Latest News – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Wed, 12 Dec 2018 17:50:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Khalilzad to Meet NATO Chief in Brussels Tomorrow Wed, 12 Dec 2018 16:18:25 +0000

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Thursday (Dec. 13).  

According to a press release issued today on the NATO website, Ambassador Khalilzad will also address the North Atlantic Council.

Khalilzad’s visit to NATO HQ comes as part of his third round of trips to the regional countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar with an “interagency” delegation.

During his visit, Khalilzad will continue to meet the Afghan government officials and other interested parties to support and facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan.

HPC Questions Structure of Consultative Board for Peace Process Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:54:23 +0000

The Deputy Head of High Peace Council (HPC) Habiba Sarabi on Wednesday questioned the structure of High Advisory Board for the peace process, saying the women’s presence in the board has been “unfair”.

Addressing a  conference on women’s role in peace, Sarabi said that the high advisory board lacks women’s presence and that the government has not considered a fair role for the women and youth in the board.

At the event, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said that high advisory board representing the people from across the country,  insisting that the government has no preconditions for launching negotiations with the Taliban and that opportunity for peace should not be missed.

“We are ready for talks. There is no precondition to kick off negotiations, this is very an important issue,” he said.

The U.S. Ambassador John Bass was also present at the event. He said women’s role in the peace process should not be excluded.

Bass said the contributions of women to achieving an end to the conflict are “critical” to the success and “sustainability” of this effort.

This comes as the government announced the formation of the High Consultative board for peace on Tuesday aimed at building a national consensus for kicking off peace talks with the Taliban.

IEC Resumes Recounting of Kabul Votes Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:04:16 +0000

Foll Amid tensions with electoral complaints body, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday resumed recounting of the votes of parliamentary elections for Kabul.

The IEC  Deputy Spokesman Zabiullah Sadat said that the commission resumed the recounting process with a new method which includes changes in the number of observers and audit teams.

The electoral complaints commission (IECC), meanwhile, said that the IEC should provide them with evidence and documents regarding Kabul votes and that use a new mechanism in this regard, adding that thereafter, the commission will reconsider its decision of invalidating the votes of parliamentary elections for Kabul.

The election observers, however, stressed that the electoral commission should announce the final results of the elections.

This comes as days earlier, the IECC said that the election commission has not provided all the necessary information to the IECC nor it has reached to an agreement to determine a timetable for recounting of Kabul votes.

President Ghani to Inaugurate Lapis Lazuli Route In Herat Tomorrow Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:19:28 +0000

President Ghani is expected to inaugurate Lapis Lazuli route connecting Afghanistan and Europe in a ceremony in western Herat province tomorrow (Thursday), officials said Wednesday.

The route begins in Aqina and Turghundi ports in Faryab and Herat provinces and crosses many countries in the region including Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.

The route will be inaugurated at a ceremony in the presence of high-ranking officials from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.

“Trade through Lapis Lazuli route will create a regional transit and transport network, starting in Afghanistan and reaching to Europe residing along with route will benefit from its immense economic advantages,” the President Palace said ahead of the route inauguration.

According to the officials, the Lapis Lazuli route will have cheaper transport cost for the transferring of commercial products to foreign markets.

“We are making headways to resolving transit issues. Lapis lazuli corridor will supply Afghan products to European Markets,” ARG said quoting the president.  

The Lapis Lazuli corridor Agreement was signed on November last year by five nations on the sidelines of RECCA VII in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan marking an important milestone in the collective efforts towards deepening connectivity and enhancing trade in the region.

Unknown Gunmen Kill Four Members of A Single Family in Baghlan Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:53:29 +0000

Unknown armed men have killed four members of a single in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan, local authorities said.

According to local officials, the incident took place on Tuesday at around 02:00 a.m. in Baghlan-i-Markazi district of the province.

Authorities in Baghlan-i-Markazi hospital said that they have received dead bodies of one man, two women and a daughter of the family.  

