NATO is expecting to take its final decision about increasing a few thousand more troops to Afghanistan to end the current “stalemate” and to further strengthen Afghan special forces and Air force in the month of June, NATO top official said on Wednesday.
“We have recently completed our regular review of our training mission. And our military commanders have asked for a few thousand more troops. We are currently in the process of force generation and I expect final decisions to be taken next month,” speaking ahead of NATO meeting, the allies Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
Further accepting the “challenging” security situation in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General said that in Afghanistan the aim is to find a “negotiated political settlement”. He urged Russia to be “part of an Afghan-led peace process”.
He also praised Afghan forces for being able to hold their ground against insurgents attacks.
“We have also transformed our approach to fighting terrorism. In Afghanistan, we have moved from a combat role to a training role. This has shown us the value of supporting local forces in their fight against terrorism.”
Currently, NATO has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, of whom about 8,400 are American troops.
Recently, the U.S.-led NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, asked for a “few thousand” troops to break the current – what he called “stalemate” in the country.
The U.S. and its allies are expected to deploy 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops to assist, train and support the Afghan forces, but already a number of countries including Germany have announced that it is not looking to increase its presence in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, heads of State and Government in NATO will meet in Brussels where the U.S. President Donald will participate as well to discuss NATO’s contribution to fight against terrorism and burden-sharing.
Pakistan envoy says trade between Islamabad and Kabul continues to grow
Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul, said Sunday that cooperation has expanded between Islamabad and Kabul in the areas of trade and transit, and that imports and exports between the two nations have increased.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event at the embassy in Kabul, to mark the 75th anniversary of independence, Ahmad Khan said Islamabad has collaborated with Kabul in resolving its problems during the last year, adding that Pakistan is committed to continuing cooperation with Afghanistan.
He also added that border tensions between the two countries have been resolved.
“Our relationship with Afghanistan is very good and we tried to make it good. In the past year, there were many problems for Afghanistan, but Pakistan helped and cooperated with Afghanistan, and these cooperations were in the areas of evacuation, humanitarian aid and creating facilities at the borders. Also, in the transit and trade sector, our cooperation has increased, exports and imports have also increased and we are committed to always cooperating with Afghanistan,” said Ahmad Khan.
He however emphasized that despite challenges the IEA had over the past year, it did not have satisfactory performances.
He has also said that education is the basic right of all people and women who make up 50 percent of the society should have access to education.
“Education is considered an important part of the country, in the same way, women make up 50 percent of the society. The current government of Afghanistan also says that it is working on the education of women in Afghanistan,” he added. “They are working on a process so that girls can continue their education according to Islamic conditions and according to Afghan culture.”
Moreover, this Pakistani official considers the fight against terrorism as a common goal in the region and added that the war against terrorism is currently underway.
The ambassador of Pakistan in Kabul also emphasized that the problem of issuing Pakistani visas will be completely resolved in the coming days.
More than 600,000 Afghans return home in past year
The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation said Sunday that in the last year, more than 600,000 Afghans have returned to the country.
Mohammad Arsala Kharoti, Deputy Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Affairs said at a press conference, as part of the IEA’s accountability program: “622,800 Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, Iran and other countries under the rule of the Islamic Emirate, and 116,868 returnees in the border provinces have received humanitarian aid.”
According to officials, 272,925 internally displaced families were identified in the past year, 78,421 families were transferred to their native provinces and 860,640 families received humanitarian aid.
In addition, education has been provided for 8,400 returnees and internally displaced persons, and 1,600 Afghans has been stopped from leaving the country illegally.
According to the ministry, the management of the transfer and distribution of humanitarian aid from China, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar and Pakistan, the distribution of aid to 7,000 flood victims in Helmand and Kandahar, the distribution of emergency aid to the victims of Jawzjan, Badakhshan, Badghis, Khost and Paktika, the transfer of 36,000 displaced families from Kabul, fair distribution of humanitarian aid from Al-Khidmat Institute in Paktika, collecting aid for 1,000 families in Panjshir, organizing vocational training courses and distributing equipment to 160 families, are some of the actions of this ministry in the past year.
