UN officials mourn passing of Mohammad Zahir Shah

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his senior envoy to Afghanistan today mourned the passing of His Majesty Mohammad Zahir Shah, considered the father of the nation, at the age of 92.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban paid tribute to the late monarch, who reigned over a “long period of peace and development.”

Mr. Ban noted that the King had been responsible for adopting a Constitution in 1964 “that was a model of tolerance, as well as a synthesis of the best of Islamic and modern political thought.”

In Kabul today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Tom Koenigs, called the late monarch “truly a King of Peace.”

Mohammad Zahir Shah “exerted a unifying influence, including during the difficult decades of conflict,” Mr. Koenigs said, paying particular tribute to the King’s participation in the Bonn Process which laid the groundwork for establishing democracy in the country after the fall of the Taliban.

“The return of Mohammad Zahir Shah to Kabul in 2002 was a touchstone for Afghan hopes for peace and the revival of their institutions and traditions,” Mr. Koenigs said, calling the King’s role at the Emergency and Constitutional Loya Jirgas – which paved the way for a political transition – “a singular contribution to national reconciliation.”

“Our prayers are with His Majesty’s family and with all those who were touched in so many ways by this great man,” Mr. Koenigs said.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is flying its flags at half-mast in an expression of solidarity with the Afghan people in their national mourning.