Chill­ing Statis­tics

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - WORLD -

An in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Afghanistan, “The Peace Process, In­ter­ac­tion to­wards Se­cu­rity, and Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion”, is due late March in Tashkent. The ur­gency of the meet­ing grows from one day to another, one may say. A telling tes­ti­mony to this ar­gu­ment is a re­cent re­port by UN ex­perts.

Noth­ing will help mir­ror the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan bet­ter than statis­tics: in the year 2017 alone, a to­tal of 3,438 res­i­dents from among peace­ful cit­i­zens were killed in the coun­try, cou­pled with 7,015 in­jured. The num­ber of ca­su­al­ties com­pared to 2016 de­creased by 9%, but the num­ber of deaths from the hands of sui­cide bombers, as well as peo­ple who have been blown up by mines, in­creased. In 2017, air strikes of the in­ter­na­tional armed forces and the air force of Afghanistan grew in fre­quency and mag­ni­tude. The num­ber of their vic­tims com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year rose by 7 per­cent: 295 Afghans were killed and 336 were in­jured. The most ter­ri­ble side of this sit­u­a­tion is that the prin­ci­pal vic­tims of the con­flict are women and chil­dren. Last year, 359 women were killed and 865 in­jured in the coun­try. The num­ber of suf­fer­ers among chil­dren: 861 killed and 2,318 wounded.

The UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hus­sein, and the head of the United Na­tions As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Ya­mamoto im­me­di­ately re­acted to the an­nounce­ment of the fig­ures.

Afghanistan’s civil­ians are killed daily: when they ride on a bus, pray in mosques, just pass by the build­ing that was the ob­ject of the at­tack. Peo­ple from year to year con­tinue to live in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions, but at the same time those re­spon­si­ble for the fact that peo­ple are dy­ing and live in con­stant fear go un­pun­ished, al-Hus­sein said in a state­ment.

“The chill­ing statis­tics in this re­port pro­vide cred­i­ble data about the war’s im­pact, but the fig­ures alone can­not cap­ture the ap­palling hu­man suf­fer­ing in­flicted on or­di­nary peo­ple,” said UNAMA chief Ya­mamoto.

In­ter­na­tional ex­perts agree that Tashkent, through ef­fec­tive diplo­macy and prac­ti­cal strides, has been work­ing to­wards plau­si­ble ef­fects in en­sur­ing peace in Afghanistan. In­dica­tive of this have been the re­cent talks be­tween For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­du­laziz Kamilov and his col­leagues in In­dia and Pak­istan as well as the Pres­i­dent of Iran, when the ne­go­ti­a­tions fo­cused on Afghanistan.

Ob­vi­ous as it is, cre­ation of a se­cu­rity belt around Uzbek­istan is in­con­ceiv­able with­out the set­tle­ment of the Afghan cri­sis and ar­range­ment of post-con­flict re­con­struc­tion. Tashkent has al­ways been a sup­porter of a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion through talks, and the year 2017 once again clearly un­der­scored that as­pi­ra­tion. The re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions were af­forded such dy­nam­ics last year that the bi­lat­eral meet­ings were far from episodic.

Thus, in Kabul, the Uzbek gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion was re­ceived in early 2017 by the Pres­i­dent of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the head of the ex­ec­u­tive branch Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah and the Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Salahud­din Rab­bani. As a re­sult of the meet­ings, the two sides elab­o­rated and adopted a roadmap for the devel­op­ment of co­op­er­a­tion. Its im­ple­men­ta­tion, ac­cord­ing to fore­casts of spe­cial­ists, will make it pos­si­ble to in­crease the bi­lat­eral turnover man­i­fold in the com­ing years and bring it up to 1.5 bil­lion US dol­lars. The ef­fects of the talks did not make one to wait long; in fact, for the first eight months of 2017 the vol­ume of mu­tual trade be­tween Uzbek­istan and Afghanistan grew by 21.8%.

The shared de­sire to en­hance trade and eco­nomic ties re­sulted in agree­ments on or­ga­niz­ing an­nual long-term sup­plies from Uzbek­istan to Afghanistan of up to 300,000 tons of min­eral fer­til­iz­ers, two thou­sand units of agri­cul­tural machin­ery, 250,000 tons of wheat and other prod­ucts in de­mand on the Afghan mar­ket. In ad­di­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of busi­nesses con­cluded con­tracts for the sup­ply of medicines and med­i­cal prod­ucts, am­bu­lances, food wheat, elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances to Afghanistan.

The cul­mi­na­tion of bi­lat­eral ac­tiv­ity oc­curred in late 2017, when Uzbek­istan was vis­ited by Ashraf Ghani. That was the sixth meet­ing of the two heads of state for the year.

As a re­sult of talks at the high­est level, 20 doc­u­ments were signed, as were more than 40 ex­port con­tracts to­tal­ing over $ 500 mil­lion, an agree­ment was reached on es­tab­lish­ing a com­mis­sion on se­cu­rity is­sues, open­ing a con­sulate of Afghanistan in Ter­mez, build­ing a power trans­mis­sion line and a rail­way in the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic.

2018 also started in the same way. In Fe­bru­ary, the UzbekAfghan Joint Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion met in Tashkent for the first time and the Uzbek For­eign Min­is­ter held talks with the Se­nior Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser to the Pres­i­dent of Afghanistan, Mo­ham­mad Ha­neef At­mar. Then, spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance was at­tached on the prepa­ra­tions for the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Afghanistan sched­uled for late March. One of its key out­comes should be the urge of par­tic­i­pants to all groups of armed op­po­si­tion in Afghanistan to cease all vi­o­lence.

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