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US refuses to let Afghanistan become extremist 'sanctuary': Pentagon

AFP

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Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (R), with US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, conducts a press briefing in Washington August 28. [JIM WATSON/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The Taliban must ensure that Afghanistan does not become a sanctuary for extremists, top US defense officials said Wednesday (August 28), as peace negotiations with the militant group appear to be nearing their conclusion.

Talks with the Taliban in Qatar must guarantee that Afghanistan "is no longer a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States", Defence Secretary Mark Esper told reporters.

No space for terrorists

A deal on drawing down the 13,000 US troops in the country, after fighting for nearly two decades, must not leave al-Qaeda, the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and other US-designated terrorist organisations space to continue their activities, said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I'm not using the 'withdrawal' word right now," Dunford said, standing next to Esper.

"We're going to make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary, and we're going to try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan."

It is clear that Afghanistan needs a negotiated solution involving not just the United States but the Afghan government, emphasised Dunford.

"I view any agreement that would be pending is something we are doing with, not to, the Afghan people."

"I think an agreement that can initiate inter-Afghan dialogue, potentially leading to a reduction in violence associated with the insurgency, is something that's worth trying," he said.

'We want stability'

"I think any of us who have served there have long known that what's going to be required is a negotiated peace settlement," he said.

"We want stability for the Afghan people."

Any agreement is going to be "conditions based", he said, adding that it was "premature" to talk about "what our counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan may or may not be".

"The president and the secretary have made it quite clear to me that, as this progresses, we ensure that our counter-terrorism objectives are addressed."

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I have not visited America, but I thank it for its support along with the international community to rebuilt Afghan National Army, National Police, National Security [intelligence] and especially the special forces and the commando forces for our country because Afghanistan's entire system was destroyed by Pakistani assigned Afghan militias [jihadi groups].

The second point is that, I would like to warn Americans not to surrender to Pakistan's demands in Qatar negotiations, else, this will cause a historical shame for a super power like America that it will not compensate it in a hundred years. Following the Soviet Union's defeat, Benazir Bhutto in a statement in Saudi Arabia said that it was Pakistan who defeated the Soviet Union.

If America wants, it can compel Pakistan in 24 hours to have Taliban surrendered from Hibatullah to the lowest level Taliban members to Afghanistan and America. America is not supposed to give ransom to Pakistan but it is responsibility of the whole world including Pakistan to prevent destruction in their countries, otherwise, as Bush said they have to clear the air and stand either beside the terrorists or with the international community and wait for the consequences.

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Never. That is only propagation and it misleads Afghans.

Now America has begun work on a new policy. They want to establish a new group and begin a fight because that is what history has proven. For example, they created Taliban [may mean Mujahedeen] against Doctor Najibullah, Taliban against Mujahedeen, the current Afghan government against Taliban, and now they are creating ISIS against both of them and that is their project.

As long as America does not find another alternative country of Afghanistan, this terrorist America will continue its fighting in Afghanistan.

On the other side, terrorists' safe havens, hideouts, training centers are located in the terrorist Pakistan. America and other supporting countries know well, but still they receiving training in the terrorist Pakistan and then they come to Afghanistan for fighting. A good example is Osama. Where was he killed? Where was Mullah Omar killed? Where was Mullah Mansoor killed? And where is Haqqani network?

I think Osama is not killed, he is furthering his business in New York and there he helps the American officials in the ongoing war. In short, America has begun this war and they keep it continuing this way. The terrorists are in Pakistan, while fighting is in Afghanistan. What logic will accept this?

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