The provincial police chief Ikramuddin Sare, did not comment in this regard. But he reported of a similar incident in the province in which a son has killed his mother in Pul-e-Khumri City via ax.

Local authorities described both incidents as domestic violence.  

The provincial governor, meanwhile, said that investigation is underway and that soon they will arrest the perpetrators of the incident.

Afghan Gov’t Unveils Structure of Consultative Board for Peace Process Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:19:04 +0000

The Afghan government has formed the High Consultative Board for the peace process and the negotiation team for talks with the Taliban, the NSC office said on Tuesday.

The office of National Security Council said that the new advisory board for peace will be held under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani.

According to NSC office, the board will be responsible for providing constructive advice to the government leadership on peace, monitoring and evaluating the proposals of the working committees of the peace process,  when required, providing the agenda and framework for the negotiating team of Afghanistan and supervising the implementation of peace negotiations.

Working committees of the High Consultative Board  includes:

Committee of Representatives of Political Parties, Committee of Representatives of Religious Leaders and Scholars, Committee of Representatives of women elites, Committee of Representatives of Tribal Leaders, Committee of Representatives of civil society and Culture, Committee of Representatives of Private Sector, Committee of Representatives of refugees and Afghan Diaspora,  and Committee of youth representatives, & war victims.

ONSC said that the committees have a coordinator which will be responsible for holding meetings and preparing agenda and drafts of the meetings.  The meetings of the committees will be held each month.

The members of the advisory board include high-ranking government officials, including the president, vice presidents, Chief Executive and his deputies, Speakers of Meshrano Jirga and Wolesi Jirga, Chief Justice, National Security Advisor, Spy Chief, Attorney General, State Minister for parliamentary affairs, President’s Office Chief of Staff, Head of Afghanistan Ulema Council, Head of High Peace Council’s Secretariat.

The consultative board also includes Jihadi leaders – Former President Hamid Karzai, Abdulrab Rasool Sayyaf, Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, senior of Jamiat party’s leadership Yunus Qanooni,  Mahaz party chief Syed Hamid Gilani, High Peace Council Chief Karim Khalili, Jamiat-e-Islami leader Salahuddin Rabbani, Paiwand Milli party leader Sayed Mansoor Naderi, leader of Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, Hezb-e-Islami Chief Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Haji Din Mohammad, Chief Executive of Jamiat-e-Islami party Atta Mohammad Noor, Amena Fazli, Senator Sediqa Balkhi, Senior member of Jamiat-e-Islami party Mohammad Ismail Khan and leader of Afghanistan Green Trend Amrullah Saleh.

The new setup in the peace process comes after the U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad has asked the Afghan government to formulate a negotiating team for peace talks with the Taliban as Washington seeks to end the 17 years of conflict in the war-weary country.

US Shouldn’t Give Even A dollar to Pakistan: Haley Tue, 11 Dec 2018 08:49:28 +0000 The outgoing American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says Pakistan continues to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill American soldiers, asserting that Washington should not give Islamabad even a dollar until it addresses the issue.

Haley said that U.S. did not need to give money to countries that wish harm to America, go behind its back and try and “stop us from doing things”.

” … I think there should be a strategic view on which countries we partner with, which ones we count on to work with us on certain things, and move forward accordingly. I think we just blindly allow money to keep going without thinking that this is real leverage. We have to use it,” Haley told US magazine ‘The Atlantic’, cited by the Times of India.

“The one example I’ll give you is, look at Pakistan. Giving them over a billion dollars, and they continue to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill our soldiers — that’s never okay. We shouldn’t even give them a dollar until they correct it. Use the billion dollars. That’s not a small amount of change,” she said.

Haley will step down as the UN envoy at the end of this year. U.S. President Donald Trump last week nominated chief State Department spokeswoman and a former Fox News journalist Heather Nauert as Haley’s successor.

This comes as recently in an interview with The Washington Post, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan dismissed U.S.’ allegations that there were safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan.

