Taliban cannot win militarily, time to join reconciliation: Gen. Nicholson

Pakistan must take decisive action against militant groups, based in its soil: U.S. Ambassador

General-John-NicholsonKABUL: Days after the US announced a new Afghan strategy, the top US and NATO commander in the country warned the Taliban cannot win on the battle field and it is time for them to join the peace and reconciliation process, instead of continuing to kill more innocent Afghans.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan here, General Nicholson, said that “The united states, our NATO allies and partners are with you (Afghanistan)”, adding “we stand with your (Afghan) security forces against terrorists and the enemies of Afghanistan and the enemies of the entire world.”

“With the announcement of this policy the Taliban cannot win on the battle field it is time for them to join the peace process, let me stress our continuing support to Afghanistan, our commitment to the great people of Afghanistan,” he added.

He stated that there is an opportunity and hope for the future, the Afghan people want peace and the international community is with them in this journey, it is assured vision that the allies can all work together.

The United States has determined to continue support the Afghan security forces in the fight against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Daesh, Al-Qaeda and all terrorist groups that pose threat to the Afghan people, he asserted.

Gen. Nicholson said that “We are determined to pursue the goal of a political settlement, as these terrorist groups realized that they cannot win on the battle field, they will see that their best option is to pursue peace.”

He noted the Taliban have never won against the Afghan commandos and never will, therefore they cannot win, he noted.

He elaborated that “we will not fail in Afghanistan our national security as well as Afghanistan national security and the security of all our allies and partners depend upon this.”

He asked the Taliban to stop fighting against their country now, stop killing innocent civilians, stop bringing misery and hardship to the Afghan people and lay down their arms and join Afghan society, help and build a better future for this county and their own children.

Pointing to Daesh or ISIS-K Gen. Nicholson said that this terror group has been crashed in Nangarhar and “we will pursue them, where they go.”

Responding to a question, General Nicholson said that the policy announced by President Trump addresses directly in the fact the United States is going to engage in a dialogue with Pakistan to eliminate external enablement for the Taliban, the dialogue with Pakistan will be done in private and its already started and so “I will leave it to my national leadership” to talk about the future steps with Pakistan.

Meanwhile U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Hugo Llorens said that “Pakistan is an important partner for achieving our priorities in the region, it must take decisive action against militant groups, based in Pakistan that are a threat to Afghanistan.”

He said that Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with US in the region, including on areas where “we have mutual interest,” such as the facilitation of a peace process that will lead to a stable, peaceful Afghanistan.

He insisted that the US must maintain pressure on the Taliban to join a peace process with the Afghan government to end the war in Afghanistan.

‘We will remove the incentives for the hedging behavior by some that leads to support for the Taliban, and we will emphasize with all regional countries the importance of cooperation to reduce the threat of terrorism and nuclearized conflict” he added.

Pakistan and India will play a large part of this plan, and in the coming days and weeks US will seek help from Afghanistan’s neighbors to assist in the fight, he noted.

US Ambassador said that under the new strategy, “we will integrate all instruments of U.S. power – diplomatic, economic, military, and intelligence – toward achieving the ultimate goal of a political settlement that protects U.S. and Afghanistan’s vital interests.”

By Farhad Naibkhel, Kabul

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