The US’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said this week that in order to ensure security in Afghanistan a negotiated political solution needs to be found with the inclusion of Pakistan.
In an interview with TOLO news, Wells said continued pressure on the Taliban and Pakistan was needed. “Ultimately the solution to Afghanistan’s security and stability would lie in a political resolution.”
“But until then we are going to pressure the Taliban and we are going to support the really courageous and brave Afghan National Security Forces,” Wells added.
According to her, US President Donald Trump was clear on Pakistan when he revealed his strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia last year. “We see an opportunity for Pakistan to secure its legitimate interests through support for a negotiated settlement. We see the South Asia strategy as an opportunity for Pakistan,” she said.
Further, Wells said, “The fact that the president made the decision to suspend military assistance to Pakistan reflects a level of disappointment that we haven’t seen more aggressive efforts by Pakistan to disrupt the ability of the Taliban to operate, particularly across the border.”
She said Pakistan needed to be part of a wider solution for Afghanistan, adding that a dialogue with Pakistan continued on the US’s part. It was important to achieve results around peace that were mutually beneficial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan, she said.
On the recent spate of attacks in Kabul – specifically, the deadly bombing late January which killed over 100 people – Wells said such attacks showed that some elements within the Taliban who were not prepared to work for peace.
She said this vision for peace had the support of the international community, which was scheduled to meet later this month for the Kabul Process. She also said the US understands the courage it takes to continue to stand for peace.
“We need to keep the pressure on the Taliban and recognise that it is the Taliban that has prevented your country, your society from moving forward,” she added.
Asked about contradicting reports around Daesh in the country – with some quarters stating the group was not a serious threat, while others have raised concern about their increasing presence– Wells said US was concerned “about some countries efforts to justify their relationship with the Taliban in order to fight against ISIS (Daesh).”
She said, however, that it was the Taliban that had allowed this “ecosystem” to develop where “terrorist groups like ISIS-Khorasan (Daesh) could take root”.
Moreover, Wells said the only way to defeat Daesh in Afghanistan was by defeating the Taliban and ensuring the Afghan security forces have the capacity and strength to sustain this battle.
On other issues relating to the National Unity Government, its stability, elections and the matter of President Ashraf Ghani having ousted Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor, she said that the US supported the Afghan government in all its challenges and that it was standing by the IEC in order to ensure transparent elections, adding that some issues were internal matters that needed to be resolved by the NUG.
According to the US embassy in Kabul, Wells, who was on a three-day visit to Kabul this week, met with Afghan officials, including President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.