United Nations: Although progress made till date in war-torn Afghanistan has been significant, “much more needs to be done” in the country, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s permanent representative to the UN, told the UN Security Council Tuesday.

Puri’s statement came as he addressed the Security Council during an open debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Xinhua reported.

Puri said it has been more than a decade since the international community came together to assist Afghanistan on fighting terrorism and encouraging development, security, and reconstruction.

“The progress made since then cannot be underestimated. However, the journey is far from over and much more needs to be done,” he said.

Security concerns remain “first and foremost” for Afghanistan, Puri said.

“The security gains achieved during the last decade are still tenuous and fragile. Terrorist violence shows no signs of receding and civilians casualties attributed to anti-government elements have continued to rise over the last five years, hitting a peak in 2011,” he said.

Puri called for concerted action to isolate terrorist movements in Afghanistan and the region.

“Afghanistan needs assistance and support to build its capacity to tackle the critical challenges of terrorism, including suicide terrorism, the religious extremism that fuels it, and the drug trafficking that sustains it. We must ensure that Afghanistan’s security is ensured through non-interference with its internal affairs,” he said.

He said India supports reconciliation led by Afghanistan itself instead of an internationally-led process.

“It is important that any political settlement does not jeopardize the hard-won gains of the last 10 years and is acceptable to all constituents of the Afghan nation,” he said.

“It is also important that the ongoing transition remain Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, must be multi-faceted and should ensure the protection and promotion of the human rights of all Afghans and lead to strengthening of the Afghan state and its institutions.”

Regarding development in Afghanistan, Puri said that as international forces draw down their combat roles, signs of a “transition recession” have emerged in the country.

“We need to find ways and means to ensure that Afghanistan does not feel abandoned by a withdrawal of assistance, at least in terms of quantity if not quality, of international assistance required, post-2014,” he said.

Despite escalating violence, the US and NATO have pledged to begin a gradual security transition from July as part of a plan that will see all foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Puri said future assistance to Afghanistan should include security cooperation, official development assistance, capacity building and education, trade access and foreign investment.

“We must continue to work together with renewed vigor and unity of purpose towards strengthening efforts of the Afghan government in seeking solutions that are inclusive and led by the Afghan people themselves. It is with this spirit that India will continue to remain engaged with the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan,” he said.

Source: IANS