Mohammed Hanif Atmar: 55,000 Terrorists Present in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, Mohammed Hanif Atmar, said there were more than 55,000 terrorists in his country, mainly divided into four categories: local terrorists (30,000-40,000), militants from Pakistan (6,000-7,000), members of regional terrorist organizations (2,000-3,000) and members of international extremist groups such as ISIS (around 3,000) and Al-Qaeda (200-400).

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Atmar noted that terrorists were benefiting from three sources of funding which are terrorist organizations located in different parts of the world, governmental organizations in some countries that have personal agendas in the region, and drugs; a major source of income for terrorist organizations.

“I don’t want to blame Pakistan or say that they cause the problem, but we hope that Pakistan will help us block the sources of terrorism and the places where terrorists are hiding,” he stated.

Commenting on statements by the Pakistani Foreign Minister to Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week, in which he said that the security of Afghanistan was that of Pakistan and that his country had no interest to destabilize its neighbor, Atmar said: “We are very happy to hear this from the Pakistani minister, but we will be happier and will thank them a thousand times if they can close the terrorists’ haven in their country.”

The Afghan official said his government was keen to see Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the leader of the Islamic world, engaging in reconciliation efforts between the disputing Afghan parties.

“Saudi Arabia plays a major and pivotal role in the stability of the region. Afghanistan is suffering from terrorism and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a leading role in fighting terrorism. We want to benefit from the Saudi capabilities and expertise in this field to promote Afghan reconciliation,” Atmar said.

“Therefore, we look forward to seeing the Kingdom, as the leader of the Islamic nation, assume a significant role in bringing peace to Afghanistan,” he added.

Atmar underlined that reconciliation in his country depended on several important factors, mainly honest cooperation between regional countries on this matter.

“In the absence of cooperation in drying up the sources of terrorism in countries neighboring Afghanistan, efforts of reconciliation will not succeed,” he stated.

“One of the main reasons for my trip to Saudi Arabia is to get support for the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan; we believe that the participation of Saudi Arabia will lead to tangible and positive results,” Atmar remarked.

Riyadh-Abdul Hadi Habtoor, Asharq Al-Awsat

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