tv Afghan National Security Adviser CSPAN March 26, 2018 8:12pm-9:00pm EDT
next, a look at security and politics in afghanistan, that country's national security advisers spoke at the u.s. institute of peace on counterterrorism efforts and relations with pakistan. event was moderated by the formal national security advisor for president george w. bush. >> good morning everyone. my name is nancy lynn work. i am the president of the u.s. institute of peace. i'm pleased to be able to welcome everybody for a special program. i'm glad the weather cooperated. welcome to everyone who has seudo-weather event this morning.
we are pleased to see the members of our international advisory council, and welcome to those who are joining us by webcast. u.s.ip wasyou know, founded by congress, dedicated to the proposition that peace is undertaking,ctical that it is essential for our global security, and that it is eminently possible. with countries around the world, governments and society leaders, to equip them with the kind of tools and learning and information that enables them to work to prevent conflict from becoming violent and to resolve it when it does. as i think everyone in this world is aware, -- remains one of the most important policy priorities for the united states. is able tod usip
host the national security adviser. we are very honored you chose to accept our invitation to come here and have a conversation onh washington policymakers critical events that are occurring in afghanistan. ip has been deeply involved in afghanistan since 2002. we have had an office there since 2008. our afghan team works with governments, religious leaders, civil society organizations, to address the underlying causes of instability and to create the conditions for peace. this is a really important moment for a conversation on the afghan peace process. last month, the afghan government hosted the peace conference and made a very forward leaning offer to the taliban to find a political
solution to the conflict. also last month, the taliban indicated their willingness to talk to the united states about peace. next week, the president will open a conversation with the president of uzbekistan about regional support for a peace process. earlier this month, u.s. ip hosted ambassador wells from the u.s. department of state, who joined us to said light -- shed light on the u.s. response to recent developments. this is an important opportunity to hear directly the afghan perspective with the national security adviser, mohammed atmar . we appreciate your coming today to give us an update on how the afghan government is approaching this process, especially as it
deals with multiple security threats from within the country. i want to extend a special welcome to the afghanistan ambassador here in the united adviserational security hasark -- advisor atmar: been a critical leader. he has been a minister of rural rehabilitation and development in his efforts through the years have read to -- led to remarkable gains, particularly in the education of girls, but also in governance and much more . he was a driving force in the creation of the first afghan national development strategy an importanten partner in peace efforts. he will discuss the security challenges that potentialn faces in a
path for peace. he will make opening remarks and then he will be joined on stage by our board chair here at u.s. ip and the national security advisor for president george w. bush. we will have a great opportunity of listening to a conversation between former and current national security adviser's, followed by questions from the audience. please join me in welcoming afghan national security adviser atmar. [applause] adviser atmar: hello there. excellency hadley.
ladies and gentlemen, good morning. talk such a privilege to to such a distinguished audience. invited bynor to be the famous institute with its remarkable achievements worldwide, but particularly in afghanistan. let me first take this usip fority to thank not just inviting me and my delegation, but for the excellent work it has undertaken in afghanistan and elsewhere. colleagues, i am here to represent the president of inhanistan and our people thanking you all. anday our respect appreciation to be sacrifices of
your brave men and women in uniform. diplomats, aid workers, researchers, and politicians and policymakers. afghanistan will continue to appreciate your service. indebtedan will remain forever for what you have achieved through our joint partnership. some of you have personally served in afghanistan or together with us on afghanistan. grateful to each one of you for your dedicated service. that if youe compare my country, our country, ,o what we were 15 years ago
despite all the security wellenges that we have now, are certainly a totally different place for our citizens then we were 17 years ago. from every perspective. from the way we govern our country, the way we give voice educationple, to the of our girls and boys, to health care that we provide to our citizens, and to economic uplift for millions of our people. i used to be a humanitarian 1990's and late 1980's. so i understand where we were 17 years ago and where we are today. in this remarkable achievement of the people of afghanistan, you have had a great contribution.
