Colombo: - Following their November 2020 meeting, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari and Major General Milinda Peiris, the Vice Chancellor of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU), met at Sri Lanka’s prestigious military University on October 12, 2021. The Ambassador extended the appreciation of the Islamic Republic to the General and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Piyal De Silva for positively responding to Ambassador Haidari’s request from the KDU last November to consider increasing the number of its annual scholarships to qualified Afghan cadets. Consequently, four Afghan cadets were admitted to the KDU early this year since when they have been pursuing degrees in computer science, law, and architecture.
Moreover, they discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and their implications for regional stability and international peace. Ambassador Haidari noted that maritime security in the Indian Ocean region would most be affected by the unfolding situation in Afghanistan with implications for coastal nations, including Sri Lanka, where drugs produced in Afghanistan and trafficked by regional and transnational organized criminal networks had already affected public health, while financing terrorist activities aimed at undermining governments in the region.
Ambassador Haidari also discussed the failed Doha Peace Agreement, which excluded the Islamic Republic, and its total lack of implementation has emboldened terrorists across the world. In this light, he congratulated the General on Sri Lanka’s decisiveness in its early war against terrorism, which the country defeated in 2009. As South Asia’s oldest democracy, Ambassador Haidari said that Afghanistan had much to learn from Sri Lanka’s war-to-peace-transition, with the continued support of the international community, which he said should help ensure the formation of an inclusive and representative government soon.
Following their discussion, Ambassador Haidari met with the Afghan cadets and inquired them of their studies, which they said were going well and extended their appreciation to the KDU leadership, faculty, and staff for their continued support and encouragement. The Ambassador assured the cadets of their Embassy’s full support and advised them not to be discouraged by the recent developments and to continue pursuing their academic and professional goals and dreams.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affair of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
Today, the world marks the twentieth anniversary of the terror attacks on the United States of America, in which thousands of innocent men, women and children lost their lives. This event followed a worldwide condemnation of al-Qaeda and those that harbour terrorists. In October 2001, the international community partnered with the people of Afghanistan to liberate the country from international terrorism and champion democracy, pluralism, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-determination.
In the past twenty-years, working together with many friends and partners in the international community, Afghanistan underwent a tremendous transformation, amidst the challenge of being the front-line State in the global fight against international terrorism.
We pay tribute to the memory of all – including the members of our heroic security forces and the military and civilian personnel of our international friends and partners - who made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace, democracy, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. To the families of all who lost their precious lives in Afghanistan: sacrifice of your sons, daughters and loved ones will be remembered.
This occasion is also a moment to recognize and honor the courage and resilience of the heroic people of Afghanistan, from all walks of life – ordinary citizens, journalists, women and youth groups, civil society and others – who played an essential role in making possible the many foundational achievements of the past twenty years. They worked and sacrificed to develop a society based on democratic values and principles, and where the people would have the liberty and opportunity to set, pursue and achieve objectives for the benefit of a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
On this September 11th, as we remember and honor the memory of all who lost their precious lives in the global fight against terrorism, let us also reaffirm a shared commitment to remain united against those who seek to undermine our way of life and all that the civilized world stands for.
Recent developments in Afghanistan require serious international attention to save and preserve what the thousands of international civilian and military personnel sacrificed for alongside their Afghan friends and comrades: a democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan in which the rights and freedoms of all citizens, especially women, are upheld and respected and which does not allow any safe haven for terrorism to threaten any other nation from its territories.
The recent illegal capture of power and territories in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the formation of their so-called caretaker government, the brutal suppression of political opposition and action against basic liberties of our people including freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration do not inspire confidence that Taliban will deliver on the basic expectations of the Afghan people and the international community. Upholding human rights, especially the rights of women, children and minorities, political inclusivity and counter-terrorism are the key national and international expectations on which the Taliban should be held accountable both nationally and internationally. Taliban’s failure to meet these foundational principles will undoubtedly risk prolongation of the conflict and pose serious threats to regional and international security and stability.