Khan said he would never want to have relations with the U.S. where Pakistan is treated like a “hired gun.”

Blast Hits Afghan Forces’ Convoy in Kabul, Leaving 12 Killed Tue, 11 Dec 2018 06:02:55 +0000

An explosion took place in Paghman district of Kabul on Tuesday morning, leaving 12 killed and nine more wounded, the Interior Ministry said. 

Najib Danish, Spokesman of the Interior Ministry said that blast occurred at around 09:20 a.m local time in Qalai Haidar Khan area of Paghman district. 

Danish added that the attacker targeted a convoy of the Afghan security forces with an explosives-packed vehicle in the area which left 12 dead including eight civilians and nine more injured. 

According to the official, four security personnel, two women and two children were among those killed in the incident. 

Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

CE Abdullah Reiterates Peace Plan Will Not Halt Presidential Elections Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:56:58 +0000

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Monday reiterated that the government’s peace plan will not halt the coming presidential votes, insisting that the elections will be held on its scheduled time.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of a 16-day campaign for eliminating violence against women, Abdullah said that most of the people want to have peace in the country, but he said delaying the presidential elections for the sake of peace plan is not something as the government leadership has discussed.

“Both plans [peace, and elections] is important. Ensuring peace will put an end to their continued pain and suffering and that [peace] plan should continue but delaying elections for the sake of having results for that plan is not something discussed and the government leadership has declared its stand in this regard,” he said.

Abdullah, meanwhile, urged the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to announce the final results of the parliamentary elections in order to have timely presidential elections in the country which is set for April next year.

“I hope that the commissions with coordination of each other declare the final results elections based on the law, so that the presidential elections could be held on the scheduled time,” he said.  

The IEC Deputy Spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, however, said that the commission has taken the “necessary” steps to announce the results of the elections and holding the coming presidential votes.

Hassan Hakimy Wins 2018 Human Rights Tulip Afghanistan Award Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:40:56 +0000

Afghan human rights advocate Mohammad Hassan Hakimy has been awarded the 2018 Human Rights Tulip Afghanistan in a ceremony organized at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kabul.

 Celebrating International Human Rights Day, the embassy in a statement on Monday said that the winner was chosen by the jury, consisting of Nader Naderi (Independent Administrative Reform Commission), Ruby Ajanee (Oxfam), Ingrid Hayden (Deputy SRSG UN) and Farahnaz Forotan (TOLO News).

Hakimy works in Ghor province and forms a “role model for other youngsters in Afghanistan”. He is especially focusing on the promotion of human rights and advocates for women’s rights and the rights of children.

 For more than a decade he has been working towards inclusive peace, freedom of expression and youth empowerment.

 Through his work, Hakimy has been able to report on human rights issues and violations from Ghor province to relevant authorities in Kabul, and put human rights on the agenda of national politicians.

The statement noted that the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kabul honors those who struggle for the right to speak their minds, to choose their leaders, and those who stand up to be protected against human rights abuses.

” We praise the brave men and women in Afghanistan who work to defend human dignity and advance the cause of peace and freedom,” it said.

Hakimy was picked among four nominees for the 2018 Human Rights Tulip Afghanistan award who showed courage, resilience, and willingness to fight for their fundamental human rights.

 The four nominees were Shah Marai (posthumous), Tahmina Arian, Mohammad Hassan Hakimy and Zaker Sadid.

Hakimy currently serves as an elected representative of the National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan as well as the head of the Ghor branch of the Independent Journalists’ Organization of Afghanistan and Executive Director of the Afghanistan Youth National Development and Social Organization (AYNDSO).

At the same time, he is editor of the 21 monthly magazine and focal point of human rights issues within the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).

According to the statement, the price for the winner consists of a cheque worth EUR 5.000,- to invest in further human rights-related work and a potential 3-day Visitors Programme to The Hague, Netherlands, to meet other Local Human Rights Tulip winners from all over the world.

