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Afghan President Warns Against Shifting Focus From His Country

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the 51st Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Feb. 8, 2015.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the 51st Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Feb. 8, 2015.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani urged the international community not to shift focus from his war-torn nation, warning it remains the meeting point of global terrorist networks, including Islamic State.

“The threat of this ecology [of terror] is global, but Afghanistan is the meeting ground of this global ecology. Lest we forget this and take our eyes elsewhere there will be consequences,” Ghani told the Munich Security Conference in Germany Sunday.

He cautioned that the Islamic State group is quickly moving to a stage in Afghanistan where it is able to organize, orient, decide and take actions.

The Afghan leader assured the conference his country is working to deal with internal challenges, including terrorism, but it will need continued global support.

"And it is very important not to isolate the events from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya from what is unfolding in Afghanistan," he said.

Ghani spoke three days after NATO’s defense ministers gathered in Brussels on Thursday and for the first time in 13 years the conflict in Afghanistan was not on the meeting agenda, a development raising concerns in Kabul.

Undermining security

Without naming any country, Ghani said that states in his region have been deliberately sponsoring “non-state” actors to undermine security and hoped “those days are over.”

Afghanistan has long alleged that neighboring Pakistan has been sheltering leaders of the Afghan Taliban and has demanded the neighboring country end the practice.

Pakistan has recently undertaken counterinsurgency operations in and around the volatile North Waziristan territory near the Afghan border to address Kabul’s concerns. The region is known for harboring the Haqqani terror network, an ally of the Afghan Taliban, and other Islamist outfits staging attacks on both sides of the border.

American and Afghan officials acknowledge the recent Pakistani offensive has disrupted the terror infrastructure in the border area. But speaking Sunday, Ghani warned of new security challenges for his country.

“Pakistan’s operations in North and South Waziristan have had a displacement effect where the center of gravity has shifted to Afghanistan," Ghani said, adding he has initiated an intense and comprehensive engagement with Pakistan to enhance joint counterterrorism efforts and hopes the interaction with the neighboring country will produce results.