As US has started the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of engagement, special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday said that the prediction that the Taliban will quickly overrun Afghan forces and conquer Kabul after full withdrawal of international troops 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,” Khalilzad told the House Foreign Affairs Committee as quoted in a report by AP.
Violence has remained high in the country 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 said that the Afghan government and the Taliban should do their part in the peace process. He stressed the need for Pakistan’s role in the peace efforts in Afghanistan.
“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,” Khalilzad said. “I believe Pakistan understands that the protracted war in Afghanistan is not in its interest.”
But US lawmakers expressed their concern and skepticism over the future of the country once American troops leave Afghanistan.
“It seems all but certain the Taliban will try to overrun the country and return it to a pre-9/11 state after we have withdrawn,” Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said. “They’ve already ramped up their attacks, taking new territory and bases since the (Biden) announcement was made. Without a military presence in country, the US is giving them room to deepen their relationship with terrorist groups like al-Qaida, who may seek to launch external attacks on us and our allies from the country once again.”
Some US lawmakers expressed their concerns about the future of women rights in the country once the international troops leave the country.
But Khalilzad said that the Taliban should also understand that the Afghanistan of today is very different than it was 20 years ago.
Khalilzad said that the US will maintain asset in the region and will continue to work closer with the Afghan counterparts.