Afghan Army Chopper Crashes in Kandahar, Leaving Five Wounded Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:08:28 +0000 A helicopter of Afghan national army was crash-landed at Kandahar airport on Sunday night, leaving at least five wounded, an official confirmed.

Sadiq Isa, the Deputy Spokesman of 205 Atal Corps said that the chopper had emergency landing due to technical issues.

This comes about two weeks after an Afghan army helicopter crashed in Maroof district of Kandahar province which left two crew members dead.

Umar Daudzai Appointed as President’s Special Representative Sun, 09 Dec 2018 14:37:12 +0000

President Ghani in a decree has appointed former Interior Minister Mohammad Umar Daudzai as his special representative on ‘regional affairs for consensus on peace’, the Presidential Palace in a statement said on Sunday.

Under Clause 13 of Article 64 of the constitution, Daudzai had been appointed to participate in meetings of national security council as president’s special envoy regional affairs for consensus on peace, the statement said.

According to the statement, Daudzai has also retained his current position as head of High Peace Council’s (HPC) Secretariat.  

Earlier, Akram Khapalwak served on the post, but last month he resigned as HPC secretary and presidential advisor.

Despite ‘Immense’ Pushback Gov’t Determined to Tackle Corruption: Ghani Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:32:21 +0000

President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday despite persistence of the corrupt and immense pushback, they are making inroads in eradicating corruption from the government.

Speaking on International Anti-Corruption Day, Ghani said after 09/11 incident, Afghanistan has received billions of dollars in aid but he said Afghans have failed to manage the assistance in a way to control Afghanistan’s water resources and to build roads and infrastructures.

“We have preferred our personal interests than national interests, and it led the international community to ask us – we have helped you and what you have done in return? –  we should give a response,” Ghani said.

The president, meanwhile, said that a legal framework was instituted by Afghan National Strategy for Combating Corruption and that it is in the process of implementation, adding that so far the process has seen through indictment and jailing of high-ranking civil and military officials.

“Recruitment of 22,000 civil servants based on the transparent open competition by Administrative Reform and Civil Services Commission, and awarding of contracts through a transparent process via National Procurement Authority are a couple of examples that indicate our commitment,” he said.

At the event, Second Vice President Sarwar Danish said that tackling corruption should become a culture in order to eradicate this phenomenon.  

“Lack of capacity in the government institutions is a challenge. fighting corruption should become a culture. People should help us in resolving corruption issues,” he said. “We still have weaknesses and challenges while implementing the rule of law and we need the support international institutions in this regard.”

Tadamichi Yamamoto, U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, John Bass, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay, U.K. ambassador to Afghanistan and national and international organizations were also present.

According to president’s office statement, they acknowledged government’s sustained focus and commitment to root out corruption. While admiring enactment of laws and implementation of processes such as Access to Information Law, Mining Law, continued implementation of inherent law, publication of national budget and asset declaration.

They reiterated their commitment to stand with the Afghan government while they continue to combat corruption. They said that the legal framework and required architecture are in place, but the Afghan government and its international partners need to make sure that architecture is effective.

During the event, high-ranking government officials, including President Ghani signed a commitment letter affirming to be transparent, open and ethical in their daily conducts.

AGO Suspends Head of Football Federation Over Allegations of Sexual Abuse Sun, 09 Dec 2018 12:34:19 +0000

The Attorney General has suspended six members including the head of Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) Keramuddin Karim over the allegation of sexual and physical abuse against women’s soccer team players.

The allegations had been reported by media last week which led FIFA – the world governing body for soccer – to investigate the allegations that male officials from AFF sexually and physically abused the Afghan female football players.

AFF had said that it “vigorously rejects the false accusations made with regard to the AFF’s women’s national team”, adding that has a “zero-tolerance policy towards any such type of behavior”.

However, the president’s advisor Fazel Fazly on Sunday in a Twitter post confirmed that the Attorney General office has reviewed the allegations and that have suspended six members of the AFF including Keramuddin Karim.

