General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan said the United States held a series of private talks with Pakistani officials about the elimination of insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan.
He said the recent pressure applied to Pakistan has not resulted in the reduction of violence in Afghanistan, but he reiterated that Washington will take other steps to cut the aid coming from Pakistan to the Taliban and other groups.
“There have been many high level discussions, many of these have been in private to try to encourage the Pakistanis to do this; as of the beginning of the year, as you saw President (Donald) Trump suspended military aid to Pakistan and as you heard ambassador (John) Bass said as recently as yesterday the United States’ position has been that we want to see the Pakistanis eliminate these sanctuaries, eliminate the support,” said Nicholson.
Referring to the peace process, Nicholson said that there is a possibility that some Taliban join the peace process but warned that some others will never denounce the war.
Nicholson said that in the next few months, the war and peace strategies will move ahead together.
“I fully expect that the fighting will continue this year even as we continue to develop talks about peace, but that is one of the differences this year, parallel talking about peace and advancing it as well as the pressure applied to the Taliban on the battlefield,” he said.
Nicholson went on to say that alongside the military pressure, holding the country’s parliamentary elections and the upcoming conference of religious scholars in Indonesia are indicative of increased social and political pressure on the Taliban.
“Think also this we are going to see social pressure applied to the Taliban for peace through the elections that will occur,” added Nicholson.
Nicholson said that Trump will consider more steps to be taken against Pakistan.
The ministry of defense meanwhile said operations this past solar year have been successful.
“Operation Khalid launched by the security forces in 1396 was very successful, the operation prevents the enemies from reaching their objectives in shape of taking over the center of the provinces,” said Afghan defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri.