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Home > India > News > PTI

Don't underestimate Al Qaeda: India tells UNSC

Dharam Shourie in New York | March 13, 2008 11:17 IST

India has asked the international community to bolster its security action inside and outside Afghanistan to ensure that terrorists and their patrons are deprived of shelter, financing and ideological support.

"We should not underestimate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda nor fight terrorism with any less military and political determination than in the immediate post-2001 days after terrorist attacks on the United States," India's UN Ambassador Nirupam Sen told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Intervening on the debate on situation in Afghanistan ahead of extension of the mandate of the United Nations mission there, Sen also stressed the need to vigorously fight drug trafficking which sustains terrorism.

"International partners must also make effort to upgrade Afghan capacity to take more effective action to prevent cross-border smuggling and movements, and work unitedly in support of action by Afghan agencies and internationally, to stem demand of narcotic products," he said.

The counter-narcotics effort, Sen said, is 'precisely at the intersection' of the effort to assist government establish its authority, the fight against terror and organised crime and a challenge to poverty alleviation and development.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in his latest report, had urged the government to 'muster the political will' on eradication of poppy cultivation and take measures against erring public officials and large land owners.

But Sen said this is part of the picture and equally important are effective disincentives against poppy cultivation in contrast to efforts to 'legitimise the practice' via so-called 'legal opiates'.

The international community should bolster its security action inside and outside Afghanistan to ensure that terrorists and their patrons are deprived of shelter, funds and ideological support, Sen said.

While consolidating efforts internationally on the security front, 'we must also simultaneously ramp up efforts to build local capacity across the board -- from administration to security from civil engineering to medical science', he said.

So far as India concerned, he told the 15-member Council, capacity building is a priority area as 'we believe that this is one area which requires of assistance that requires minimal investment but yields maximum long-term benefits.'

Asking the international community to direct collective energy towards security, Sen said the experience shows that effective people-centric administration closely follows robust efforts to provide security.

"Development and security are closely intertwined, and on both, the international community and the UN must be in closer coordination with each other and with relevant Afghan agencies," Sen said.

To do so, he said, while pressing forward forcefully in terms of security operations, "we must also pay more attention to building capacity in the Afghan National Army and the National Police."

India, Sen said, is fully committed to implementing the inter-related security, political and developmental challenges facing Afghanistan.

"Our commitment to reconstruction, development and capacity building in Afghanistan is unflinching. India's assistance programme has now exceeded $750 million, and it spans the gamut of requirements, ranging from developing capacity to infrastructure and reconstruction."

As a committed development partner of Afghanistan, India is willing to actively participate in any UN-led effort to improve donor cohesion, in support of Afghan-defined priorities, Sen told the Council.

The central objective of the international community is to assist Afghanistan complete its re-emergence from decades of war and civil strife, he said and stressed the need for setting the goal of assisting Afghanistan emerge as a modern democratic country, rooted in its unique culture, at peace with itself, secure in its neighbourhood and on the path to sustainable economic development.

"Each of these processes needs to be 'Afghanised' at a pace and in a manner that is acceptable to the Afghan people and their government. We should neither press for unrealistic targets or unattainable agendas, nor should we transfer responsibility to Afghan shoulders before they are ready to accept it," the Ambassador emphasised.

The prioritisation of tasks in an environment as challenging as it is in Afghanistan, he said, is a difficult task, but it must be an Afghan-led process.

This, Sen said, is not to say that international partners should not have an input in drawing up a list of priorities.

"But at the end of the day, Afghan interlocutors should have the final say on where scarce resources -- manpower and money -- are allocated."

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