The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, used a substantial part of his speech before Tuesday’s session of the United Nations General Assembly to praise President Donald Trump’s recently announced strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
“With President Trump’s recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan’s enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected,” Ghani told the audience at the UN headquarters in New York.
He said the strategy, which states that US military engagement in the country will be based on conditions rather than timelines, provided a certainty over US support for Afghanistan which he said the Afghan people had been seeking “for years.”
“We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty,” Ghani said.
American military commanders have similarly long sought an enduring US troop presence in Afghanistan that is based on battlefield conditions rather than an arbitrary withdrawal timeline — seeing it as a critical component of any strategy that aims to drive the Taliban to the negotiating table and compel meaningful cooperation from Pakistan.
Ghani for his part called on “all ranks of the Taliban” to engage in dialogue with the Afghan government.
He also echoed Trump’s strategy in asking Pakistan to do more to foster security and stability in the region, calling on Pakistan to join a “comprehensive dialogue” and saying that the Afghans had “proven that we are committed to peace.”
Afghan and US officials have long accused Pakistan of taking insufficient military action against Taliban leadership in that country.
“President Trumps’ new strategy includes the disruption and denial of sanctuary to terrorists whose motives know no boundaries,” Ghani said.
Ghani said Afghanistan is doing a lot more to combat corruption and promote merit over patronage, issues long prioritized by the US.
There are about 11,000 US troops currently deployed to Afghanistan. The majority of them are in supporting roles, assigned to the NATO mission to train and advise Afghan security forces alongside approximately 6,000 troops from other NATO countries. The remainder of US forces in Afghanistan carry out counterterrorism missions in the country.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday that just over 3,000 additional US troops were in the process of deploying to Afghanistan in order to be part of a “stronger train, advise and assist effort.”
And Ghani sought to link the fight in Afghanistan to the global fight against terrorism.
“The future of Afghanistan matters because we are on the front lines of the global effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism,” Ghani said.
Ghani, a former World Bank official, praised international institutions like the UN for helping to foster stability in the wake of the second world war, but he said new efforts were needed to confront the “threats we are facing to our economies, our security and our values.”
“We must confront the threat of terrorism as a united force and meet it with a long-term solution that matches the long-term agenda of the terrorists themselves.”
In addition to saluting Trump’s new strategic direction, Ghani took time to criticize Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, saying her “lengthy silence” on the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya “was tragic.”
Ghani made the comments during the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.