation, Hekmatyar observed.
"Who will nominate members for the executive, legislature and judiciary and what would be the procedure of nomination," the HIA leader questioned. He said the two sides should realize that there is problem of nationalities in Afghanistan and floating the idea of government on ethnic grounds would pave way for more problems.
He pointed out contradictions in the positions of the two sides saying that on one hand the northern alliance wants to have a considerable share in the government and terms it a just solution of the conflict. On the other Taliban are not interested in the formations of a coalition government as they have been terming it contrary to their principles, he said.
Japan welcomes development in Afghanistan
TOKYO (NNI): Japanese Foreign Minister Mashiro Koumura has termed the reported Ashgabat agreement between Taliban and anti-Taliban factions in Afghanistan on forming a coalition government an important step for realization of peace in that country.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, the minister said the Government of Japan welcomes this development and earnestly hopes that the Afghan factions will accelerate the negotiations, and intends to continue to encourage these factions toward the realization of peace, he said.
The Government of Japan, the minister said, has already announced its intention to host a conference inviting various factions for the reconciliation of the Afghan races, and wants to make it clear that it is ready to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.
However press report on Tuesday quoted Taliban leaders as having denied that any agreement on sharing of power had taken place. They were reported as saying that they agreed only to continue the talks.
France calls for continuation of Afghan peace process
PARIS (NNI): A spokesperson of the French Foreign Ministry has said that the meeting between representatives of the Taliban and the opposition in Ashgabat has produced some gains which go in the right direction.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, the spokesman said the process began at Ashgabat must now be continued with a view to the formation of a broadly representative government, which is the only way to restore lasting peace in this country.
Ashgabat talks kick off Afghan peace process: UN envoy
ISLAMABAD (NNI): The acting head of the United Nations Peace Mission to Afghanistan Andrew Tesoriere Tuesday said the Ashgabat talks between Afghan rival groups has kicked off a peace process that will continue.
Sounding optimistic about the outcome of the talks Tesoriere advocated that the two sides should be given time to think about the implementation of the agreement.
"I do not foresee that the agreement will fall apart," the UNSMA chief told a news conference. He said leaders of the two negotiation teams spoke to each other with full authority and support from their leadership.
Afghanistans ruling Taliban and their rivals struck a landmark agreement in the Turkmen capital on Sunday to form a coalition government, exchange prisoners and put an end to fighting after four-day of hectic talks.
Both sides also agreed to form a shared executive, a shared legislature and a shared judiciary.
"We should give more time to the two sides to think over the implementation of the agreement, Teroriere said. He hoped that the next round of talks would be held in April preferably inside Afghanistan as were agreed upon by the two sides in Ashgabat talks.
The two sides agreed to hold the next round of talks preferably inside Afghanistan at the mutually agreed venue as soon as practicable. They also agreed to release 20 prisoners each as soon as possible through the ICRC and continue talks in order to address the rest of the issues and to implement the decisions already reached.
Tesoriere offered the UN premises as neutral territory for the next round of talks inside Afghanistan. "We have full confidence of the two sides and we would continue to facilitate the peace process," he said.
Asked as to what would be the fate of other Afghan groups after the agreement reached between Taliban and Ahmed Shah Masood, the UN envoy said the talks were not between the two groups but Taliban represented Afghan Islamic Emirate while the other side represented the Islamic State of Afghanistan.
Replying to a question about the possibility of eruption of war, he does not rule out the possibility but said, "I can not speculate on their intentions".
Asked if Taliban agreed to share power with their rivals, he said the two sides did not use the word power sharing and what he understood is sharing of institutions.
Responding to a question as to why Taliban and their rivals failed to strike a cease-fire agreement, he said although the two sides could not sign the cease-fire agreement but they committed themselves to the resumption of talks.
When his attention was drawn towards the statement of former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar that power sharing on ethnic grounds would lead to Afghanistans division, the UN envoy said the two sides discussed the issue in details and they agreed on further discussions on the issue.
Head of the UN peace mission welcomed the support by the world community and neighbouring countries for the UN peace efforts.
UN Human Rights monitor embarks on Afghanistans tour
ISLAMABAD (NNI): A senior UN human rights official Tuesday embarked on two-day visit to Afghanistan to review the human rights situation in the war-shattered country, UN officials said.
Kamal Hossain, special rapporteur of the United Nations Commission of Human Rights, who arrived in Islamabad on Monday, for talks with Taliban officials and monitor the working environment for the humanitarian mission of the UN staffers and the NGOs in Afghanistan.
"The visiting dignitary will interview UN staffers and monitor NGOs huimanitarian operation there," a UN statement said. This is Dr. Hossains first visit to Afghanistan as Special Rapporteur. He will meet various officials in Kabul as well as staff of the United Nations and NGOs. He will also hold discussions with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, as well as refugee and other groups in Peshawar.
This visit comes in the context of the Special Rapporteurs mandate under the last year resolution of the Human Rights Commission. In accordance with that Resolution, the Special Rapporteur will submit a report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-fifth session in April 1999.
Dr. Hossain has undertaken his current duties after a long and distinguished career in his native Bangladesh where he has been actively involved in jurisprudence and parliamentary work. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh from 9173 to 1975. More recently, he has been Chairman of the Committee on Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development of the International Law Commission and a Board Member of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Montreal, Canada.
Earlier Hossain held a detailed meeting at Islamabad with Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and discussed with him the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The Pakistani minister shared with him his perception of human rights situation in Afghanistan.
UN optimistic of early Afghan truce says power-sharing deal not discussed in Ashgabad
Frontier Post Bureau Report
ISLAMABAD - United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) Tuesday hoped that the warring Afghan factions would soon agree on a cease-fire. "They are expected to hold more talks next month, preferably somewhere inside Afghanistan." At the UN-brokered Ashgabad peace parleys, the Afghan interlocutors had not discussed taqseem-i-qudrat (power-sharing), the UNSMA official said at a news conference here. Andrew Tesoriere explained that representatives of the Taliban government and the northern-based opposition alliance had, in fact, agreed on shared institutions, including the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. "We expect there would be substantial progress towards the restoration of peace to the war-weary country," he said, though agreeing with a questioner that the negotiators had not signed a cease-fire agreement. The UNSMA's acting head added that the belligerent groups had expressed "flexibility" in the dialogue process.
The current (level of) hostility among the groups is not so high." Anrdew Tesoriere went on to dilate that the Afghan foes had not signed a cease-fire but "all issues, including a truce, were negotiated in detail." The United Nations envoy, in reply to a query, said that the military aspect of the Afghan conflict did not come up for discussion at the three-day peace talks held in the Turkmen capital. Asked about Pakistan's role in bringing the Afghans to one platform, Andrew Tesoriere eulogised the efforts being made by Islamabad to create an atmosphere of peace in the neighbouring country.
In a brief on the Ashgabad dialogue, he recalled that the two sides had agreed to form a shared executive, a shared legislature and a shared judiciary. "This is a major breakthrough. "Both sides agreed to release 20 prisoners each as soon as possible through the ICRC," the UN envoy said, adding that the Taliban government and opposition forces had expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue for resolving other issues as well to implement the decisions already taken. He told the newsmen that the de-militarisation question had not been on the agenda for the Ashgabad talks, "which were held in an atmosphere of sincerity, flexibility and good humour." There, however, were lengthy deliberations on the representation of the various ethnic Afghan groups in the future set-up, he concluded.
|Back to News Archirves of 1999|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).