i am particularly grateful to the generosity of your taxpayers. generosity actually meant more school, or health care, and better living conditions for afghans. thank you for all of that. today's opportunity, i was thinking of offering a few opening remarks on where we are ,ith security and bps strategy -- the he's strategy, then we will have the opportunity of working with mr. hadley on responding to some of your questions. the peace offer the president made last month, let me first provide the
context. three things are important. one, the draft we are commonly faced with. --s threat to enemies from it comes actually from an excess andiolent extremism transnational criminalize networks. covert state sponsorship of terrorism. it is not just a threat against afghanistan. it is a threat against the entire global community. the starting point of our discussion, when we analyze the situation in the region, you must understand this is a common
threat from a common enemy, which calls for a shared responsibility. taliban that the we are fighting. see foreign, we athters associated with least three categories of terrorist networks. a global terrorist network such , the regionalaesh epim ands such as such as therrorists taliban in pakistan. , thehese categories
afghans, the global, the regional and the pakistanis, have a relationship among themselves. drawing all throwing -- on the criminalized economy, chief of all drugs. drug networks need them and they need a drug income. unfortunately there has been a growth in the number of foreign fighters in the country, primarily because four years ago troopsere 352,000 afghan international with all afghanistan the sophisticated weaponry humanity has ever produced. four years ago, a decision was
combat,transition the and security responsibility to the afghans. ago, there was a young army that stood not developed, including its air force. the transition has taken place successfully. setbacks,'s -- especially in rural areas. but no major population center under control of taliban. so what we have achieved, number one, i often hear this that,
when is the timeline to bring this to an end? well, our enemies unfortunately do not have any timeline in pursuit of their hostility towards all of us. , 17thing you have achieved years ago you had to intervene yourself. .he international community the terrorist network supposing the threat to all of us. responsibility is shouldered by the afghans. we do the fight, we do the combat with support we very much from u.s. and nato partners. one of the most significant achievements in addition to the fact that afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for these
terrorists is the creation of the afghan national security forces, which does the job. we will continue to require support from our international partners. if you look at how much of the in blood therifice afghans do and how much of it kurdish -- international partners do, it is clear afghanistan has begun to stand on its own feet. process, the south asia strategy of president trump's administration has played a key role. we welcome the strategy. it has already a significant the reduction of violence and capabilities of the
terrorists. enabling -- for our peace and reconciliation strategy. the response from the region has been mixed. first, unfortunately, we have not had any positive response from pakistan. not any change in the policy they are pursuing. response from the region, the way the region is slightly mixed. while there is a regional consensus on reconciliation in afghanistan, but the consensus on how to fight the terrorists has broken slightly. unfortunately, there are actors in the region that dry distinction between good and bad terrorists.
, another sign of that breakdown of consensus is agreed to have the state to state relations for counterterrorist. there are those now who look at state to nonstate actors counterterrorism with serious implications for all of us. thee who say they work with taliban against daesh. --say, not only this is an this is on ethical, but in terms of policy, this is self-defeating. details, ing into an environment where while we progress, butcant
we also have challenges associated to the growth of the foreign fighters and the regional of cooperation. , based on thet environment of that was shaped by the salvation strategy, tohanistan launched enforcing strategy -- two and forcing strategies. the peace and reconciliation and counterterrorism strategies. the peace and reconciliation strategy aims to separate the afghan taliban from the foreign fighters. we can make peace with them because they are afghans, if they are interested in piece. -- peace.
if we succeed in making peace and separating them from the foreign fighters, this will be the most effective global and regional counterterrorism strategy. the foreign fighters will not have a safe haven in afghanistan. how -- our time, counterterrorism strategy is reinforcing our peace strategy. it aims to increase the number of reconcileable among the taliban. the taliban must know they cannot win militarily. strategiesthere two are reinforcing each other. there is anlieve inherent contradiction must look at the way these strategies function as two sides of the same coin. there isn't any contradiction.
they will have to be pursued simultaneously to get the result. peace with the afghan insurgents and defeat of the international terrorists trying to use afghanistan. in this context, president ghani offered the most comprehensive peace offer to the taliban. the keyfamiliar with features of the offer, ranging from a legal package to a political, security, and economic package. all the key issues that the taliban have been concerned with , but at the same time, we did mention to them that there are
some key enablers. these are not conditions, but key enablers. redundancy nation of violence, cutting ties to international terrorism, and respect for the afghan constitution. especially the rights of our women and minorities. there has not been any official response from the taliban. to the offer. they are still pondering, consulting each other. is theretunate fact has been increase in violence since the launch of the peace strategy. the peace offer. suggesting there are those elements who do not want peace.
