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Safe havens outside Afghanistan must be dismantled: Nicholson

Safe havens outside Afghanistan must be dismantled: Nicholson

Aug 24, 2017 - 18:29

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): NATOinfo-icon’s Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistaninfo-icon on Thursday said ‘terrorist safe havens’ outside Afghanistan must be dismantled and asked the Talibaninfo-icon to join the Afghan government-led peace process.

Addressing a joint press conference in Kabul, NATO and US-forces top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson and top diplomat Hugo Llorens said their country desired a government in Afghanistan that represented all communities.

Speaking days after US President Donald Trump announced his strategy on the war in Afghanistan, the two American officials said Afghanistan’s situation would determine America’s strategy in future.

In his new strategy President Trump ruled out a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, as he put Pakistan on notice for supporting terrorist groups.

In his prime-time address to the nation on America’s new policy toward South Asia, the president reached out to India for economic development of the country where US forces have been stationed for 16 years.

“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaida, would instantly fill just as happened before September 11,” said the president.

“A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I've said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options,” Trump added.

Nicholson said the US and NATO would not let the people of Afghanistan alone and would continue supporting the Afghan security forces.

He stressed: “We stand beside the Afghan security forces because the enemy of Afghanistan is the enemy of the entire worldinfo-icon and we will never face a defeat in Afghanistan.”

The US would not let Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorists to become a threat for the world and Afghanistan itself, the US general said.

Nicholson said the US and NATO supported the Afghan security forces in their fight against terrorist groups such as Taliban, Daesh, Haqqani Networkinfo-icon and others.

He said the new US strategy was aimed to reform and professionalize the Afghan security forces, eradicate corruption from the security sector.

The NATO forces commander said their train, advise and assistance mission of the Afghan security forces would be expanded because they spearheaded the conflict.

He said more focus would be paid to the Afghan Air Force in future and currently the AAF capabilities had enhanced.

Gen. Nicholson said the Taliban would never win because the new US strategy put more resources at NATO and US forces’ disposal. He said  it was the time for rebel groups to join peace.

Addressing the Taliban, he said: “Stop killing innocent people and your own citizens and accept the reconciliation. Shun violence and fighting. Don’t be a cause of poverty and misfortune for your own people. Help in Afghanistan’s development in order to make it a better place for your own children.”

“The Taliban have become a criminal gang and they reimburse their operation cost through smuggling of drugs”, he noted.

Gen. Nicholson further went on to say that Daesh had been defeated in Nangarhar and the militant group should know that they couldn’t find a foothold in Afghanistan as everywhere they went would be chased and vanquished.

He said the unity government leaders were committed to bringing the needed reforms within the government and security organs.

Without going into details, Gen. Nicholson said the US had initiated dialogue with Pakistaninfo-icon on eradicating terrorist safe-havens in the country.

He said the secret behind the success in Afghanistan was destruction of terrorist sanctuaries outside the country and cutting foreign support to terrorists.

Gen. Nicholson also notified about an increase in the number of US soldiers in Afghanistan, saying the orders had been given; however, the number of troops would not be specified.

“We admit the war in Afghanistan has been a long one for different reasons. Therefore, we are continuing our support and it is a time when we should be optimistic about future.”

Hugo Llorens, US chargé d'affaires, also spoke on the occasion, saying: “We will suppress the armed warriors in Afghanistan for the sake of peace in the country and we hope for a government that represents all the Afghans.”

He said the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be decided keeping in mind the country’s situation and from now on, the US strategy would be guided by the country’s conditions, and not on a time-based approach.

Currently, about 8,400 US troops are stationed in Afghanistan. Most of the US soldiers are busy imparting training and giving advice to Afghan security forces.

Both the unity leaders, President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, were committed to their promises regarding improvement in governance sector organs, peace, security and reforms, Llorens concluded.


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