TOLOnews.com, July 18, 2015
Pakistan’s Military Encouraging Haqqani to Gain Ground in South-East: Official
"More than 50 percent of threats are in the eastern zone because they share a border with Pakistan"
By Vali Arian
An Afghan military commander said on Saturday that Pakistan's military is encouraging the Haqqani Network to take control of large swathes of the south-eastern parts of Afghanistan.
Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, commander of 203rd Thunder Military Corps in south-eastern Afghanistan, said that Pakistan's military is trying to get the Haqqani Network to take power in Afghanistan in order for them to "implement their plans in the country".
One example is that of south-eastern Paktia province, which shares about 573 km of border with Pakistan. Paktia is currently caught up in a large scale battle against insurgents.
"More than 50 percent of threats are in the eastern zone because they share a border with Pakistan and there are three shuras [councils] of militants in Pakistan which make their plans there and implement them here," Yaftali said.
The Taliban insurgents have increased their activities in these border areas considerably this year – areas that were previously peaceful.
"They are planning to settle the Haqqani network in a big area in a bid to find bigger privileges in the peace talks," he said.
The military forces, currently battling insurgents in Paktia, have assured the public that they will defend the country with everything they have in a bid to maintain security.
"Afghanistan's youth are still here. I am the only son of my mother. I am ready to sacrifice myself to defend and save my homeland," said one soldier.
With the handover of the security responsibility to Afghan security forces by foreign troops at the end of 2014 the responsibility of fighting insurgents is now squarely on the shoulders of local troops.
Yaftali's comments come just a day after officials from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr by visiting Afghan soldiers fighting on the front lines in Paktia and Paktika provinces.
The NDS officials paid homage to the sacrifices made by the security forces and stressed that their commitment and determination is what has forced the Taliban to endorse the peace process.
The NDS officials said the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and Pakistani military are all attempting to destabilize parts of Paktika province, which borders Pakistan.
These claims were added to by Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, the commander of the Army's 203 Thunder Corps, who said there is evidence that the Pakistani military is supporting militants in the Samkanai district of Paktia.
"With the help of Allah, you [the Afghan forces] succeeded in defeat 600 Pakistani militia forces who cast an evil eye toward our country and many of them were killed and wounded," Yaftali said on Friday.
Despite the security threats, average citizens accompanied the security officials to pay respect to the soldiers fighting on the front lines.
"They [the security forces] should be appreciated. It is because of their services that we can live in peace in the cities and inside our homes," Afghan writer Tamim Asi said.
"They are the protectors of our country, so we are here to see them and invite others as well to come and visit their soldiers," civil society activist Shafi Sharifi said.
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