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Afghanistan Suffers Through More Deadly Attacks

Jan 29, 2018
Originally published on January 29, 2018 8:12 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn now to Afghanistan, where this past weekend there were more deadly attacks. ISIS is taking credit for an attack on a military base outside Kabul that left at least 10 people dead and more injured. This follows on an even more deadly attack in the center of Kabul Saturday. A hundred people were killed when an ambulance packed full of explosives blew up in a crowded street. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for that one. We're joined by Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Nations Mahmoud Saikal. Mr. Ambassador, good morning.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL: Good morning.

GREENE: I know it's a difficult time in your country with all this violence. Thanks for making the time for us. What is behind all these attacks?

SAIKAL: Well, what is important to know that most of these attacks are plotted in Pakistan. The latest one, the attack that happened on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, we have the father of one of the terrorists in our custody. He has just conceded that his son was in the Chaman area of Balochistan province of Pakistan, that he was trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan. So the important thing is the presence of the safe havens in Pakistan and whatever that motivates the intelligence services of Pakistan to destabilize Afghanistan and throughout the region. The international pressure has been helpful in the past year or a little bit less than that. The Taliban and other terrorist groups have received heavy blows from the Afghan security forces in the countryside and in the battlefield. And now...

GREENE: And not just from the Afghan forces, but that the United States has been pressuring Pakistan politically, as well.

SAIKAL: Definitely.

GREENE: And you're saying that is helpful because there have been some who have wondered whether the pressure in Pakistan, at least temporarily, has led to this kind of violence. You're saying that you appreciate this kind of pressure and think it's a good thing.

SAIKAL: Well, we have to understand the behavior of Pakistan under pressure. What would they do and how should we be ready for it? Naturally they've been defying international calls for addressing the safe havens in Pakistan. And now they are shifting the battle to the urban areas. And also with terrorist attacks, they are targeting soft targets. And also they're doing some surgical works in urban areas. And on the other hand, it's wintertime at the moment, anyway. So we need to increase the intelligence capability of Afghanistan. We need to make sure that we have the region onboard, and also we have to increase international pressure on Pakistan to give up with using this policy of violence in pursuit of political objectives.

GREENE: Can I just ask, are you suggesting that this might be just a temporary reality that you have to accept that, putting pressure on may be a long-term successful strategy but that it could lead to more attacks like this in the short-term?

SAIKAL: Well, generally speaking, if you compare Afghanistan today to where we were 18 years ago, we've come a long way. We've made some significant gains in Afghanistan in the field of human rights, development and even security. Yes, at the moment we do see a shift in the policy of Pakistan trying to make its mark and make sure that it remains relevant, through attacks like these. But, as I said, we need to understand, you know, once we put pressure on Pakistan, we need to understand the behavior of Pakistan under pressure and make sure that we are ready for that.

GREENE: All right. Mahmoud Saikal is Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Nations joining us this morning. Ambassador, thank you very much.

SAIKAL: My pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.