British, NATO Forces Must Not Leave Afghanistan Before Peace-Talks Conclude: UK Parliament

The International Relations and Defence Committee of UK Parliament in a report said that the British and NATO forces should not leave Afghanistan before the peace talks conclude.

The report is published against the backdrop of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which resumed in Qatar at the weekend, and high levels of violence claimed by the Taliban and IS-K group.

The report criticises the lack of clarity on UK policy towards Afghanistan, expresses concern over the premature withdrawal of troops by the US, and says the UK Government will have to carefully consider its approach to the Taliban if a power-sharing agreement is reached at the peace talks.

Commenting on the report, Baroness Anelay of St Johns, Chair of the Committee, said: “Afghanistan’s relative prioritisation as a UK national security issue has slipped since 2010, but the scale of the challenges facing the country, and their potential impact on UK interests, have not diminished. The Afghan state remains very fragile, while the Taliban’s insurgency continues, and terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and Islamic State Khorasan Province, operate in the country. Afghanistan is the source of 95% of heroin on UK streets.”

“This is a critical time for Afghanistan, with peace talks in Qatar having resumed over the weekend and an unacceptably high level of violence continuing to afflict an already poor and unstable country,” She said.

“The UK Government must engage urgently with the incoming Biden Administration on the strategy for Afghanistan, and emphasise to the US and to NATO Allies the importance of their ongoing presence in Afghanistan until a peace deal is reached.  The Government should be front and centre in calling for a multinational approach to Afghanistan within NATO, addressing regional stability, counter-terrorism and countering narcotics production and trafficking. The UK is a major aid donor to Afghanistan, and we are concerned that the Government’s decision to renege on its commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid from 2021 could have a disproportionately negative impact on Afghanistan,” Baroness Anelay of St Johns added.

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