U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster urged Russia, Pakistan, and other countries in the region over the weekend not to lend support to the Afghan Taliban in their efforts to “perpetuate” the war in Afghanistan.
“No one should support the Taliban. No one should support armed resistance against the Afghan government and the Afghan people,” declared President Donald Trump’s adviser when asked to comment on Russia’s contacts with the Taliban terrorists.
“What we would like is all countries in the region to play a productive role, a positive role and to help the Afghan people rather than to try to perpetuate this very long conflict,” he added.
Without elaborating, McMaster noted that those who are prolonging and fueling Afghan violence “ought to be exposed and held accountable.”
According to Afghan officials, McMaster discussed bilateral security matters, combating terrorism in the region, and strengthening the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which includes police and military troops.
In response to the Taliban harboring Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 soon after the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. military has been fighting the terrorist group since. Under the previous U.S. administration, the Taliban was able to gain control of more territory than during any time since American troops removed it from power.
Rules of engagement (ROE) put implemented during the former president’s tenure prohibited U.S. troops from offensively shooting at the Taliban. The rules only allowed American troops to attack when the Taliban shot first.
President Trump has granted the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan greater leeway to act independently and use force.
In the interview with TOLO News, McMaster sounded confident that Taliban jihadists who fail to join the peace process will be defeated.
“The Taliban must be defeated as well. They can be defeated in a number of ways. For those that are reconcilable, who are now willing to join their Afghan brothers to strengthen the Afghan state, to end the violence, to be part of the political process, I think your president and the chief executive officer they will welcome them back in. So it is their choice now,” proclaimed Trump’s adviser.
Last week, Russia invited Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India, and five former Soviet Central Asian states for a round of talks on security and peace in Afghanistan.
Notably, the United States did not participate.
“The meeting ended with Moscow offering to host peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, though the insurgent group had already dismissed the conference as an event motivated by the political agendas of the organizers,” reports Voice of America (VOA).
McMaster also visited neighboring Pakistan, noting that the country does not target all Islamic terrorist groups.
The lieutenant general told TOLO:
As all of us have hoped for many many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past, and the best way to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy, not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.
The Pentagon has accused Pakistan of serving a sanctuary for jihadists who fight against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
According to the U.S. military, the U.S.-Pakistan region is home to the largest concentration of Islamic terrorist groups in the world.
Referring to the United States dropping a massive bomb on the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in its Afghan stronghold last week, McMaster said:
Well, it is not just the bomb, but it is really what our soldiers are doing every day alongside courageous Afghan soldiers, fighting Daesh [ISIS], ensuring that these people who victimized women, who shoot people in hospital beds, we cannot tolerate the existence of that kind of an organization.
The United States targeted ISIS in its stronghold of Nangarhar province, located in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.
Without President Trump’s approval, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S./NATO commander in Afghanistan, issued the order to launch the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb on a network of ISIS caves and tunnels, killing nearly 100 jihadists in Nangarhar’s Achin district.