REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
“THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN”
TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
OUAGADOUGOU – BURKINA FASO, 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999
- The Organization of the Islamic Conference remains seriously concerned over the continuing armed conflict which has caused immense destruction in Afghanistan, deepened the tragedy of the Afghan people, and carried grave implications for the unity and territorial integrity of this Islamic country.
- Since the liberation of Afghanistan, the OIC has focused its efforts on the strengthening of peace and stability through encouragement of unity, harmony and reconciliation among all segments of the Afghan society so that the Afghan people can channel all its energies into action to meet the formidable challenges of national reconstruction and socio-economic development.
- The agreements signed by the leaders of the Afghan Mujahideen on 24 April 1992, led to the formation of a new Government on 28 April 1992. However, hopes for durable peace and stability were short-lived as war soon broke out among factions of Afghan Mujahideen in and around Kabul causing immense loss of life and damage to property. Moreover, these tragic events hampered the implementation of the OIC-IDB aid programme for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
- Responding to an appeal made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and thanks to efforts exerted by the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the leaders of the Afghan Muhajideen met in Islamabad and reached a peace agreement on 7 March 1993, which they ratified on 12 March 1993 in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in the presence of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
- However, the Afghan factions failed to reach a national consensus and this development led to an aggravation of the Afghan political crisis and consequently to the continuation of the military conflict with the ensuing heavy losses in human life and property.
- The OIC efforts to bring about peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan were appreciated by the international community. In its resolution of 22 October 1996 the Security Council acknowledged the important role of the OIC in complementing the UN peace efforts in Afghanistan. And in its resolution of 17 December 1996 on Afghanistan the UN General Assembly expressed its appreciation of the efforts made by the OIC in support of the UN efforts aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan, and urged the participation of the OIC with the UN in the peace process.
- In response to an appeal made by the Secretary General, the Teleban leaders decided on 19 March 1997 to grant amnesty to the two French workers of the “Action Contre la Faim” who had been arrested by the Taleban Movement in February 1997 on charges of violation of Islamic Shariah. The French government expressed its thanks and appreciation to the Secretary General for the successful efforts made by the OIC for the release of the two French relief workers.
- The OIC representative participated in the meeting convened by the Security Council in New York on 14-15 April 1997 and in the two meetings convened by the UN Secretary General at the UN Headquarters on 16 April 1997 and 1 October 1997.
- The Secretary General attaches great importance to the process of consultation and coordination with the United Nations aimed at bringing about a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. In this context, the Secretary General received at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah on 7 September 1997, Mr. Lakhdar Al-Ibrahimi, Special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan. During the meeting, the Secretary General emphasized the need for the OIC and the UN to coordinate their efforts to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan and to promote peace and national reconciliation in the country. It was agreed that the two Organizations would continue to call on the assistance of the regional and international organizations and of the concerned countries to strengthen the peace efforts in Afghanistan. The Secretary General during his meeting with Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, in New York on 3 October 1997, underlined the importance of calling on the Afghan parties to initiate a political dialogue aimed at bringing about national reconciliation and a durable political settlement.
- The provisions of Resolution 9/8-P(IS) of the Eighth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, in December 1997, reaffirmed all the previous resolutions adopted on Afghanistan. The Conference expressed its deep concern at the continuing fratricide in Afghanistan. It emphasized the need for promoting national reconciliation and rapprochement as well as the formation of a broad-based government, the disbanding of the armed groups, and the formation of a national army and a police force. The Conference called for total respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and Islamic identity of Afghanistan and for non-interference in the country’s internal affairs. It also emphasized the urgent need for a fund to be established under the auspices of the OIC for assistance to the Afghan people.
- H.E. Ambassador Ibrahim Bakr, Special Representative of the OIC Secretary General, who has made several visits to the region, met with various Afghan leaders, and had talks in Jeddah on 6 September 1997 with Mr. Mohammad Rabbani, Representative of the Taleban Movement. During the talks, Ambassador Bakr reaffirmed the position of the OIC urging a cessation of attacks and the initiation of a dialogue among Afghan parties for the formation of a broad-based government.
- The Twenty-fifth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Doha, State of Qatar, in March 1998, adopted a Resolution No. 10/25-P on the situation in Afghanistan, in which it reaffirmed the impossibility of a military solution to the Afghan crisis and called on the Afghan parties to effect an immediate and unconditional cease-fire. The Conference also called on all Member States to desist immediately from supplying any party to the conflict in Afghanistan with arms and ammunition. It also called for effective measures by all Afghans to eliminate the production and exportation of drugs. It emphasized the need for continued close coordination between the OIC and the UN to bring about a peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan.
- Within the framework of the United Nations, a number of meetings were held by the 6+2 Committee (the six neighbours to Afghanistan: Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China in addition to the United States of America and the Russian Federation). These meetings resulted in the issuance of two basic documents, the first containing eleven ways to implement the embargo on arms deliveries to the various Afghan factions.
