NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that if NATO leaves Afghanistan, the country will be run over by Taliban within days and it will become a hub for global terror organizations like the ISIS.
Speaking at a pre-ministerial meeting in NATO headquarters, Stoltenberg stated that the challenge stills remain great in Afghanistan, adding that the cost of leaving is bigger than the cost of staying.
“We must continue to ensure that the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists. Over the past months, we have stepped up our support – with more forces and funding, Because the cost of leaving is bigger than the cost of staying,” said Stoltenberg.
According to the NATO chief, the challenge in Afghanistan still remains great. In a question about the importance of the NATO presence in Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said: “It is important for NATO to keep its presence in Afghanistan, because we have to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a stage, to plan to organize, to execute terrorist attacks against our own countries.
There is a high cost of staying in Afghanistan, there is a high financial cost for NATO allies and there is a high human cost. We have had fatalities also in the past weeks but we have to compare the cost of staying with the cost of leaving.
“If NATO leaves Afghanistan, we have to be prepared there is a high risk that the Taliban will come back, and the different terrorist organizations will be able to gain ground and establish strong footholds in Afghanistan. For instance, we know that al-Qaeda is there, we know that ISIS is there. So this is about helping Afghanistan, but its also about helping ourselves.
“it is important that Afghanistan holds elections because elections are key to any democratic society. It is up to Afghan authorities to decide exactly when taking into account the security situation and all other issues. I think there are some lessons learnt from the parliamentary elections, which should be taken into account while Afghanistan now prepares for the presidential elections. I was assured when I visited Afghanistan a few weeks ago that the elections would be held,” he said.
The NATO Ministerial will conclude with a meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan. The statement comes at a time that during recent weeks, the US has extended its efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, aimed at ending the 17-year-long conflict in the country.
US President Donald Trump has sought Pakistan’s help, with Afghan peace talks in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the South Asian nation’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, said on Monday.
Trump wants to end a 17-year-old war between Afghan security forces and the Afghan Taliban militants, who are fighting to drive out international forces and establish their version of strict Islamic law, according to Reuters.
US officials have long been pushing Pakistan to lean on the Taliban leadership, which Washington says is based in the country, to bring them to the negotiating table. “President Trump has written a letter,” Chaudhry told Reuters. “He has asked for Pakistan’s cooperation to bring the Taliban into talks.”
Last month, Trump said in an interview Pakistan doesn’t “do a damn thing” for the United States despite billions of dollars in US aid, adding that Pakistani officials knew of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s location before his killing by US troops in a 2011 raid inside Pakistan.