Statement of Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan on the death of Mohammad Zahir Shah

It is with profound sadness that I have learned today of the death of the Father of the Afghan Nation, His Majesty Mohammad Zahir Shah. Over forty years as reigning monarch of this country and the nearly ninety-three years of his life, Mohammad Zahir Shah was truly a King of Peace. He presided over the most tranquil and prosperous periods in Afghanistan’s modern history and exerted a unifying influence, including during the difficult decades of conflict.

I would like to pay particular tribute to the role he played during the Bonn Process. 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. His role at the Emergency and Constitutional Loya Jirgas was a singular contribution to national reconciliation. His presence at the opening of a new National Assembly in December 2005 was a guarantee that a renewed constitutional order would safeguard the lives and rights of all Afghans.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Afghanistan at this time of national mourning. Our prayers are with His Majesty’s family and with all those who were touched in so many ways by this great man. I am requesting that flags at UNAMA offices across the country be flown at half-mast during this period.