A number of the Taliban militants and insurgents belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Khorasan have joined peace process in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Officials in the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army in the East said the militants were previously busy conducting insurgency and terrorist related activities in the southern parts of the province. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far. Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militants have increased their insurgency activities in some districts of the province during the recent years.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has warned that President Donald Trump is prepared to take whatever actions are necessary if Washington’s efforts fail to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan. Relations and ties between Islamabad and Washington have deteriorated since President Trump announced the new US strategy for South Asia and strongly criticized Pakistan for sheltering the terrorist groups. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States General Joseph Dunford has confirmed that the military intelligence of Pakistan’s military, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has connections with the terror group. However, Islamabad has repeatedly rejected the allegations although in some stances the country’s senior officials have admitted the presence of some of the notorious terrorist networks and leaders, including Haqqani network.
The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has opposed with the bid to close the Taliban office in Qatar as he insisted that his party supports the legitimate demands of the group. According to Hekmatyar, those who are attempting to extend the war in Afghanistan and stand against peace and reconciliation, have became hopeless. He once again reiterated his previous claims regarding the individuals and groups who had paved the way for civil war, emphasizing that with the return of him, the individuals and groups have failed to implement their conspiracies. Sources privy of the development have said President Trump has discussed the issue with Afghan counterpart President Ghani.
In the wake of new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia the environment has changed and new opportunities have come into existence for Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani told a high-level British official on Monday. British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth, Mark Field, and President Ghani exchanged views on various topics, including the US strategy of Afghanistan and South Asia, peace and stability in the region and Afghanistan, upcoming elections, transit and trade, and other regional affairs. A statement from the Presidential Palace received by Pajhwok Afghan News said President Ghani expressed gratitude to the government and people of United Kingdom for its assistances to Afghanistan in the past few years. Ghani said as a result of the US strategy, the environment changed and fresh opportunities took shape for Afghanistan that would be achieved in collaboration with international partners in order for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and beyond.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Pakistani army chief of staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa held talks on key bilateral issues. President Ghani hailed the visit by the Pakistani officials as an important step considering the current situation and opportunity available for cooperation. The statement further added that the two sides discussed various issues, specifically regional security, bilateral relations, peace and stability, fight against terror, trade and transit relations, and mid-term and long-term bilateral relations. They also reaffirmed the support of Islamabad for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. President Ghani said peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be better for the two countries and for the region, emphasizing that only through peace and stability the poverty could be eradicated from the two countries.
Suicide bombers and militants firing mortars attacked Kabul’s airport during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday, prompting a U.S. air strike that accidentally killed civilians, officials said. The clashes and casualties overshadowed a visit intended to demonstrate U.S. support for the Afghan government and provided a sharp reminder of the risks associated with a more aggressive U.S. policy that is expected to increase the number of air strikes. Hours after Mattis touched down in Kabul, militants fired high explosive ammunition including mortar rounds near the main airport and detonated several suicide vests in an attack claimed by both the Taliban and Islamic State. Mattis’ visit came after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for Afghanistan, promising a stepped-up military campaign against the Taliban who have gained ground as they seek to re-establish their brand of Islamic law after their 2001 defeat.
Afghanistan today didn’t mince words in declaring at the UN that terror in Afghanistan is the “product of (a) long-standing policy” of Pakistan. Afghanistan also said that that terror’s “roots are located in terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens outside” its borders. With its unequivocal declarations, Afghanistan today joined US President Donald Trump, the BRICS countries, Japan and India in naming and shaming Pakistan, a country many have come to call a “terrorist state”. Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani said – at the UNSC’s open debate on Afghanistan – that while Afghanistan has tried to resolve issues with Pakistan, the latter hasn’t responded positively. Rabbani’s comments came a little over a month after Trump outlined his administration’s strategy for Afghanistan where the US has been involved in a long drawn out conflict, since 9/11/2001.
The Afghan government’s mission in the United Nations strongly reacted at the allegations of the Pakistani Prime Minister regarding the terror sanctuaries in Afghanistan by raising questions regarding the safe havens and places where the Al-Qaeda and Taliban founds were killed or died as well as the killing of the former Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. “My delegation is exercising its right of reply because of an erroneous claim by one member-state regarding the presence of safe-havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan”, the Afghan mission in UN said in a statement. The statement further added “Such reference is a deliberate attempt by the government of Pakistan to divert international attention over Pakistan’s longstanding failure to take effective action against various terrorist groups and sanctuaries on its territory. It remains evidently clear to the global community that the propagation of terrorist activities by State and non-State actors in neighboring Pakistan constitutes the main source of insecurity in our country Afghanistan and the wider region”.
The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily as he called on the group to engage in intra-Afghan talks to end the violence. Speaking during the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, President Ghani welcomed the announcement of the new US strategy, calling it a comprehensive which Afghans have been demanding since long ago. “The strategy consolidates all instruments of American power, conveying a message that the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily. Only through political settlement can we achieve enduring peace and I call upon all ranks of Taliban to engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue”, he said. He also added the Afghan government has proven that we are committed to peace through our own internal processes, as demonstrated by the peace agreement with Hizb-i-Islami. “Now, we call on all of our neighbors, near and far, to join us through the Kabul process in our comprehensive quest for peace and regional stability”. According to President Ghani, today, there are over 20 international terrorist groups with an imposed presence on Afghan soil.
“We now have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbours on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism. Now, we call on all of our neighbours, near and far, to join us through the Kabul process in our comprehensive quest for peace and regional stability. I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state-to-state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity”, Ghani addressed a conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Ghani appealed to the international community to change their perspective regarding Afghanistan’s problem. “For too long, the conflict in Afghanistan has been viewed through the prism of civil war. But this war is not within our soil, it is over our soil”, he said. Ghani also laid emphasis on the Rohingya crisis, Afghanistan’s role in regional counter-terrorism and the renewal on UN institutions.