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Afghan president vows to remobilize forces in face of Taliban surge

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan policemen stand guard at a checkpoint along the road in Kabul, August 14, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has promised to stop violence “as a historic mission” amid the Taliban’s advances nationwide and the group’s capturing a key town not far from the capital Kabul.

In a televised speech on Saturday, Ghani said he held urgent talks with local leaders and international partners.

“As your president, my focus is on preventing further instability, violence and displacement of my people,” he said.

The president said that “reintegration of the security and defense forces is our priority, and serious measures are being taken in this regard.”

“I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said.

Without mentioning the Taliban request for his resignation, Ghani said he had begun “extensive consultations at home and abroad” and that the “results” would soon be shared.

He made the remarks as several of his close political associates have surrendered to the Taliban.

The militant group had demanded the president’s resignation for any talks on a ceasefire and a political settlement.

The Taliban seized the country’s second- and third-largest cities on Friday, and are now pushing close to the capital with capturing a town 70 kilometers south of Kabul.

The city, Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province fell to the hands of the Taliban on Saturday, a local provincial council member told Reuters.

The speed of the Afghan cities’ collapse, combined with days of clashes in Kabul and the militants’ race to take the capital, have forced thousands of people to flee the city.

In the meantime, the United States, Britain and several other Western countries are scrambling to airlift their nationals out of Kabul.

A US military official warned before the fall of Pul-e-Alam that there was concern that the Taliban could make a move on Kabul within days.

“Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment, but clearly … if you just look at what the Taliban has been doing, you can see that they are trying to isolate Kabul,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

The Taliban was ousted from power in 2001 after the US invasion of Afghanistan. But two decades of war and occupation worsened the security situation in the country.

The former supreme commander of NATO in Europe, General Wesley Clark, has blamed Washington for the current crisis in Afghanistan.

He told CNN on Thursday that the unfolding situation in Afghanistan was the result of “20 years of American misjudgments, of poor prioritizations and failed policies.”

“For the Biden administration I think they reached the end of the road,” he added.

US President Joe Biden announced the timeline for the US withdrawal in April, saying he was determined to end the United States’ longest war.

His decision led the other nations in the NATO coalition, including Britain, to announce their own departures.

US senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has also blasted Biden for his “reckless policy” on Afghanistan.

Biden, however, said this week he did not regret his decision to follow through with the withdrawal.

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