Pakistani Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told the UN Security Council that his country's "restraint" in reacting to the recent killing and beheading of 17 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan "should not be taken for granted". The Taliban today released a video purporting to show the heads of the victims. UNTV
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1. Wide shot, exterior United Nations headquarters

27 JUNE 2012, NEW YORK

2. Wide shot, Security Council meeting
3. Med shot, delegates
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations:
“Although, as I already said, the number of incidents attributed to pro-government forces continues to decline and is a small portion of the total – and these forces, notably ISAF, continue to adopt vigorously measures to reduce civilian casualties – UNAMA has expressed repeatedly concern that aerial operations have resulted in more civilian deaths and injuries than any other tactic used by pro-government forces. So, let me say again, this ISAF decision is a welcome development.”
5. Med shot, delegates
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations:
“Circumstances around the world, including financial crises in major economies and competing demands for international attention, have combined to impact United Nations peace operations and they have led to shrinking budgets. This will also affect UNAMA. Expectations that the Mission will be able to do more, as transition proceeds, would not be unrealistic in the face of this greater fiscal austerity.”
7. Med shot, delegates
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, United Nations on Drugs and Crime:
“There are also signs that a plant disease may blight this year’s crop, as it did in 2010. But, plant disease offers no solution to the problem of Afghan’s opiates and stockpiles may well exist. We cannot afford to take our foot out of accelerator.”
9. Med shot, delegates
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations:
“Transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is our number one strategic priority. In that regard, I am pleased to note that we are making steady progress. The third tranche of security transition has officially commenced, which includes some of the most conflict prone provinces with the highest levels of insecurity. Needless to say, we are on track to complete the third phase before the end of the year, by which seventy-five percent of the population throughout the country will come under Afghan security force responsibility.”
11. Med shot, delegates
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations:
“Unlike others, we neither play the blame-game nor conduct diplomacy through media. Such restraint, however, should not be taken for granted. Preventing recurrence of such incidents is absolutely imperative, and safe havens for such people in Afghanistan must be dissuaded.”
13. Med shot, delegates
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations:
“I want to be clear that the United States does not seek any permanent American military bases. The post-2014 US presence will be shaped in close consultation with the Afghan government and will support Afghanistan’s social and economic development, security, institutions, and regional cooperation.”
15. Med shot, delegates
16. Wide shot, end of meeting

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The head of UN peacekeeping today (27 June) told the UN Security Council that “significant progress” has been made over the past months on Afghanistan’s path to self-reliance but that more needed to be done to prevent civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict.

On 14 June, an Afghan-led ministerial “Heart of Asia” conference in Kabul endorsed seven confidence building measures which address common threats and obstacles to regional stability, economic development and humanitarian response.

At today’s Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous noted that 2011 marked the fifth consecutive year of rising civilian casualties in the country.

While pointing out that “anti-government elements” were responsible for eighty percent of the casualties, Ladsous lauded the decision by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to limit airstrikes on civilian homes after one of its airstrikes killed 18 civilians in Logar province earlier this month.

On the future of the UN Assistance in Afghanistan (UNAMA), he said that shrinking budgets for UN peace operations will force it reduce its role in the country.
Speaking at the same meeting, the top UN official on drugs and crime, Yury Fedotov said that last year Afghanistan produced around 90 percent of the world’s opiates, and that illicit drugs and crime could undermine the country’s development.

He predicted that this year might see a decrease in opium production because a plant disease showed signs of re-emerging to damage crops, but said this would not be a solution to the problem. Efforts to combat the drug problem needed to continue and “we cannot afford to take our foot out of accelerator”.

Afghan Ambassador Zahir Tanin assured delegates that his country was making “steady progress” to eventually take on full responsibility for security. The third phase of the transition had begun, and Afghanistan was on track to bring seventy-five percent of the population under the Afghan security force responsibility before the end of the year.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon noted that the cross-border attack in which 17 Pakistani soldiers were killed and beheaded had been launched from a part of Afghanistan with a strong Afghan national army and international presence. He said this was a “grave incident”, and while Pakistan did not “play the blame-game nor conduct diplomacy through media”, such restraint “should not be taken for granted”. He called for any further such incidents to be prevented and said safe havens “for such people in Afghanistan” should not be allowed.

United States Ambassador Susan Rice welcomed progress towards Afghan self-reliance and underlined that “the United States does not seek any permanent American military bases” in the country. She said the post-2014 US presence would be “shaped in close consultation with the Afghan government and will support Afghanistan’s social and economic development, security, institutions, and regional cooperation”.

International donors will gather next month in Tokyo, Japan to decide on funding for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.

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