United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday set goals for ending the nearly 16-year-long war in Afghanistan, but without mentioning any specifics about dates or troop movements.
In a televised statement from a US military base in Arlington, he said that “obliterating the Islamic State, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan”, and stopping mass terror attacks against America even before they emerge will be a part of these goals.
He expanded the US military’s authority for American armed forces to target criminal networks, and said, “Our troops will fight to win”. Trump added that his original instinct was to pull out from Afghanistan, but he was convinced by his national security advisers against it.
Trump added that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a mistake, and would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill. “Terrorists are nothing but thugs, criminals and predators, and that’s right, losers,” he said.
The president also called for India’s assistance in Afghanistan. He said, “...but India makes billions of dollars in trade from the United States, and we want them to help us war with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development”.
He blamed Pakistan of protecting terrorists. He said that there were 20 US-designated foreign terrorist organisations active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror,” he said, adding that the threat was worse because Pakistan and India were nuclear-armed states, and tensions were always on the verge of tipping over.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations,” Trump said, adding that Pakistan had a lot to gain from partnering with America’s effort in Afghanistan. “It has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists,” he said.
Trump said that the US have been paying Pakistan “billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”. This will have to change and stop immediately, he added.