Afghanistan had been totally devastated

At a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Akhtar Brahmi, said that while many serious problems remained in Afghanistan, he was hopeful that peace would be consolidated, and reconstruction would take place.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency”, Mr. Brahmi said. But there was every reason to be hopeful that some 24 years of incessant conflict and destruction were behind the people of Afghanistan, he said. The recent address to the General Assembly by the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was the first occasion in many years that the President of a fully recognized Afghan Government had spoken to the General Assembly and other United Nations fora.

The main problem threatening the process in Afghanistan was security, or the lack of it, he said. He had been asking a question for which he had no answer, namely, how many people were trying to disrupt the peace process. The people who bought into the process had not withdrawn from it. Where were the people who had not bought into the process? He asked. The answer to that question was unknown, which was why there was great need for vigilance.

Another problem facing Afghanistan was the slow process of reconstruction, he said. Afghanistan had been totally devastated, and it would be difficult for those who had fled the country some 20 years ago to come back to Afghanistan.

How would be the current situation in Iraq including any future military action impact the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan? a correspondent asked. Mr. Brahmi said he did not see a direct link between the two. A major crisis in the region, however, was much too close for comfort. If Pakistan and Iran in particular were disrupted, Afghanistan would also be affected. Although there was no direct link, he was very apprehensive. He was looking forward to the breakthrough that the Secretary-General had worked out yesterday.

Asked whether he had taken measures in anticipation of a possible warm. Brahmi said there were no measures he could take in Afghanistan, except perhaps to pray.

Were more troops and police needed on the ground to improve the security situation? a correspondent asked. Mr. Brahmi said he was hopeful that the project for a national police force and army would take form and would be a credible, achievable objective. He also hoped that in a year or two, the Afghans would be in a position to take care of most of their security needs. In the meantime, however, it was no secret that the Secretary-General and others, including President Karzai, had called for more international support to the security situation. The United Nations had been told repeatedly that expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was not possible. He was encouraged however, by the public recognition that some kind of support was needed.