We call on the international community to not forget Afghanistan and help ensure that the will of the nation is upheld. At this most difficult juncture, a comprehensive political settlement, leading to the formation of a broad-based and fully inclusive government that protects and advances the rights of all Afghans and which will uphold the will of the nation, including the right to self-determination, is the only viable pathway forward.
Once again, we convey our deepest gratitude to all of our international friends and partners who have served and sacrificed for the cause of peace, democracy and pluralism in Afghanistan. Together, we can still save and preserve these noble values for which thousands of precious lives were sacrificed.
Colombo: - The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Colombo joins the Government of Sri Lanka and nations around the world in expressing our solidarity with the people and Government of the United States on the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that took 2,977 innocent lives, including 372 nationals from 90 countries. In memorial to the victims, we pay tribute to each innocent life lost on that tragic day, as well as condoling with the families and loved ones of the victims.
This 20th commemoration of the September 11, 2001, is a sad but timeless reminder that long before terrorists attacked Americans, they had been victimizing the people of Afghanistan, having turned our beautiful country into a no-man’s land where poverty had become endemic; basic human rights had been daily violated; women had been reduced to sub-humans and confined to their homes; and global organized crime and terrorism had found a base of operations in isolated Afghanistan with worldwide targets.
Thanks to international intervention in the wake of 9/11, Afghanistan was liberated from the dark forces of extremism, terrorism, criminality, and the regional state-actors that had enabled these grave threats to regional stability and international peace to take root in the country. In the ensuing two decades, the suffering people of Afghanistan achieved transformational gains, including a developing democracy; gradual but steady institutionalization of human and women’s rights under Afghanistan’s progressive Constitution; economic growth and infrastructure connectivity towards sustainable development; as well as means of increasingly self-reliant national defense. To preserve these hard-earned gains against escalated terrorist attacks in the recent years, the Government and people of Afghanistan engaged in sincere peace efforts and made an unprecedented concession for peace by releasing over 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
However, following the signing of the Doha Agreement between the Taliban and the United States, which excluded the Government and people of Afghanistan, the Taliban reneged on all their commitments under the Agreement. Instead, they interpreted the Agreement as one of capitulation by the NATO, emboldening and encouraging them to escalate violence across Afghanistan. Consequently, the past three months have seen the complete destruction of local state institutions, demolishing of infrastructure, displacement of over 500,000 suffering Afghans, as well as the killing and wounding of 1,000s of others. Following the capture of Kabul on August 15, reports of reprisal killings, home-to-home search for Government employees, and arresting and torturing journalists and protesting Afghan women remain a cause for grave concern to the United Nations, which discussed these reports in last week’s UN Security Council debate on Afghanistan.
And much to the dismay of the Afghan people and the international community, this past week, the Taliban announced an all-male exclusionary interim cabinet that consists of UN-sanctioned individuals and lacks any representation from women, ethnic, religious, and sectarian minorities. Nor does it include any members of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including former leaders, who remain in Kabul and have been advocating for the formation of an inclusive government. At the same time, some 20 terrorist groups are sheltered in Afghanistan and have been fighting alongside the Taliban across Afghanistan, especially in the Panjshir valley where resistance continues against the same forces that hit the United States on 9/11.
Hence, we renew the call by the entire Afghan nation, including the Afghan diaspora, on the international community to avoid repeating the failures of the 1990s and to remain committed to the consolidation of our shared gains of the past 20 years. Doing so will prevent the imminent emergence of a pariah state, whose painful threats and terrorist attacks the United States and the rest of the international community once experienced. Enabling Afghanistan to stand on our own as a sovereign, independent, and progressive country at peace within itself and with the rest of the world must be the only way forward, helping maintain international peace and security consistent with the United Nations Charter, as well as International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws.
Remarks by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari at the #ActionToImpact Forum on Build Back Better and Sustainable in the Post COVID19 Era
The Road to Rights
August 8, 2021
Thank you very much for the kind, generous introduction.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I am very delighted to have recently met the impressive and dynamic youth leader, Mr. Ashan Perera, the Founder of the Road to Rights, and to congratulate him, his entire team, as well as the youth volunteers across this paradise island-nation, who have been supporting the vision and mission of the Road to Rights.
