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Russia concerns over security threats to Central Asia genuine: MPs

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Scores of Afghan lawmakers say that Russia’s concerns over presence of the Taliban insurgents along borders of the Central Asian countries could not be ignored.

A number of lawmakers told Afghanistan Times that the concerns of Russia over the Taliban infiltration into Central Asia through Northern provinces carry weight. They also termed the new US troops withdrawal plan “useless”. The legislators say that continued presence of the American forces would prolong the war.

Moscow has recently expressed concerns over the presence of insurgents along the borders of Central Asian Republics. Parliamentarians say that worries of Russian authorities could not be ruled out.

President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has recently warned of increase in insurgency in northern Afghanistan, and has said that one of the goals of terrorists is to reach Central Asia. He said that it was necessary to take steps and prevent the insurgents from crossing into Central Asia.

Media reports suggest that the Russian president has showed willingness at least three times to support the Afghan security forces since the Taliban captured Kunduz, a province bordering Tajikistan.

Itlaat-e-Roze, a local newspaper, has reported that Russian officials have showed interest, at least three times in one month, to equip Afghan security forces. Likewise, Afghan government has requested Moscow four times to equip its security forces.

The same daily said that the first vice president Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dustom in his trip on September 24 and a parliamentary delegation on October 14 has asked the Russian authorities for military support.

The Chief of Defense Committee of the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of the parliament, Muhammad Iqbal Safi, said that presence of the Taliban in north is an important issue for Moscow and had concerned the Russian officials, especially after fall of Kunduz to the insurgents nearly three weeks ago.

He said that the Russian leadership has every right to be concerned because Central Asia is under threat. “Therefore, the United Nations, the United States, NATO and Russia must work together to eliminate the Taliban and end militancy in the region,” suggested Safi.

The Afghan government shall ask Russia and NATO to equip the Afghan security forces with lethal weapons in order to fight better against the Taliban and Daesh. It will ensure better security on both sides of the borders. Lack of air force and heavy weapons such as fighter jets, gunship helicopters, tanks and artillery is a major challenge faced by the Afghan security forces, he added.

Nazefa Zaki, a member of the Internal Security Committee of the Wolesi Jirga, said that Russia should equip the Afghan security forces in order to keep the insurgents away from borders of the Central Asian states.

On the other hand, the lawmakers termed presence of 5,500 US troops beyond 2016 useless and termed it as a major factor that would fuel the war in Afghanistan.

Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, an MP from Herat, said that presence of the US troops would keep the war ongoing in Afghanistan.

“The United States and Russia shall equip the Afghan security forces if they really want to end militancy in the region. Presence of the US forces is of no use. The US wants to continue the Crusades in Afghanistan and kill only Muslims on the pretext of war against terrorism. Afghans [security forces] have the ability to lead the war if equipped. If the US really wanted to fight against terrorism then why did they disarm Afghans and not providing air power and tanks to our security forces?” he asked.

Abdul Wodood Paiman, an MP from Kunduz, said that the presence of US troops would not help Afghans. He said the US forces are in Afghanistan since 2001 but the Taliban was not made history. Paiman said the insurgents are still strong.

He alleged that the US was involved in collapse of Kunduz in order to extend its stay in Afghanistan.

Mahdawi, another MP, called presence of the US troops as a complicated political game in the region. “I do not think that the US troops’ presence will help us or bring durable security,” he said, adding that the US wanted to punish Russia for its support to Syria. He said that this policy of the United States would reverse the gains made in the last 14 years.

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