Officials said due to the follow-up efforts of the leadership of this ministry, during the current year, 250 Afghan immigrants living in Pakistan and Iran were able to perform Hajj.
According to the officials, the necessary arrangements have been made with Pakistan, China, Iran and Turkey regarding the handling of the situation of Afghan immigrants, the provision of services and the establishment of an orphanage with a capacity of 20 thousand people, and in order to provide emergency services, distribute aid and create economic opportunities 47 memorandums of understanding have been signed with partner institutions and organizations.
Karzai says despite the onset of ‘peace’, Afghanistan is facing immense hardships
Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that despite the tumultuous past year, Afghans are “happier” that there is no longer a large-scale war being waged in their country.
He said the conflict, which caused loss of Afghan lives on both sides, was “fortunately over” but that Afghanistan is facing “immense difficulties”.
In an interview with India Today, to coincide with the one year anniversary of the take over by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Karzai said “Afghanistan is facing immense difficulties” economically. He said this was compounded by the loss of skilled Afghans who migrated.
Karzai said however, that the ruling IEA was still a way off from winning the trust of the international community in terms of being recognized as the new government.
He said that many of the IEA leaders agree “with an Afghanistan that’s inclusive, with an Afghanistan that has girls going to school, and an Afghanistan that is working hard towards well-being and a better economy.”
“With regard to recognition by the international community it is based on two fundamental conditions to be fulfilled. One is the fulfilling of the needs of the Afghan people, the education of girls is one such issue, and then inclusivity is another such issue,” he said.
“Once this is fulfilled and the Afghan people see that the country is moving in the direction that’s in the interests of the people, and the country of course, automatically the question of international recognition will be resolved.”
Karzai also emphasized that “the people of Afghanistan have been victims of terrorism for a long long time,” adding that he feels with certainty that the people of Afghanistan “are the greatest victims of terrorism and extremism.”
“Unfortunately at the same time, the Afghan people are also victims of the fight against terrorism; so we have suffered both from terrorism and from the consequences of the fight against terrorism,” he said.
He also stated that Afghans do not want terrorists in their country, whether it be groups or individuals, but at the same time Afghans do not want their sovereignty violated in the name of the fight against terrorism.
Regarding the US’s claims that it killed the al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul last month, Karzai pointed out that the IEA said at the time that it was not aware of his presence in the country but that they would carry out an investigation into the claims and incident.
Emphasizing the dire economic situation, exacerbated by the mass migration of skilled workers, Karzai said: “One of the greatest losses of our country in the past one year has been the leaving of our educated and capable people from our own country; the loss of this educated part of the Afghan population is an immense irreparable loss and our effort is exactly this to have an Afghanistan where all the Afghan people can come back, where all the Afghan people can be working in and participating in, where all the Afghan people find their country to be belonging to all of us; this is our effort and this has to succeed for the well- being of all including for the current government.”
He said it is up to the current government, the IEA, to make sure that those Afghans return and that they find place in their own country and respect in their own country
and an environment where they can work and grow and prosper together with all the Afghan people.
“The Taliban (IEA) and all other Afghans belong to this country and we need to work together for a better Afghanistan; that is imperative for us to be independent, strong and growing,” he said.
On Afghan-Indian relations, he called on New Delhi to reopen its embassy in Kabul “in full strength” and to allow Afghan students to return to India for study purposes.
Karzai said he was confident the IEA would do its best to provide security to the Indian embassy should it reopen in Kabul.
He also stated that he wants Afghanistan “to be a place of cooperation between our neighbors and big powers,” adding that Afghanistan’s relations with India are historic and go back centuries”.
In conclusion he said: “I have hopes for Afghanistan; very very good hopes for Afghanistan. This country will be fine, this country will do well; I’m also hopeful that things will change for the better in Afghanistan.
“Definitely there is a need for certain changes in the policies of the current government, the issue of girls going to school is extremely important; that must change, and those schools must reopen immediately; and inclusivity and so many other issues that have to be addressed, that we are working on.
But on the whole, he said Afghanistan is a very old country and that temporary setbacks and difficulties “will not stop it from the long march towards a better future.”
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