UNGA 2020: Turmoil battering Afghanistan can end with ‘united, democratic’ success

'For sustainable peace in Afghanistan we must get to the roots of the terrorism blighting our region'

In this UNTV image, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, speaks in a pre-recorded video message during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at UN headquarters. The U.N.'s first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from heads-of-state, kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic. (UNTV via AP)
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President Ashraf Ghani called on global leaders to help turn Afghanistan into a “sovereign united, democratic” success story.

As Afghan leaders hold peace talks with the Taliban, he said the country can be a model for overcoming the turmoil we all face.

Mr Ghani said five drivers of turmoil were hitting the world and were being dealt with in Afghanistan simultaneously.

One of them, the coronavirus pandemic, was having aggravating effects on the other four – warfare and terrorism, inequality, climate change and the digital revolution.

“We have demonstrated the commitment, passion and courage to start direct peace talks with the Taliban but it won’t be enough," Mr Ghani said.

"For sustainable peace in Afghanistan we must get to the roots of the terrorism blighting our region.

“The untold sorrow of our people during the past 40 years serves as reminder of relevance of the UN charter and also of its unfulfilled promise for maintaining international peace and security."

He said it was vital to wipe out terrorism, with its links to international crime.

“We are living and dying inside the fifth wave of global terrorism, making warfare totally unconventional and peace-building even more of a challenge,” Mr Ghani said.

He said Afghan peace could be a sign to the world that the UN’s lofty goals of spreading peace were attainable.

“The role of the UN and our international partners and allies will continue to be extremely important as our negotiating team sits across from the Taliban," he said.

“At those talks, the Afghan people have a clear and urgent priority – a ceasefire, an end to the violence, that gives us the chance to progress.”

Mr Ghani also thanked the UAE for its help with his country’s coronavirus crisis.

"We took very strong measures thanks in part to the warning and advanced notice we received from the Emirates," Mr Ghani said.

He said the UAE was "the only country I know that predicted the likely scenario", and thanked its leadership for the advance warning.

"As a result of that we mobilised."

Mr Ghani said Afghanistan probably has 7,000 more coronavirus deaths than the official toll of 1,446.

Afghanistan's economic growth was projected to grow 3.5 per cent in 2020, but will instead drop to minus 5 per cent, he said.

The impact of the virus has resulted in a revenue loss of 33 per cent.

Small and medium businesses have been "very hard hit".

The UN and its international organisations have "not delivered a single laboratory for testing", Mr Ghani said, calling their support "marginal".