Haysom lists challenges Afghan govt must overcome
Briefing the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York, Haysom, also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said Afghanistan was being as severely tested in 2016 as it was in 2015 by the task of managing its difficult transition with its interrelated political, economic and security challenges.
To survive 2016, he said, the national unity government would need to overcome five distinct hurdles --- a contracting economy characterized by low growth and high unemployment; an intensifying insurgency; and an increasingly fractious and divided political environment.
In addition, he said, Afghanistan would need to secure significant medium-term financial support from the international community at the Warsaw and Brussels conferences this summer. Finally, he added, the country would need to achieve progress towards a sustainable peace without which all the other gains were threatened.
“For 2016, survival will be an achievement for the national unity government. Some may criticize this benchmark as being low. Yet Afghanistan must overcome each and every one of these five hurdles to avoid severe consequences.”
Haysom acknowledged there was a failure on the economic front to appreciate the shock of the withdrawal of the international community at the end of 2014.
He said low levels of growth had resulted in high unemployment and hundreds of thousands of young Afghans seeking to join the work force each year confronted the absence of jobs and yet complained of corruption in public and private life.
“This combination fuels not only the impulse to migration but also lays a foundation for social instability..This picture is however mitigated by the government’s efforts to implement its reform agenda.”
Haysom said the Afghan government’s engagement with its neighbours, bilaterally and through initiatives such as the Heart of Asia process and RECCA, for the purpose of regional economic integration, had begun bearing fruit, inter alia, with the launch of the TAPI project.
On the security situation, the UN special envoy said they could expect “a difficult fighting season.” The Taliban, he said, emboldened by their military successes in Kunduz and elsewhere, would continue to test the Afghan security forces across the country.
“Yet in this first year of independent command, the Afghan security forces have largely held their own in the face of continuing high rates of attrition.”
He said the Afghan forces were undertaking efforts to adapt and improve. “The stakes are high, not least because the loss of a provincial capital, even if temporarily, would have significant repercussions for the national unity government’s political standing.”
However, Haysom said the Islamic State or Daesh’s active presence was confined to a smaller area to the east of the country following operations by Afghan security forces with support from the international military.
In regard to the political transition, he said, the national unity government continued to be subject to criticism on account of the economic and security deterioration even though this was not of its own making.
“It is being challenged by a fractious political elite, the erosion of a necessary sense of national unity, and consequentially that most precious political commodity, confidence in the future.”
He called electoral reform as important to indicate manifest progress in democratisation of Afghanistan and fulfill its commitments to the population in 2014.
Haysom said the international community would make critical decisions at Warsaw and Brussels on the level and type of assistance it would continue to provide to Afghanistan.
But he said Afghanistan must show, in particular, that it was committed to tackling corruption, making the necessary governance reforms, tackling the illicit economy, and generating confidence in Afghanistan’s future.
About the peace process, Haysom said the final hurdle “is progress towards a sustainable peace.”
“Afghan’s want peace, they deserve peace, but most importantly they need peace. Without a peace process, the sustainability and viability of all of our efforts, in Brussels, Warsaw, New York, and elsewhere to bring stability and prosperity to Afghanistan will be called into question.”
He said the establishment of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group was a welcome development and appreciated the efforts of Pakistan.
“A successful peace process will require the support of neighbouring countries and the wider region.”
He said they had called repeatedly and would continue to call for nothing less than direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“I again met with the Taliban Political Commission last week and reiterated that peace in Afghanistan requires an intra-Afghan dialogue that must, by necessity, involve Taliban and Taliban groups. They however reiterated that they were not yet ready to engage directly with the Government.”
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