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Don’t let politics harm security, Nicholson asks politicians

Don’t let politics harm security, Nicholson asks politicians

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Mar 01, 2018 - 10:17

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): A top American military commander has asked Afghanistaninfo-icon’s political leaders not to let politics undermine the security situation in the country.

“We’re in this together. We’re fighting terrorism together and everyone wants a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan to succeed,” Gen. John Nicholson said.

In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News to mark his two years in command on March 2, General John Nicholson said  he respected Afghanistan’s political process and leadership.

Commitments from the United States, NATOinfo-icon and the entire international community showedthe foreigners were in Afghanistan for the welfare of all Afghans.

Asked to comment on the Balkh crisis after ex-governorAtta Mohammad Noor’s refusal to step down, he dispelled the impression the US was not playing its role in resolving the dispute.

Nicholson said President Trump’s South Asia policy stressed externalinfo-icon support to insurgents in Afghanistan was not acceptable. Trump was clear on the direction of the policy on sanctuaries for terrorists, he added.

There have been high-level engagements between Washington and Islamabad and pressure must be put on the enemy both in Pakistaninfo-icon and Afghanistan to nudge them into reconciliation, he said.

“The war on terrorism is the most important fight in the worldinfo-icon: Your enemies are our enemies. The US, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and the international community are committed to Afghanistan and we will maintain our resolve.

“We respect the sacrifices of the Afghan people and the security forces of Afghanistan. We’re going to stay with you, so you can have the peace and prosperity you and your children deserve.”

Nicholson, who has spent almost six years in Afghanistan, felt honoured commanding US, NATO and partner troops in the country. He claimed seeing steady improvements over the past decade.

“We must deliver on the service and sacrifice of Afghan and international forces and the Afghan people. We’re protecting the US and our allies and partners by being here as well as protecting Afghanistan...”

He believed the Afghan security forces were becoming more professional and more capable. Thatis why the undefeated commandos are being doubled and the air force being tripled.

He went on to refer to the appointment of new leaders at the highest levels of the ministries of defence and interior and at the six corps around the country.

Changes through the Inherent Law, giving honourable retirement to the older generation of officers, had opened opportunities for young leaders to take charge, he noted.

“What makes me very hopeful and proud for the future of Afghanistan’s security forces is when I see hundreds of new soldiers, including womeninfo-icon, graduate from the military academy; when I see commandos training; when I see Afghan pilots flying more and more missions across the country.

“This is a new ANDSF ready to serve all the people of Afghanistan. They are brave, selfless and constantly developing into a more professional force,” the commander commented.

Because of improvements in ANDSF due to President Ghani’s reform efforts, he said, the Afghan forces had been able to stay on the offensiveeven in the winter.

The Talibaninfo-icon, faced with failure on the battlefield, had turned to targeting civilians in mass attacks in cities, exposing their hypocrisy as never before, the general continued.

In the last two years, Nicholson said, the Taliban tried hard to capture provinces and provincial capitals but failed. They tried to take districts and they failed to hold them, he maintained.

He alleged 90 percent of opium was grown in areas being controlled by the Taliban control, who wanted instability so they could profit from their criminal activity.

The Afghan government had taken action against corruption, showing that no one was above the law by jailing more than a hundred senior individuals in 2017, he said.

“But we have much more work to do in combatting corruption. The problems of drugs, corruption and warlordism are all connected, and will be solved by improving security...”

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