Today’s event, #ActionToImpact—a youth-led national campaign—is an outstanding example of the much-needed environmental work done by the Road to Rights. It aims at helping accelerate the progress of localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Sri Lanka, while directly supporting the United Nations Decade of Action and contributing to the Global Week to #Act4SDGs.
As the outgoing Director-General of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP) with eight member-states, including all South Asian countries, I welcome with immense appreciation the goal of the #ActionToImpact national campaign to create a multi-stakeholder national platform to mobilize communities in bringing businesses, civil society, youth, government organizations, and academia in achieving the SDGs.
As I recently said in my World Environment Day message, in the year ahead, we at SACEP encourage bolder regional policy interventions and adequate investments towards the implementation of all 17 SDGs with a special focus on sustainable production and consumption to conserve our nature, on which the health and wealth of all South Asians depends. At the same time, we call on the developed countries and multilateral financing institutions to increase their climate support to the most vulnerable countries of South Asia, enabling them to take needed mitigation and adaptation measures against climate-induced disasters.
To that end, I would like to be more specific and highlight one of our key projects, the Plastic Free Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE), which directly contributes to the goal of Build Back Better and Sustainable in the Post COVID-19 Era. We are grateful to the World Bank’s International Development Association and Parley for the Oceans for co-financing the $50 million regional project, which we believe will catalyze a regional transformation by supporting unique but scalable eco-innovation solutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know all too well, plastic waste pollutes land, air, and flows into river systems and ultimately into the oceans. And this poses national, regional, and global threats to sustainable development with far-reaching economic, ecological, and public health consequences. We need only to look around to see that the problem of plastic pollution has become significantly worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The qualities that make plastic useful—including lightness, durability, strength, versatility, and low production costs—have shot up demand for its ever-growing use. But the mismanagement of plastic waste has created a mounting pollution crisis, which continues eroding ecological systems like rivers and oceans.
The global production of plastic is currently estimated to be around 300 million tons per year. And plastic pollution in the marine environment alone claims approximately 9.5 million tons, with 1.5 million tons ending up in the oceans annually. The South Asia region is the third largest contributor to plastic waste globally. And this is estimated to double by 2050, unless effective, tangible action is taken by all of us now and today.
Knowing the gravity of the plastic pollution threat to our environment, the United Nations Environment Assembly has adopted several resolutions on Marine Litter and Microplastics. The resolutions support the development of marine litter action plans, including an assessment of the effectiveness of or gaps in relevant international, regional, and sub-regional governance strategies and approaches to addressing the challenge of plastic pollution.
To that end, the regional PLEASE project interventions will be implemented in all eight SACEP member-states, introducing new and promising initiatives that promote reduction of plastic pollution. This is done by adopting circular approaches where regional cooperation and coordination could help better recognize, share, and replicate good-practice models to reduce the stock and flow of plastic waste.
One such approach is supporting the Competitive Block Grant Investments to reduce plastic waste with the objective of identifying, verifying, and investing in circular plastic economy solutions, while facilitating the exchange of knowledge, technology, and awareness of the proposed solutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The regional PLEASE project adopts the A.I.R. strategy, which was developed by the Parley for the Oceans and launched at the United Nations some five years ago. It advocates for:
Avoiding plastic wherever possible and replacing it with alternative, eco-innovative materials.
Intercepting plastic and harmful materials for proper disposal.
Redesigning material, methods and thinking, even new industrial standards.
Indeed, the involvement of the private sector is the key to successfully addressing the plastic pollution. That is why the PLEASE project will help facilitate the region’s transition toward a more circular economy, increasingly free from plastic pollution. This effort should improve regional and national strategies, policies, action plans, and standards based on better analytics and through public-private sector engagement, dialogue, and collaboration.
To this end, the PLEASE project will provide support to develop and improve national and regional plastic pollution mitigation strategies, policies, and industry standards. As we would do so, the youth as a plurality in Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia could actively participate in helping Build Back Better. But how?