- In the context of cooperation between the United Nations and the OIC, the U.N. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and the OIC Permanent Observer at the UN in New York made a three-week visit to the region as of March 20, 1998. The mission included a series of consultations with the leaders of the Afghan warring factions and a number of officials of the neighbouring countries as well as with other groups and personalities who might be able to make a significant contribution towards the establishment of a lasting peace in Afghanistan. The joint mission communicated to the Afghanistan Northern Alliance, proposals from the Taleban Movement for the setting up of a Steering Committee to prepare the formation of a “High Ulema Commission”.
- The Steering Committee held a meeting of the Afghan factions on 25 April 1998 in Islamabad under the co-chairmanship of the United nations and the OIC. This was the first direct meeting between the Taleban Movement and the Northern Alliance. After a series of meetings and informal consultations, the two sides reached a consensus on the most difficult item namely the Ulema Commission. Several options and proposals were put forth, but the two sides could not reach an agreement. The meeting was therefore adjourned pending the setting of a new date for any meetings between them.
- It was clear that the keenness of the various factions to obtain arms had a negative impact on all reconciliation efforts and contributed to creating objective conditions for military developments.
- Thus, the Afghan scene witnessed, a new development during the months of August and September 1998 when the forces of the Teleban Movement entered the city of Mazar-e-Sharif and the Bamian area. This led to tension in the relations between that Movement and a number of neighbouring countries. It is regrettable that this development took a heavy tool of dead among the civilian population including a number of Iranian diplomats for whose immediate release the Secretary General had made an urgent appeal. The world, however, was stunned to learn of their massacre, an event which can only meet with general condemnation.
- In view of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan due to the continuing armed conflict and to the earthquake which struck the country recently, the Secretary General expressed the hope that Member States would extend humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.
- The Secretary General expressed his deep concern at the shelling, by the United States of America, of a number of locations in Afghanistan, on 20 August 1998, which caused the death of a number of innocent civilians.
- The Secretary General refers to resolution 1193 (1998) of the Security Council and to the results achieved by the 6+2 Committee at the meeting it held for the first time ast Foreign Ministers’ level on 21 September 1998. He welcomes the call addressed by the said Committee to the OIC General Secretariat for joint efforts to defuse the present tension and facilitate the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
- The OIC Ad-hoc Committee on Afghanistan met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 28 September 1998, to review the situation in Afghanistan. The Meeting expressed deep concern over the continuation of the armed conflict in Afghanistan and urged the Afghan parties to renounce the use of force as a means to settle their political differences, and work together to promote national reconciliation in the country. It affirmed that the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be settled through military means. It emphasized the need for an intra-Afghan dialogue to address all the issues relating to the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan, including the formation of a broad-based government. It also emphasized the need for preserving the unity independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, and for respecting the heritage of this multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. It called for an end to all foreign interventions in Afghanistan and for an immediate halt in the supply of arms and ammunition to all the parties to the conflict.
- The joint OIC/UN Mission on Afghanistan undertaken by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General as well as the OIC Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Ibrahim Bakr and Ambassador Muhammad Saleh Zaimi, the OIC director of Cabinet on October 1998. The joint mission met in Kandahar by the leader of the Taleban Movement, Mullah Muhammed Omar. The mission also met Prof. Rabbani, Mr. Karim Khalili, Gen. Dostum and Commander Ahmad Shah Massood in Tehran and Dushanbe. The Mission demanded that the Taleban as well as other Afghan sides, stop fighting without delay, conclude a cease-fire and resume negotiations with the aim of creating a broad-based and multi-ethnic government.
- The General Secretariat issued a press release welcoming the positive results of the Afghan Reconciliation Conference, held in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, in which Taleban and the group of opposing Afghan factions. The press release urged all parties to act together to respect the resolutions of the Conference and expedite the realization of a comprehensive political settlement.
- The Secretary General reiterates the need for continued efforts to persuade the parties to the conflict to opt for a political settlement, national reconciliation and power-sharing as an essential condition for the achievement of a durable peace in Afghanistan, pursuant to the resolutions of the Summits and Conferences of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States.
- The Secretary General submits this Report to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for consideration and appropriate decision.
It expressed its appreciation of the efforts made by the OIC Secretary General to promote a settlement of the Afghan question and urged the Afghan parties to respond to his appeal for a cessation of all military operations.
It expressed deep concern over recent developments on the Afghan scene, which resulted in the killing of many civilians including a number of Iranian diplomats. It condemned the murder of these persons and demanded the identification and punishment of those responsible for the crime as well as the search for the missing persons. It also demanded the release of the detainees.
It welcomed the invitation addressed by the United Nations to the Secretary General to carry out a joint mission to the region aimed at defusing tension and facilitating the achievement of a peaceful settlement.