“After reviewing the allegations, the Attorney General has suspended six members including the head of Afghanistan Football Federation,” he tweeted.

It comes as earlier,  President Ghani had asked Attorney General Farid Hamidi to ensure a thorough investigation into the sexual abuse allegations in the Afghan Football Federation, and “bring those guilty to book”.

He had said that the government will not “tolerate” abuse of authority to sexually “exploit” people, regardless of their gender.

Taliban Seize Outpost in Farah, Killing Nine Afghan Soldiers Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:49:06 +0000

At least nine Afghan security forces were killed in the western province of Farah after the Taliban attacked an outpost in the province on Saturday night, officials said.

Khair Mohammad Noorzaie, Farah provincial council member said that the Taliban stormed the outpost of the Afghan forces in “Abkhurma” area in Balablok district of the province.

The official added that at least nine Afghan security forces were killed after the Taliban captured the outpost.

The provincial security officials did not comment regarding the incident so far.

In recent months, the Taliban have increased the scale of attacks in Farah province – located in the western part of the country next to Iran.

Farah is among the insecure provinces in the western parts of Afghanistan where the insurgent groups including Taliban are operating in its number of districts and often carrying attacks against the pro-government forces.

Afghan Forces Discover Cache of Iranian-Made Weapons in Ghazni Sat, 08 Dec 2018 15:18:26 +0000

Afghan National Army forces have discovered a cache of weapons and other military equipment in central Ghazni province, a local security official said Saturday.

The provincial police chief Ghulam Daoud Tarakhail said that the cache has been discovered at house of an individual identified as Tafan in an area near Ghazni City.

Tarakhail said that most of the discovered weapons and military equipment have come from Iran.  

“The weapons are totally new and have been imported from Iran,” Tarakhail said.

According to the official, the individual has fled the area and that police have arrested a suspect in connection to the incident.

Tarakhail meanwhile, stressed on launching a military operation against the Taliban in the province in the near future.

“A military operation will be conducted soon in Khwaja Omari [district]. We had good results in Khogyani district and the enemy has suffered heavy casualties there. Some of them being arrested,” Tarakhail added.  

This comes more than a week after the U.S. displayed pieces of what it said were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Afghanistan and Yemen. A charge Iran denied.

Taliban Shadow Governor for Paktika Killed Sat, 08 Dec 2018 14:03:00 +0000

The Taliban shadow governor for Paktika province has been killed along with four other militants, the Interior Ministry confirmed in a statement on Saturday.

The statement said that Pir Agha who was a key member of the Taliban killed during a special operation of the Afghan security forces in a village in Gomal district of the province.

According to the statement, the individual has been involved in organizing terror activities in Paktia province.

The Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, however, rejected the report. 

It comes about a week after Mullah Abdul Manan, the Taliban shadow governor for Helmand province was killed along with his two spokesmen –  identified as Hafiz Rashid and Mullah Jawid –  and his two guards in an air raid in Nawzad district of Helmand.

U.S. Should Use Every Possible Means to Ensure Peace in Afghanistan: MPs Sat, 08 Dec 2018 13:28:15 +0000

A number of Afghan parliament members on Saturday welcomed the U.S. efforts in the Afghan reconciliation process, saying Washington should use every possible option to ensure lasting peace in the war-torn country.

The meetings of the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad with the Taliban and the Afghan government leaders have raised hope among the Afghan people.

Recently, Khalilzad met with Russian officials in Moscow to discuss the ongoing efforts regarding Afghan peace. According to local media, the two sides held talks regarding the prospects to revive direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Following the issue, some Afghan parliament members said the Afghan people are backing the efforts of the international community particularly, the United States in the Afghan peace process, adding that the talks should lead into the end of the Afghan war.