The application of A.I.R. makes it easy for you, the youth in Sri Lanka and across South Asia, to choose where you can make the greatest impact: 1) by avoiding plastic wherever possible; 2) by intercepting plastic and properly disposing it off; and 3) by studying and researching how to redesign material, which unlike plastics, is eco-friendly, thereby directly supporting the climate SDGs.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you and wish you the very best on our mission to Build Back Better and Sustainable at home and across our rich region!
Prime Minister Rajapaksa Meets Ambassador Haidari and Assures Him of Sri Lanka's Support for the Afghan People
Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Honorable Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Honorable Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris. In light of the recent events in Afghanistan, they offered the Ambassador and the Afghan Embassy in Colombo their full support, consistent with the strong Afghanistan-Sri Lanka friendship and growing bilateral relations.
Colombo: - Following three years of effectively and productively leading the inter-governmental South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP)—including the following South Asian member-states: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—the rotating tenure of Afghanistan, represented by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, as the Director-General of SACEP ended on August 7, 2021. In a farewell and welcoming reception at the SACEP headquarters, Director-General Haidari welcomed aboard his successor from Bangladesh, Dr. M. Masumur Rahman, and passed on the baton to him, wishing him the best in leading the regional inter-governmental organization forward.
At the event, Director-General Haidari delivered opening remarks and highlighted Afghanistan’s key achievements over the course of its three-year tenure. During this period, he said, that SACEP had seen increased reforms aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the inter-governmental organization to achieve the ever-important objectives of its vision and mission to help its eight member-states mitigate and adapt to the climate change impact.
To that end, the Director-General highlighted the initiation and implementation by SACEP of the Free Plastic Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE), made possible by a $50 million grant from the World Bank and Parley for the Oceans, as a one of Afghanistan’s key achievements during its three-year tenure. The Director-General joined the World Bank and Parley teams in making virtual country visits to all member-states of SACEP, discussing the challenge of plastic pollution across South Asia and the ways, in which the PLEASE project would help address plastic waste and its eco-innovative management.
Moreover, he highlighted the acquisition of a prime plot of land from the Government of Sri Lanka for building the new headquarters of SACEP, for which he secured the commitment of President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He thankfully added that the World Bank had agreed to provide a grant for building a state-of-the-art and eco-friendly SACEP headquarters over the next year. This should enable SACEP to hold regional and global climate conferences at the facility, while encouraging students and youths to visit the new building for exposure to SACEP’s work on the protection of environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems across the South Asia region.
The outgoing Director-General also highlighted his yearlong focus on resource mobilization from various climate finance sources to achieve the regional and global goals of SACEP, as well as effective communications strategy to draw increased public attention to SACEP’s work and its ongoing projects and programs.
In this regard, Director-General Haidari discussed his three physical country visits, including Afghanistan and the United States, meeting with the Presidents of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as with the Senior Adviser to the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. In Afghanistan, his productive visit resulted into the establishment of a climate finance unit within the Ministry of Finance, as well as the establishment of youth and women environmental groups with an interest to collaborate with SACEP on issues of shared interest.
In addition, Director-General Haidari pointed out that over the past year, SACEP’s visibility through its daily updated social media pages and website had increased manifold. He said that just in less than one year and despite COVID19 lockdowns, SACEP had conducted more than thirty events, including hosting workshops and speaking engagements by the Director-General in various forums. Thanks to his vigorous public climate diplomacy efforts, mainstream media in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the rest of the region have also covered SACEP’s work, helping educate the public on the importance of eco-civic duty.
The SACEP personnel bid farewell the outgoing Director-General form Afghanistan and welcomed their new colleague from Bangladesh.
Ambassador Haidari and Finance Minister Rajapaksa Discuss Cooperation Opportunities and Developments in Afghanistan
Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa on July 27, 2021. The Minister was accompanied by his senior staff and Additional Secretary Ambassador Pakeer Amza of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two sides had a wide-ranging discussion on the status of growing bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, potential areas of cooperation between the two sides’ Ministries of Finance, as well as an assessment of the recent security developments in Afghanistan with far-reaching implications for regional stability.
