An Afghan commando on January 3 keeps watch during US-Afghan military operations against ISIS militants in Achin District, Nangarhar Province. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]
KABUL -- Army chiefs and other military officials from 12 countries have pledged to jointly fight terrorism and drugs, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
The two-day conference held Monday-Tuesday (February 12-13) was initiated by US Central Command (CENTCOM) and included high-ranking Afghan, US and NATO military officials and their counterparts from Central Asian countries, as well as Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
"In this meeting, high-ranking military officials from 12 countries have pledged to provide security for Afghanistan and the region in general, and to jointly fight terrorism and narcotics," Gen. Mohammad Radmanesh, deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, told Salaam Times.
"The defence officials from Central and South Asian countries got together in Kabul to discuss the security matters which have impacted the region," Capt. Tom Gresback, a spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
"The meeting provided the participating senior officials with the opportunity to realise the existing opportunities to maintain regional security and stability, and to establish permanent peace and security in Afghanistan," he said.
Analysts have viewed the meeting as key to the fight against terrorism, as well as to regional peace and stability.
"This is an important meeting in the fight against terrorism and illicit drugs in terms of its agenda as well as its pool of participants," Asadullah Nadim, a military affairs analyst in Kabul, told Salaam Times.
"Co-operation among regional countries, especially between Pakistan and Afghanistan, is the only way to fight terrorism," he said.
"The security of Pakistan is directly connected to peace and stability in Afghanistan," he said. "Hence, the two countries' co-ordinated co-operation in the fight against terrorism and also for the realisation of peace and stability is a necessity."
"Pakistan plays a vital role both in peace and in conflict in Afghanistan," Sayyed Hamed Anwari, a Kabul-based political analyst, told Salaam Times.
"In yesterday's meeting, [Bajwa] made a commitment to fight terrorism," he said. "There is high hope for establishing security and stability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided that Pakistan holds true to its commitment."
"Lack of security and stability in Afghanistan is detrimental to all countries in the region," Anwari said. "Terrorism is a serious threat to all countries in the region and beyond."
As such, he said, military officials from the United States and regional countries have concluded that a joint fight is the only way to destroy terrorism and reach peace and stability.
"We in the international community are here to support all Afghans," Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and US Forces Afghanistan, said in a statement after the meeting.
"We have the shared interest of preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorism," he said.
Faced with increased pressure from the stronger Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, and US combat power supporting them, he said, "the Taliban cannot win."
"There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group," Nicholson said. "We continue to strike them wherever we find them. We continue to hunt them across the country."
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