Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Taliban will Return if NATO Leaves, Stoltenberg Warns

Taliban will Return if NATO Leaves, Stoltenberg Warns

The NATO Ministerial will conclude with a meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan.
KABUL - NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said that the alliance and its allied partners must ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists.
Speaking at a pre-ministerial meeting in NATO headquarters, Stoltenberg stated that the challenge stills remain great in Afghanistan, adding that the cost of leaving is bigger than the cost of staying.
“We must continue to ensure that the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists. Over the past months, we have stepped up our support – with more forces and funding, Because the cost of leaving is bigger than the cost of staying,” said Stoltenberg.
According to the NATO chief, the challenge in Afghanistan still remains great.
In a question about the importance of the NATO presence in Afghanistan, NATO chief said: “It is important for NATO to keep its presence in Afghanistan, because we have to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a platform, to plan to organize, to execute terrorist attacks against our own countries... There is high cost of staying in Afghanistan, there is high financial cost for NATO allies and there is a high human cost. We have had fatalities also in the past weeks. but we have to compare the cost of staying with the cost of leaving.
"If NATO and NATO allies leave Afghanistan, we have to be prepared there is a high risk that the Taliban will come back, and the different terrorist organizations will be able to gain ground and establish strong footholds in Afghanistan. For instance, we know that al-Qaeda is there, we know that ISIS (Daesh) is there. So this is about helping Afghanistan, but its also about helping ourselves.
“it is important that Afghanistan holds elections, because elections are key to any democratic society. It is up to Afghan authorities to decide exactly when, taking into account the security situation and all other issues. I think there are some lessons learnt from the parliamentary elections, which should be taken into account while Afghanistan now prepares for the presidential elections. I was assured when I visited Afghanistan a few weeks ago that the elections would be held,” he said.
The NATO Ministerial will conclude with a meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan.
The statement comes at a time that during recent weeks, the US has extended its efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, aimed at ending the 17-year-long conflict in the country.
US President Donald Trump has sought Pakistan’s help, with Afghan peace talks in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the South Asian nation’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, said on Monday.
Trump wants to end a 17-year-old war between Afghan security forces and the Afghan Taliban militants, who are fighting to drive out international forces and establish their version of strict Islamic law, according to Reuters.
US officials have long been pushing Pakistan to lean on the Taliban leadership, which Washington says is based in the country, to bring them to the negotiating table.
“President Trump has written a letter,” Chaudhry told Reuters. “He has asked for Pakistan’s cooperation to bring the Taliban into talks.”
Last month, Trump said in an interview Pakistan doesn’t “do a damn thing” for the United States despite billions of dollars in US aid, adding that Pakistani officials knew of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s location before his killing by US troops in a 2011 raid inside Pakistan.
Khan retaliates
In response to Trump’s tweets, Khan also took to Twitter to retaliate:
“Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US's war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests."
Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should make a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before, Khan  said.
In addition, the US State Department has said the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, will start another leg of his regional tour aimed at helping the Afghan peace process reach a conclusion. He will travel to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with an inter-agency delegation from December 2 to 20, the US Department of State said in a statement on Sunday.
“Special Representative Khalilzad will be in communication with President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah and other Afghan stakeholders to coordinate closely on efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Afghan government and other Afghans,” the statement said.
On his last trip to the region in November, Khalilzad met with men and women active in civil society and peace efforts, members of the media, and other governmental and non-governmental officials, the statement added.
Last week, Khalilzad said that the Afghan people deserve peace as they have been at war for 40 years.
He said it would be good if there is an agreement with the Taliban ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.
“We are in hurry to end the Afghan tragedy," Khalilzad said in an interview. (Tolo news)