In a veiled reference, India attacked Pakistan calling it a safe heaven for global terrorism. At the United Nations, India alleged that Pakistan has been using Afghanistan’s neighbourhood to provide sanctuary to “dark agendas” of various terror outfits like the Taliban and the LeT for years.
India also called for disabling the illegal drug trade which provides financial aid to these terror outfits. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said at a Security Council debate on Afghanistan Monday that the Taliban, helped by their supporters, continue to seek military operations executing violence and destruction, like the recent attack in Ghazni, over various parts of Afghanistan.
“These offensives are planned and launched by those who are harboured in safe havens in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan. These sanctuaries have, for years, provided safety for the dark agendas of ideologically and operationally-fused terror networks like the Taliban, Haqqani network, Daesh, Al-Qaeda and its prescribed affiliates such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed,” he said.
The UN Ambassador further said the plans of these terror organisations draw financial help not only from corruption and forced levies and taxes but also benefit significantly from criminal networks operating drug cartels and stealing Afghanistan’s natural resources. He cited the estimates saying that 60% of the Taliban’s revenues are from the drug trade and poppy cultivation is said to be the largest cash crop in Taliban-controlled areas.
Expressing his concern Akbaruddin said that while a Security Council decision adopted earlier this year to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) does converge on linkages between extremism, terrorism, drug production and illegal exploitation of natural resources of Afghanistan, it falls short of expectations in attempting to injure the Taliban’s drug trade.
The Secretary General’s current report also fails to address this very key issue in a fair matter, he said.
He said that templates for restraining illegal trade by terrorist networks exist, saying that it is estimated that when targeted, the Islamic State’s oil revenue fell over three years by nearly 90% from a monthly high of USD 50 million to just USD 4 million.
However, by contrast, the drug produced in Taliban-controlled areas is evaluated to account for 85% of global illicit production, valued between USD 1.5 billion to USD 3 billion.
“We feel it is time for this Council to try and replicate the success of the international community against the Islamic State’s illicit business in Syria and Iraq by similarly crippling the Taliban’s illicit drug trade,” Akbaruddin said.
He said that during the past few months, the international community has followed with hope and anticipation the various peace efforts and overtures by the Government and people of Afghanistan towards bringing peace to their war-torn country.
“All of us know and believe that there is no military solution to the issue,” he said.
Akbaruddin, however, said that the Taliban have rejected the recent calls for a ceasefire by the Afghan Government and the civil society, including various religious leaders.
“In fact, they have treated such overtures with growing disdain and have increased their offensive operations, as the country prepares for parliamentary elections,” he said.
He said India is willing to work with all nations in the region and beyond, keeping Afghan preferences at the foreground, so as to bring a lasting solution to the situation.
“Afghans should lead these efforts, not only between governments but with civil society and business as stakeholders. India stands ready to support Afghanistan in every way we can,” he said adding that India’s focus remains on the economic pillar of stability and reliable connectivity for the people of Afghanistan.
“We strongly believe that the lack of connectivity directly impacts the economic, security and political situation in Afghanistan and we want to address this crucial issue for the benefit of the Afghan people,” said Akbaruddin.