Security in Afghanistan key to success of political process Security Council told

The outcome of the months-long effort to establish a stable and democratic Government in Afghanistan hinges on how well the country – with foreign support – can respond to threats to stability, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.“The question of security continues to be the foremost concern, and the manner in which it is addressed by the international community and the Afghans together may well determine in the very near future the success – or not – of the Bonn process,” said Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, referring to an effort by Afghan factions which began at a meeting in that German city last year.The convening of an Emergency Loya Jirga on 22 June would mark the next key milestone in the process, he noted. “There is a continuing danger that the existing security apparatus, both Afghan and international, does not adequately address the security threats that are currently discernable, and that are likely to increase as the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga approaches,” he warned.While noting that the 4,500-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was conducting round-the-clock patrols in Kabul, Mr. Prendergast pointed out that the main threats to the Interim Authority emanated from the provinces. Afghans had “demonstrated overwhelming support for the Emergency Loya Jirga, including support for the participation of women,” but they had also expressed “fear that armed groups could affect the selection or election” of its members. The commission charged with overseeing the process had so far been able to operate without outside interference, “but there are legitimate fears that political pressure will increase substantially” in the future, the Under-Secretary-General cautioned.On the positive side, he said there had been “significant” progress in re-establishing the Afghan civil service, and voiced gratitude to all donors who had made it possible to provide salaries for public servants, while stressing the need for additional funds to help Afghanistan meet its immediate needs. “Without these millions being available today, the billions pledged at Tokyo [during a donor’s meeting] may be of much less use,” he warned. Mr. Prendergast also praised the Afghan interim leader, Hamid Karzai, for serving as “an ambassador not only for Afghanistan’s dire needs, which require international assistance, but also for Afghanistan’s aspirations, which are built on international responsibility and cooperation.” read more