Pak high-level security meet endorses Biden’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Islamabad, Aug 16 (PTI) Pakistan’s high-level security huddle chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday endorsed US President Joe Biden’s decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, saying the presence of foreign troops for a longer period would not have produced a different result in the war-ravaged neighbouring country.

Senior political and military leaders, including Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, attended the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting which deliberated on the emerging situation in Afghanistan.

Khan’s office said in a statement that the participants were briefed on the latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan and the region, as the moot discussed the overall security situation in the region.

The NSC reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the conflict in Afghanistan never had a military solution, saying that the ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US and NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan.

Continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now would not have yielded a different outcome. Therefore, endorsement by the Biden administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troops’ withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict, it said.

It was now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for a long-term peace, security and development of Afghanistan and the region, the statement said.

The participants reiterated that Pakistan was committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward, representing all Afghan ethnic groups.

It was reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country. It was also stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to.

The NSC noted positively that major violence had been averted thus far and called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organisation or group against any country.

The meeting also said that Pakistan was a victim of the decades long conflict in Afghanistan and therefore desired peace and stability in the neighbourhood. It was emphasised that the world must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan over four decades.

Prime Minister Khan directed that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organisations seeking to leave Afghanistan and lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the state machinery.

Pakistan has a direct stake for peace in Afghanistan because the security situation in the neighbouring country has a direct bearing on the security situation in this country.

The Taliban on Sunday seized the last major city outside of Kabul held by the country’s central government, cutting off the Afghan capital to the east.

Taliban insurgents began moving towards Kabul following the overnight collapse of the two remaining cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.

US President Joe Biden in April announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, thus bringing to end the country’s longest war, spanning across two decades.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, but following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the brutal regime of the militant group came to an end as they were removed from power by US-led forces in 2001.

The group, however, has been on the offensive in recent months and is now on the brink of seizing power again. They entered direct talks with the US in 2018, and in February 2020. The two sides struck a peace deal in Doha that committed the US to withdrawal and the Taliban to prevent attacks on US forces.