4 min read
03 Aug

I understand that there are different views; But the president of the United States, starting with Barack Obama - the former president -, decided that there is no solution to the problem and there must be a political solution. Also, the United States wanted to adapt to the situation in which the world is now - the problem of terrorism has changed, and given that there is no solution and military challenges such as a great power competition have arisen.

Zalmi Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Peace, pointing out that; No side can win from seeing the war, says the US is committed to reaching a political settlement for the warring parties.

Just as the deadline for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan ends by the end of August, Zalmi Khalilzad, in an interview with the Voice of America, talks about the responsibility towards Afghanistan and what will happen after leaving the country, and whether the Taliban has already signed its February agreement with the American government.

Zalmi Khalilzad, the US ambassador of Afghan descent, told Voice of America Islamabad's Ayazgol via Zoom, concluding that if the Taliban force Afghanistan out, they will not gain official international recognition and that it will "turn into a government".

Do you think the United States, after leaving the country, has a political and moral responsibility to make sure that others will not go into civil war, as it did in pursuit of the Soviet army in 1989?
Well, you brought up an important point; This is the point that we had in mind that what happened in the nineties was repeated that by working alongside the Afghans, we were doing a great job. With our support and the payment of a great sacrifice by the Afghans, they drove the Soviets out of the country, and then a terrible war broke out and, obviously, after September 11th, they brought challenges. Therefore, I do not want to repeat this problem. That is why I can leave Afghanistan. But, we didn't need to do that. 

We have an agreement that in principle they should come out. As part of the strategy, we are making a decision to withdraw US forces. But, along with that, let's begin to open the key package by which the peace process will end the Afghan war - a very long war - in which a lot of suffering has been done. The deal with the Taliban has provided the opportunity for Afghans to sit down on both sides of the table – a historic development – and reach an agreement where a solution is agreed upon that provides government funding and international support. Unfortunately, both sides did not take advantage of the opportunity as quickly as we would have liked. They wish for peace, they wish for peace.

 We are always looking for ways and possibilities to accelerate conversations. Because we do not see a political solution for the war in Afghanistan. It should be a political solution, a political agreement for lasting peace, and he thinks about this issue, and until this goal is truly achieved, he will reach the result.

Aren't the Taliban violating the agreement and letter they showed at the Doha Summit with their seismic efforts to conquer Afghanistan and use violence and targeted killing in the fight against taking over absolute power?
Well, the agreement required the Taliban and they told the Taliban to negotiate for an Islamic state and a comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan. 

On top of that, everyone agrees that there are challenges and problems from the governments in accepting the ideas of the new Islamic state, and they want to force the government to implement the new Islamic government, and the way they see it, a new constitution, they have sought profit through force. That there must be a political formula in between. According to our assessment, the government cannot get rid of the Taliban and the Taliban cannot be controlled and become the owner of a government that has more support from Afghans and international support. Maybe some Taliban think that there is a way to solve this problem, but they say something else. When the Taliban talk to us, they say there is no solution.

 However, if their military leaders or their commanders think so, they are not right. Because, there will be resistance against them and there will be an international orientation against them. They will not be recognized, they will not do the international work, and they will become a rejected government, as they say. demanding it The wise thing for both sides is to respond quickly, urgently and seriously to the aspirations of the Afghan people for a political settlement. The history of Afghanistan in these 45-years has shown that any attempt by one side to meet its demands will be met with war and threats against others. 

I hope that Afghanistan's leaders will learn this lesson and come to a solution that has a solution to it, accept the rights of all starters and that. These rights should be respected and people should have a role in how they are governed. I hope this is a lesson learned. As disappointing as the current situation is, with the images coming out of places like Lashkargah, the amount of violence and suffering is heartbreaking.

Afghan officials, and even some in the United States, tell you that they have been critical of what they believe to be bad opposition to the Taliban. Agreements that have certainly paved the way for the withdrawal of American troops. But at the same time, it has fueled violence in the country and hindered progress in peace talks.

