Kabul    -   Commander of US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller has said that the foreign forces and their Afghan counterparts will continue military campaign against the insurgents alongside supporting the peace efforts, reported ToloNews on Sunday. While visiting southern Zabul province on Saturday, General Miller said he strongly supported efforts for bringing the war to an end in the country. “Today, we are in the midst of peace talks, and at the same time, while we have peace talks, we remain committed to fighting. We support peace when it comes, but in the meantime, we fight,” said Miller.

Afghan Chief of Army Staff Bismillah Waziri, meanwhile, warned that Afghan forces will retaliate the Taliban with full force if they continue to insist on war. “Today, we are here in Zabul to assess the preparedness and coordination between the security forces,” Waziri said. “The security forces are fully prepared and there is good coordination and harmony between them.”

“At the same time, we conveyed them the necessary directions. So far, security forces have accomplished their duty with full responsibility and they have great morale to provide security to their people,” Waziri added.

Commander of 2015 Atal Army Corps Imam Nazar Behbud said there is good coordination between the Afghan and foreign forces in Zabul. “In the south, whether it is military or civilian units, there is good coordination between them and the Resolute Support. We are working with the coalition forces on the key priorities. We have also arranged programmes for operations in Uruzgan province. Our operations will be launched there in the near future but we are coordinating our operations according to the needs. So, we are very happy to see there is good coordination,” Behbud said.

Zabul Governor Rahmatullah Ziarmal, meanwhile, called on the Taliban to contribute towards peace. “As a servant of Zabul people, I want to call on the Taliban that still there is an appropriate opportunity to come and join Zabul local government and cooperate with their brothers in the ranks of the security forces and contribute in the rebuilding and development of Zabul so that the province becomes a peaceful place,” said the governor.

This comes as peace efforts are underway at national and international levels. In a recent development, the Afghan government held the first meeting of the Reconciliation Council, which is comprised of Afghan political leaders, civil society members, religious scholars, activists and other representatives of the society, to create a “unified and clear” stance on peace.

Pak Airspace Still Closed

To Afghan Flights

The closure of Pakistani’s airspace to Afghan flights has created challenges for airlines and people in Afghanistan, reported ToloNews on Sunday.

Officials from local airlines said it has reduced the number of passengers by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, US officials have said that Washington is considering reducing its diplomatic footprint in Afghanistan as part of a broader effort to extricate the United States from its costly and deadly 18-year conflict, Foreign Policy magazine reported. The State Department is preparing to cut by half the number of US diplomats posted in Kabul in 2020, according to three US officials familiar with internal deliberations. This comes as the US and Taliban agreed in draft during the Qatar talks in mid-March on foreign forces withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances.

According to the report, in February, NPR reported on a leaked internal document from the US Embassy in Kabul that called the outpost too big and urged a “comprehensive review” of its size, though the document did not outline the scale of the proposed cuts.

“We are regularly hearing from Africa that we are outnumbered by the Chinese diplomats working on economic or other issues 4 or 5 to 1,” Foreign Policy quoted a senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We cannot continue to concentrate all that money in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

It’s a matter of “where can we best deploy our very limited resources to avoid losing further ground to major competitors who are rising at a speed that we can barely comprehend,” the official said as quoted by Foreign Policy.