Ghani blames speedy US pullout for worsening violence
On Monday Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the American troops’ speedy pullout for the worsening violence in his country. He vowed his administration would now focus on protecting provincial capitals and major urban areas in the face of the rapidly advancing Taliban.
Afghan President urged lawmakers to back a national mobilization 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 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 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.
Ghani 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 forces backed by fighters loyal to veteran jihadi commander, Ismail Khan, pushed the Taliban insurgents out of Pul-e-Malan area of Herat, a victory that was followed by huge public support. On Monday evening, Herat residents took to their roots and chanted Allah hu Akbar slogan to express their support for the government forces.
Local officials in the southern Helmand province told media that the insurgents were mounting attacks to advance towards Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand province. On Monday, elite commando forces were deployed to defend Lashkar Gah.
The insurgents also attacked Kandahar airport with rockets, landing three rockets that hit the airport runway and led to a brief suspension of flight to or from Kandahar.
On Monday, the Afghan legislators declared firm support for the Afghan security and defense forces, saying that they would stand with the Afghan National Army.
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.