I understand that there are different views; But the president of the United States, starting with Barack Obama - the former president - decided that there is no military solution to the problem of Afghanistan and there must be a political solution. Also, the United States wanted to adapt to the situation in which the world is now - the problem of terrorism has changed, and given that there is no military solution and new challenges such as a great power competition have arisen. Afghanistan is not the center of al-Qaeda; The terrorist group that threatens the world and the fact that the United States needed to adapt until the agreement on the withdrawal of the United States was made, and this adaptation was to get the Taliban to negotiate with the government. 

This agreement, as you know, was signed more than a year ago - 15, 16 months - and of course the Afghan government knew this and the time of withdrawal was clear. The Biden administration, therefore, added some time. We were supposed to leave there by May; But the president has decided that the withdrawal will be completed by August.

 This agreement gave an opportunity for peace and adjustments were made on the part of the United States from the point of view of the security situation around the world. Therefore, this is now the duty of Afghanistan's leaders. The Taliban government must also recognize that there is no military solution; That one side will not be able to conquer Afghanistan and have a stable Afghanistan; At peace with ourselves and the world without any kind of political agreement, losing this opportunity and not repeating the mistakes of the past.

To what extent is the Afghan government responsible for the current situation, and what is your reaction to the behavior of the security forces on the battlefield and enabling the Taliban to take more territories?
As you know, the Afghan security forces are far superior to the Taliban in terms of numbers. They have more than 300,000 soldiers, they have air force and special forces, they have heavy equipment and proper leadership, political and military strategy and proper plan and implementation. 

Government forces should have done much better than this. We continue to support the Afghan security forces and are committed to supporting these forces in the future as well. The president wants three billion dollars from his next year's budget to support Afghanistan's security forces. Therefore, the issue is political and military leadership; A leadership that unites Afghanistan's leaders and motivates the troops to fight for a just cause, then has the right plan, the right tactics, and the right execution. I understand that the Afghan leadership has looked at how to adjust its approach based on the past experiences that you mentioned.

Do you feel frustrated by the warring parties in Afghanistan?
Well, I'm more concerned about the lack of progress. I know that there was a big gap and it is still a big gap between the two sides; But, they should prioritize the leader or the interests of the country; to their interests or their factional interests. Peace cannot be established without reconciliation, without fighting, without respecting the fundamental rights of all Afghan men and women and the competence of Afghans, and finally without the will of the people and what happens to them; But, for the short term, although these are the things that will really be decisive in the long term. The responsibility for this rests with the leaders; Zerap, people have somehow exhausted the argument. Both sides argue that they are God's people and are fighting for the right cause. Well, nothing, morally speaking, is worse than killing innocent people every day and innocent people being killed. Unfortunately, innocent people are killed every day and it is the responsibility of the leaders to accept each other as Afghans, as fellow Afghans or citizens of a country that has suffered for a long time, and the eyes of the Afghan people are really focused on their leaders and the eyes of the international community as well. The question that really arises is "will these leaders be suitable and put their country first; Or will they go down in history as people who put their interests or the interests of their faction first?" And in this way, they will be harshly judged by people.

Pakistani leaders say they are doing everything they can and remain determined to commit themselves to Afghanistan's diplomacy in seeking to resolve the dispute with the remaining rivals. 

Do you support and agree with the statements of Pakistanis? Is Islamabad still dominated by the Taliban?
Well, I think; As the Pakistani leaders say - and we agree with them - the continuation of the war in Afghanistan will have negative messages for Pakistan. Because neighbors who are at war can only create. For example: refugees, violence, loss of economic opportunities for trade, loss of opportunities to connect Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia to each other. 

There are increased opportunities for regional cooperation that the war puts at risk. Therefore, it has a special role and responsibility, considering that one of the Taliban leaders is based in Pakistan. They should try to find a political solution as soon as possible in the morning. Because whether the right thing is done or not, and whether anything I can do, or will do, to promote a political settlement will be judged internationally.

But I believe that it is generally accepted that a political solution will end the war and it is certain that Afghanistan is not a threat to any country in the world. It doesn't make Afghanistan a haven for terrorists either, and it's an Afghanistan that gets better and more than Pakistani leaders tell me, which is exactly what they want and strive for. However, Pakistan has a special role and responsibility in the conflict in Afghanistan.


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