this will not deter us. we will continue to pursue the peace strategy. ourhe same time, strengthen counterterrorism capabilities. on the peacerd strategy, to make sure it always,, colleagues as it's complicated. i offer at least eight lines of effort as to how to go forward. that we have to strengthen the afghan national security forces. the south asia strategy provides a good basis for international .upport without the afghan national security forces, no peace and reconciliation would work within the country.
beond, there will have to national consensus for peace and reconciliation. actors, among political but among all the that our society. society.ctions of our our minorities will have to be comfortable with the peace process. it will have to be a peace process for all afghans. , there will have to be an afghan processra- of dialogue. one of the major insurgent groups taliban has had recently -- it worked for them, an intra-
afghan process, but we need to have the right support for that process. fourth, u.s. afghan alignment is key. theave to make sure countries are fully aligned in pursuit of the peace process. fifth is regional cooperation. for the success of both strategies, peace and reconciliation and counterterrorism, we have to have regional consensus and regional support. , terrorism is a common threat to the entire region. they need to know how we fight. peace and reconciliation is of interest to all of them, and they need to know whether their
interests are taken into account. pakistan, iran, india, turkey, central asian states, china and russia, we are also looking at the critical role that saudi arabia and other countries can play in disrespect. this respect.- in particularly to support the afghan dialogue. things we will be doing is exactly to explore how that influence can be harnessed for a peace process. the officear about of taliban.
.t can play a role sooner rather than later. we have been there for seven years. peace,are not there for you cannot be there for war either. they have to start engaging in the process. pakistan, the role of which is central to the peace process and the counterterrorist. we are engaging them at different levels. there has been a strong welcome from pakistan for the peace initiative. toare engaging them now offer them concrete measures as to what can they do together with us to support the peace
process. on counterterrorism, there is a huge difference between them and us. reality.he sad are putting this to them that there will be no foreign fighters without taliban in afghanistan, and no taliban without-- insurgency foreign fighters in afghanistan. a good process of dialogue has been initiated on pakistan-afghanistan action plan. i hope we will reach an agreement there. that will definitely be for the south asia strategy and regional cooperation. with this, i just wanted to explain the context in which we
are in, and how these two mutually reinforcing strategies can work together. i will be looking forward to your comments and questions. thank you again. [applause] >> thank you very much. we are delighted that you are here with us today. there is no one who has been afghans efforts for peace, security, efforts with its neighbors, and for u.s.-afghan relations.
we are delighted to have you here. i think you provided a context that has not really penetrated the washington media or policy community. we are grateful for that. 11:05 and weut 11:30.hard stop at i'm going to ask two for three questions. at 11:15, we are going to take questions from the audience. there will be roving microphones that will come to you. please introduce yourself, ask your question, and keep it short. the shorter the question, the more questions you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. i want to start with something you said about the peace offer. americans really
appreciate how remarkable this offer was. it was unconditional. possibilityut the in aliban participation political process, and it also talked about, while the constitution needed to be respected, it also could potentially be amended. there could be a dialogue on that issue. these are major moves by president ghani. they deserve recognition and support. which wasne thing very important, which was there -afghano be intra reconciliation. have had concerns about, if you have a reconciliation of pakistan, which took up arms against the afghan people, but don't have reconciliation among the afghan people, what lessons
did people draw from that? could you say more about that process you have talked about? what's the objective, what's the process, where are you on that? that's a crucial element of the process. adviser atmar: absolutely. -- way we look at it is challenge number one, peace between the state of afghanistan and the state of pakistan. friends andre good have always a mutually beneficial relationship. the problem has been the relationship between the two states. that's element number one. intra- number two is afghan peace with taliban.
as i said, we need to work on it. the third element is the foreign fighters. them.not make peace with they are not afghans. they do not pursue an afghan objective. we will have to have some kind of counterterrorism. afghans, the taliban -- a monolithic organization. they do not have the same level of -- or strength of leadership as they used to. they are brought together by foreign influence.
now among theers taliban that question the continuation of the conflict. with certainly in contact our peace council and the government. they are asking for a process whereby they and their families are protected to engage in peace. something that needs to be understood that most of the, if and hl of the taliban aqqani leaders have their family as collateral cap somewhere. that is the way they are to be trusted with what they are doing.
