Ghani blames speedy US pullout for worsening violence

Published August 3, 2021
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks at the extraordinary meeting of the Parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday. — AP
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks at the extraordinary meeting of the Parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday. — AP

KABUL: The Afghan pre­sident on Monday blamed the American troops’ speedy pullout for the worsening violence in his country and said his administration would now focus on protecting provincial capitals and major urban areas in the face of the rapidly advancing Taliban.

Ashraf Ghani also urged lawmakers to back a national mobilisation drive against the Taliban amid an intensifying war between the Taliban and Afghan government forces over the past few months as US and Nato troops complete their pullout from the war-torn country.

An imported, hasty peace process — a reference to Washington’s push for negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban — not only failed to bring peace but created doubt and ambiguity among Afghans, Ghani said in his address to parliament.

The Afghan president arrived by helicopter for the extraordinary session of the house, called because of the dire situation on the ground. Ghani touched down at the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul and inspected an honour guard before heading inside.

“The Taliban do not beli­eve in lasting or just peace,” Ghani said. He predicted a sea change on the battlefield in the next six months that would push the Taliban back, without elaborating.

He claimed that Afghan forces are up to the task and have the capacity to defeat the insurgents. But in past weeks, Afghan forces have struggled against the Taliban onslaught, and have often been left without reinforcements and resupplies.

On Sunday, the Afghan armed forces spokesman, Gen Ajmal Omar Shinwari, said three provinces in southern and western Afghanistan face critical security situations. Southern Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban as well as Helmand and Herat provinces have witnessed several attacks.

Helmand provincial council chief Attaullah Afghan said the Taliban are also advancing in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, and now have control of the city’s seventh district. On Monday, elite Afghan commando units were dispatched to Lashkar Gah to help defend the city.

Back in Kabul, Ghani claimed his government has the financial and political support of the US and the international community to turn the tide even as he urged the insurgents to rejoin peace talks.

“We either sit knee to knee at the real negotiating table or break their (Taliban) knees on the battleground,” Ghani said.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021

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