Extension of US Presence in Afghanistan Necessary: Ex-Top NATO Commander

Kabul: The May 1 deadline of foreign troop withdrawal looming large, many military experts have pitched in their views on the fragile state of Afghanistan, including a NATO former top commander, who said that US presence on Afghanistan is necessary for at least six months more to ensure peace and order in the region.

“The most prudent course of action feels like a six-month extension and an attempt to get the Taliban truly meet their promises — like permitting a legitimate ‘conditions-based’ withdrawal in the fall,” said James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral who served as NATO’s top commander from 2009 to 2013.

US President Joe Biden had in late March given hints that troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would be difficult by May 1. “It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline.
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Just in terms of tactical reasons, it’s hard to get those troops out. And if we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way,” he had said. A few days later, US intelligence agencies warned the President Joe Biden administration that if US forces withdrew from Afghanistan without a peace agreement and a power-sharing deal between the involved parties in the war, “Taliban fighters could take over Afghanistan in two to three years”.

Stavridis added that it will be unwise to withdrawal quickly as the world wants an orderly and lasting peace in Afghanistan. The US is working with the UN to finalize a peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban to ensure a permanent ceasefire in the war-ravaged nation. The Istanbul Summit is likely to take place on April 16 and will last for 10 days as per media reports.

The Taliban, however, has warned to more violence if the May 1 deadline of withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan soil is not met. Hence, the peace talks are of utmost importance in the current scenario.

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