they are concerned about their families, their own safety. with this group, our strategy is reconcilable and we need to talk to them. as i said, this conflict is as much about economics as about politics. -- proceeds from the criminalized and drug economy. there are states and nonstate elements. course, not to mention the corrupt officials. when it comes to the regional ,takes and their involvement
the peace offer alone will not be enough. we have to have the right balance between incentives and disincentives. when it comes to the reconcilable elements, the challenges, the government of afghanistan must have a solid national consensus to be able to engage. seen as peace for one section of the asked -- afghan society and lack of peace for another section. it will have to be a solid consensus on the basis of which intra-afghan process will work.
we have hope we are capable of having it. every afghan has suffered a lot. they are still kind enough, generous enough to embrace a principled peace opportunity. that process of national consensus will have to be supported by regional and international consensus. it's complicated. that, we will be exploring that further with our american colleagues as well as countries like saudi arabia and uae. >> if i could ask you one more question before moving. what is the mechanism for that intra-afghan reconciliation? mechanism for building consensus and support of an outreach? is at the peace council?
is it an electoral process? what is the mechanism within afghanistan to achieve that objective? this is the high peace council. almost all of the political actors, the political community, as well as civil society. to be supported by the state institutions to establish the process. the electoral process is obviously the future. about sharing of power with taliban. the position of people of is -- cannot
participate in the process. have a forward, to political authority to govern. all of these processes will be open. >> i want to ask you two more questions. you talked about pakistan what you are doing their, and the need for regional actors to support this process. focus ineen a lot of the media these days about russia. we talked a little bit about the role russia is playing. i would like to talk about that. also if you could address the internal security situation in afghanistan. we have read press reports of the terrible attacks, many of them by daesh the have killed
innocent afghans. we express our condolences for those. we read about those comment gives the impression to the situationed is deteriorating rather than getting better. can you discuss the role russia is playing and a little about the internal security situation for combating the challenges you now face? then we will go to the audience. recently wer: most had this regional consensus on russia. over the past couple of years, unfortunately, that has been a week and of the -- weakening of the regional consensus. where we agree with the russians andhat the terrorism especially the foreign fighters are a threat to all of us.
that thereement is best way forward is peace and reconciliation in afghanistan. we agree on these. where we disagree is when we hear about the distinction that is made between good and bad terrorists. then finding a way to work with taliban. of course, we have received assurance that taliban will not be provided with weapons and resources. assuranceelcome that and we would like to say that in actors. whenso get concerned that a claim that there are u.s. -- bringing daesh
from the south, tribal areas of duringn, quite recently the conference, we respectfully engaged them, if you have any evidence of this happening, please produce it and we will -- welcome a joint regional investigation into the evidence you have provided. but if you don't have evidence, we do have evidence that we would like you to have a look at. the evidence we have is that over 80 daeshe i.s. foreign fighters in our custody.
we ask them where they were recruited, who trained them, who brought them into afghanistan. i'm sure we need to do more of to engage each other and look at the evidence we have. frankly speaking, sometimes when we engage these regional actors, it's not so much about afghanistan. it's about other interests they have outside afghanistan, like always, bringing those interests or those called -- conflicts into afghanistan. therefore, we suggested to our american and western partners that probably afghanistan is the place where we all have a common interest to cooperate. as china said, they want to see
afghanistan as a cooperation plays with the united states and nato, not a confrontational pace -- place. i hope that is also the case with the russians and other regional actors. you are absolutely right about these heinous acts of terror in ,he country, including the one the killing of 26 of our innocent people. attacks have increased over the past couple of weeks. in a way, in response to the significant setbacks and suffered.he taliban they resort to this level of violence as an act of desperation.
it is desperation because they no longer think about the hearts and minds of the people. they just connect the level of violence to demonstrate to the world that they exist, they have not been crushed entirely. that is the wrong way to actually send a message. while we do realize we need to do a lot more to prevent these attacks are happening, a certain degree of this will be happening for all of time, unfortunately. the growingat strength of the afghan national security forces with the right support from our international partners, we strongly believe the same way they have kept the country together without any combat role of the international who would be able to
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