The US National Security advisor HR McMaster in interview with the MSNBC which aired on Saturday said that Taliban and Haqqani network have “bases in Pakistan and we want to really see that changed.”
“There’s a tremendously successful campaign going on with Afghan forces in the lead. It’s an unreported campaign in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The president (Donald Trump) has said that he does not want to place restrictions on the military that undermine our ability to win battles in combat,” McMaster said during the interview. “He has lifted those restrictions, and you’re beginning to see the payoff of that– as well.”
“The President has also made clear that he, that we, need to see a change in the behavior of those in the region, which includes those who are providing safe haven and support bases for the Taliban, Haqqani Network and others. This is Pakistan, in particular, that we want to– that we want to really see a change and a reduction of their support for these groups,” he said. “I mean, this is of course, you know, a very paradoxical situation, right, where Pakistan is taking great losses. They have fought very hard against these groups, but they’ve done so really only selectively.”
In response to another question: “There have been some hard hits in Kabul. Do you have confidence yourself in General Nicholson, the combatant commander in Afghanistan?”
“Oh, of course. I’ve known him for many years. I can’t imagine a more– more capable commander in any in any, on any mission,” McMaster said.
The question comes after there were reports that Trump's doubts about the war in Afghanistan has led to a delay in completing a new US strategy in South Asia, and skepticism that included a suggestion that the US military commander in the region be fired.
According to the reports, US officials told Reuters on Wednesday that during a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called "the end-state" in a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.
Another question followed: “You’ll recall that President Obama froze, sort of, in his Afghanistan review at the beginning of his administration.
President Trump doesn’t want to compare unfavorably with that. When is a decision coming on the “strategy”– to use a quote from George W. Bush on what we’re gonna do in Afghanistan?”
McMaster responded: “Oh. Well, the president’s already made some important decisions on Afghanistan.”
“But, you know, but we’re not gonna talk tactics anymore, right? Everything before was, you know, troop levels and very specific details and announcing to the enemy years in advance exactly the number of troops you’re gonna have, exactly what they’re gonna do and what they’re not gonna do. And so the president has said, that “That is not the way to fight a war. It never has been.”
He also said: “I think there are two things that the American people ought to understand, and that we all have to talk about. The first is what is at stake? All right, what are the stakes in Afghanistan? And the second is, what is the strategy that secures an outcome consistent with the vital interests of the American people? And an outcome that is worthy of the sacrifices that our servicemen and women are making, and the tremendous efforts, right, and the risks that they take.”
He stressed that: “What we’ve had in Afghanistan for years is a disconnected strategy. What we’re doing militarily was disconnected from what we’re trying to achieve politically. So, you say to the Taliban, “Hey, let’s see what we can do to accommodate some of your concerns, so we can end the violence. And by the way, we’re leaving.” He added: “And how does that work? And how does it work when– when your enemy believes that they are in the ascendance militarily, if you’re trying to negotiate some of an agreement? It doesn’t work. You know, and how does it work that you’re not connected with what you’re doing into inside of Afghanistan to what you want to achieve regionally? And, in particular, to engage other – countries in the region to play a more productive role or a less destructive role in some cases.”
He also pointed on September 11, 2001 threats to US and said that: “The mass murder attacks against our nation on September 11th, 2001, originated right from Afghanistan, from a Taliban regime that gave safe- haven and support bases to Al Qaeda.”
“And so, there’s a recognition that our efforts really to enable to Afghan forces. I mean, Americans don’t realize really the Afghan Army suffered 6,700 soldiers killed in action last year. So, who’s doing that, who’s doing the bulk of the fighting? The Afghans are. The question the president has asked us is, “What more can we do to enable them?” He doesn’t want to take over the war,” he said.
“The Afghans are fighting a war for their country. And so, what more can we and others do in and what burdens, responsibilities can the United States and allies and partners share such that the Afghan government, the, its security forces can succeed against this enemy of all civilization?” he asked.