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US, NATO failed to bring peace, security to Afghanistan despite 20-year presence: Taliban FM

The Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, speaks during a program hosted by Islamabad-based Pakistani think tank, the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Pakistan, on November 12, 2021. (Photo by EPA)

Taliban's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi says the United States and NATO failed to bring peace and security to Afghanistan despite their presence in the country for two decades.

“Despite 50 nations, including the Americans and NATO, with their military, their technological power, present in Afghanistan for 20 years and with a lot of money that was poured in, still they failed to bring peace and security in Afghanistan, or eliminate the islands of power that existed in the country,” Muttaqi said on Friday.

The top Taliban official, who is leading a 20-member delegation on a three-day visit to Pakistan, made the remarks while addressing a seminar hosted by Islamabad-based Pakistani think tank, the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, where he was a guest speaker.

“Now that we have done all this, we have brought all these changes, and given assurances to the world, I do not understand what else the world wants from us,” Muttaqi added.

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, took power again on August 15 as the US was in the middle of a chaotic troop withdrawal. The group announced the formation of a caretaker government on September 7. No country has yet recognized the group’s rule.

The US completed its withdrawal in late August, in what observers saw as a botched exit after a futile military adventure that had lasted 20 years.

“In the past, most previous governments of Afghanistan had problems in two aspects: one, either the government completely submitted itself to foreign powers and bent down to all the requests of the foreigners, to the detriment of their own people,” Muttaqi noted.

“The other type of government was completely local-based and did not take into consideration the demands of the international community at all, which brought them at loggerheads with the outside world. We are currently trying to have a balanced policy where we can address the demands of both sides, without causing a clash with anyone,” Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed foreign affairs chief further said.

Afghanistan needs smaller military: FM

Elsewhere in his remarks, Muttaqi said that Afghanistan no longer needed a large army like the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which worked under the previous administration.

“The army that was created by foreign intervention, we are no longer in need of having such large numbers,” he noted, stressing that Afghanistan needed a small army “made up of people with fidelity and commitment and patriotism ingrained in them.”

Afghanistan is facing what UN agencies have described as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.” Western countries have cut off their aid to the country since the Taliban laid siege to Kabul three months ago, pushing desperate people to the brink of starvation.

Experts believe that with winter knocking on the heels, the crisis is expected to deteriorate.

Muttaqi’s comments came as Afghanistan’s economy slumps due to the stall in most aid and restrictions on the banking system put in place by international governments.

The US-led NATO alliance invaded the South Asian country in 2001 under the pretext of ‘war on terror’, to decimate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. None of the goals were achieved despite massive investment.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war on the country.

In his first congressional testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee members on September 28, Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the war in Afghanistan a “strategic failure”. He added, “There’s no way else to describe that.”

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