Ambassador Haidari told the Minister that the two sides had initiated, initialed, and signed ten MOUs and agreements over the past two years, despite the COVID19 situation. Both sides highlighted the importance of a few key pending agreements to be signed in the near future, particularly a bilateral agreement on the promotion and protection of investment aimed at further enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. Moreover, they agreed that the transfer of sentenced persons agreement, facilitating mutual legal assistance and cooperation, should be finalized and signed soon.
On trilateral and multilateral cooperation, they explored the idea of North-South-South cooperation, as Ambassador Haidari welcomed technical cooperation between the central and commercial banks of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka with support from multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
They also took note of increased cooperation between the cricket boards of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. “We are very delighted to utilize the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium to host our upcoming matches. In addition to many co-benefits, this cooperation opportunity would further deepen ties between our cricketers, youth, and people,” Ambassador Haidari told the Minister. In this regard, he thanked Minister of Youth and Sports Namal Rajapaksa, who is a big fan and supporter of Afghanistan’s rising cricket team, which enjoys widespread popularity across Sri Lanka and South Asia.
On the recent developments in Afghanistan, Ambassador Haidari shared with Minister Rajapaksa a copy of the recent midyear report of the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) on civilian casualties as a direct result of resurgent terrorism and extremely violent offensives by the Taliban with safe havens in Afghanistan’s immediate neighborhood. In this regard, they recalled Sri Lanka’s own three-decade war against terrorism, and the country’s decisiveness to defeat the deadly threat by the end of 2009. “Of all countries in the region, there is much we can learn from Sri Lanka’s successful war-to-peace-transition experience, including post-conflict peace building and sustainable development,” said Ambassador Haidari.
Both sides agreed that the Taliban and their affiliated regional and transnational terrorist networks not only destabilize Afghanistan, victimize its suffering people, and try to undo the country’s hard-won gains of the past two decades but they also pose a threat to the stability and security of every nation in the region. Ambassador Haidari noted that to address the growing threats of extremism, terrorism and criminality, the international community, including Afghanistan’s near and extended neighbors, should tangibly support the government and people of Afghanistan in their quest for an end to the imposed war through a sustainable political settlement.
The Ambassador thanked the government of Sri Lanka for its consistent support of the Afghan peace process and for its repeated call on the Taliban to end its attacks on civilians and to engage in meaningful peace talks.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena Calls Ambassador Haidari on EID and Concern about Resurgent Terrorism in Afghanistan
Colombo: - The Honorable Leader of the House of Sri Lankan Parliament and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena thoughtfully called by phone Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari to exchange Eid-Al-Adha greetings yesterday. The Ambassador conveyed to him the warm Eid wishes of Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar, welcoming Sri Lanka's consistent support of efforts by the Government and people of Afghanistan to end the imposed war through a results-driven peace process.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena expressed his nation's full sympathy with suffering Afghans, daily targeted by Taliban and their affiliated terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, ETIM, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and others with safe havens in Afghanistan’s neighborhood.
Ambassador Haidari recalled the defeat of terrorism by the Sri Lankan forces, who ended the unspeakable suffering that decades of terrorism had been inflicting on Sri Lankans. That's why he noted that Sri Lankans, more than any other nation in the region, feel the suffering of Afghans, as well as their desire for an end to the imposed war.
Both sides agreed to meet soon to exchange views on developing events in Afghanistan.
Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari spoke on a South Asian Ambassadors panel discussion re South Asia's Approach to the New Normal in the Post COVID19 World co-hosted by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 15, 2021.
He discussed the convergence of conflict, COVID19, and climate change with a focus on Afghanistan, which's been affected the most by the collision of the three man-made and natural disasters. He analyzed each challenge confronting Afghanistan and how their resolution needs tangible regional cooperation and international support.
In this regard, he highlighted this week's Dushanbe SCO Foreign Ministerial Meeting and the Tashkent South Asia and Central Asia Regional Connectivity Conference as timely opportunities for Afghanistan’s wider neighborhood to help stabilize the country against resurgent terrorism, which should pave the way for regional connectivity, trade, and people-to-people ties.