Afghan VP to Pakistan: Get Rid of Your Terrorist Safe Havens

Afghanistan's Vice President Sarwar Danesh addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Afghanistan’s vice president lashed out at Pakistan and other countries that give safe haven to terrorists as Afghan security forces continue to fight the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS and civilians weather their attacks.

The country is one of those requesting that the United Nations appoint a special representative focused on the safety of journalists as terror groups aim “to suppress democracy, freedom of speech and our free and independent media,” VP Sarwar Danesh told the UN General Assembly today.

Afghanistan’s media has grown rapidly since the fall of the Taliban, with wire services, cable and satellite channels, radio, print and digital news.

Danesh noted recent Taliban and ISIS attacks, including last month’s attack on the American University in Kabul.

“Based on existing evidence, these attacks were planned and organized from the other side of the Durand Line inside Pakistani territory. This year, the Taliban tried to take control of more areas in the country, especially in Kondoz and Helmand provinces but were confronted by our national defense and security forces,” the vice president said.

“As a result, hundreds of extremist militants of Taliban and Daesh, many of whom were foreign fighters, were killed or captured. We call on the international community to pay particular attention to the elimination of terrorist safe havens located outside of the country [and] honestly implement their international pledges in the fight against terrorism.”

Danesh said nations should “avoid a dual policy of making a distinction between good and bad terrorists, which undermines the international order.”

“We ask all of you, where were the previous leaders of the Taliban and al-Qaeda residing and where were they killed? And this very moment, where are the leaders of the Taliban and Haqqani network located? From where and how are terrorists being trained, equipped and financed during a full-scale war?” he asked. “We have repeatedly asked our neighboring country, Pakistan to destroy the known terrorist safe havens but we unfortunately have yet to witness any change in the situation.”

“Afghanistan has always desired peaceful relations with all countries of the region. However, the government of national unity reserves the right to do whatever is necessary for the defense and protection of our people.”

Danesh said countries in the region “should come together and cooperate to fight against our common threats including terrorism, radicalism, drugs, organized crimes, illegal immigration and smuggling.”

“Also the establishment of the regional railroad, energy transit, mine extraction, trade and transit can provide an important joint economic cooperation for us,” he added.

The VP stressed that in the past several years Afghanistan has “signed documents of long-term strategic cooperation with 20 of our allies including the U.S., E.U. and NATO.”

“Afghanistan, like other members of the international community, is serious and decisiveness in fighting against radicalism and violence and will continue its strong fight against this ominous phenomenon,” Danesh said. “It has been years that our nation is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and has made tremendous sacrifices in order to defend common values of humanity.”

He called for the UN to “hold an international conference on the fight against radicalism with the aim of introducing a new legal setup to combat terrorism.”

“We believe that serious efforts in the fight against terrorism and radicalism are in need of exact and thorough planning for at least 20 years. And in this plan, Afghanistan should receive especial attention from the international community as we are at the forefront of this fight.”