They stressed the U.S. should prevent inferences of the countries – seeking interest in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

“Peace has various aspects. Daesh and Taliban cannot make peace. How can we make peace with a Taliban member who is a Pakistani national? Ignoring the policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan will not be a simple issue,” said MP Zakaria Zakaria.

“The parties who want to have a peace plan, all should support a single plan. Scattered plans for peace talks will not have outcomes,” said MP Aryan Yun.

Amir Khan Yar, Second Deputy Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (the Lower House of parliament), meanwhile, said that the U.S. should use every possible means to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan.

“Everyone wants peace. the United States and the International community should increase their efforts for reaching peace. They should prioritize peace in Afghanistan because Afghan people want peace more than anything else,” he said.  

The MPs stressed that the continuation of war has frustrated the people and that if the U.S. does not make use of the opportunity being provided for ensuring stability in Afghanistan, Washington’s  17 years of efforts will be failed in the country.  

Imran Khan to U.S.: ‘We’re Not Your Hired Gun Anymore’ Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:31:42 +0000

Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the U.S. of “pushing Pakistan away” and said he would never want to have a relation with Washington where his country is treated like a “hired gun”. 

“Reflecting on the two nations’ changing relationship, the Pakistani prime minister said his country would no longer want to be “treated like a hired gun”, referring to the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the ongoing US “war on terror”.

Khan and Donald Trump were involved in a Twitter spat last month after the American president suggested Pakistan had harboured Osama bin Laden despite receiving billions in US aid.

Khan told The Washington Post: “I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun – given money to fight someone else’s war.

“We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the U.S..”

“For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the U.S.,” he added.

When asked if Pakistan was trying to hedge its bets using China, Khan replied: “The US has basically pushed Pakistan away.”

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and the head of al Qaeda, was killed in 2011 during a raid by US special forces on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid strained relationship between America and long-time ally in the region.

The former cricketer told the newspaper he was merely “setting the record straight” with Trump “saying Pakistan was the reason for these sanctuaries [for Taliban leaders]”. The Pakistani leader insisted there “are no sanctuaries in Pakistan”.

He said: “The exchange was about being blamed for deeply flawed US policies – the military approach to Afghanistan.”

The comments come as Pakistan’s army has backed U.S. efforts for a political settlement with the Afghan Taliban to end 17 years war in Afghanistan.

With Inputs from Sky News 

U.S. Should Remain in Afghanistan: Dunford Fri, 07 Dec 2018 12:44:23 +0000

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the presence of American forces in Afghanistan has disrupted the “enemy’s ability to reconstitute and pose threat to the United States.

Addressing an event organized by the Washington Post, Gen. Dunford said that the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan to contain the insurgent groups that pose threats not only to South Asia but to also to the American people.  

“..were we not to put the pressure on Al-Qaeda, ISIS (Daesh) and other groups in the region we are putting on today, it is our assessment that, in a period of time their capability would reconstitute, and they have today the intent, and in the future, they would have the capability to do what we saw on 9/11,” Dunford said.

“The presence that we have in Afghanistan has, in fact, disrupted the enemy’s ability to reconstitute and pose a threat to us,” he noted.  

The top U.S. general stressed that they will continue to put “sufficient” political, social and military pressures on the Taliban so that they will reconcile in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process.

“The recent elections were another element in terms of being positive in putting political pressure on the Taliban. Social pressure – I was encouraged by the fact that Imams in Indonesia, in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia had issued fatwa that truly I think advanced the case of the Afghan government,” Dunford said.

He, meanwhile, noted that the pressures on the Taliban are moving in the right direction. “We were seeing for the first time in many many years, some opportunities to initiate that Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation  process.”

However, Dunford said there is plenty of work needs to be done regarding the Afghan peace process, adding that political, social and military pressures are necessary on the Taliban.

“I have not recommended that we leave Afghanistan because again in my judgment leaving Afghanistan not only would create instability in South Asia but in my judgment, it would give the terrorist groups the space within which they plan and conduct operations against the American people, homeland and our allies,” Dunford said.