Kabul: Rejecting criticism that the Taliban will quickly overrun the Afghan government forces and conquer Kabul once international forces have fully withdrawn, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Tuesday, that such statements are “unduly pessimistic”.
“I personally believe that the statements that their forces will disintegrate and the Talibs will take over in short order are mistaken,” he said. Violence has remained surged in Afghanistan even after a three-day ceasefire from May 12 to May 15. The Defense Ministry reported clashes in 18 provinces just a day after the ceasefire ended.
Khalilzad also said that it is important that Pakistan understands its role in the peace process, adding that the Afghan government and the Taliban should do their part in the peace process. “We remain in close touch with Pakistan leaders, pressing them to exercise their considerable leverage over the Taliban to reduce violence and support a negotiated settlement. I believe Pakistan understands that the protracted war in Afghanistan is not in its interest,” he said.
One of the critics was General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wanted a leftover force in the war-ravaged country once the troops pullout. “On the one hand you get some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes,” Milley said on May 2. “On the other hand, you get a military that stays together and a government that stays together.”
Republican Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and withdrawal critic, asserted that there is “zero chance” the Taliban will abide by the commitments. “It seems all, but certain the Taliban will try to overrun the country and return it to a pre-9/11 state after we have withdrawn,” McCaul said. “They’ve already ramped up their attacks, taking new territory and bases since the (Biden) announcement was made,” he said.
Meanwhile, there also have been developments on the peace front with Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanif Atmar speaking to British Ambassador to Kabul, Ellison Blake and meeting Stefano, NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, on Tuesday.
Atmar in his conversation with Blake called on the international community, especially the United Kingdom, to cooperate with the Government of Afghanistan in fulfilling the commitments of the Government of Afghanistan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in strengthening the relevant authorities, taking note of the increasing violence in Afghanistan as soon as the withdrawal began. Both sides also discussed the establishment of lasting peace in the country, the continuation of cooperation and the further strengthening of relations between the two countries.
During his meeting with Stefano, Atmar spoke about the latest political and security developments in the country, peace talks and a new chapter in relations between Afghanistan and NATO after the withdrawal of strong support forces.
Emphasizing the strong will of the Afghan government to end the ongoing war and end the crisis in the country, the Foreign Minister called the establishment and strengthening of national consensus, regional and global areas in support of the peace process important, given the Taliban’s dishonesty in honest talks. He called on the Afghan government to put pressure on them and their regional backers to comply with meaningful peace talks, accept a ceasefire and end the ongoing war in the country.