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News

World must look into ‘meltdown’ of Afghan forces: Pakistan

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Photo by SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

PAKISTAN has urged the international community to look into the “meltdown” of Afghan security forces in the face of Taliban offensives, instead of blaming Pakistan for the fast-deteriorating situation.

Taliban fighters have swiftly gained territory across Afghanistan since May, including six provincial capitals in the last three days, as international forces near a complete withdrawal from the country after 20 years of fighting.

“The capacity-building, the training, the equipment … where is it?” Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked at a news conference on Monday (9), referring to the resources spent by other countries, particularly the United States, on bolstering Afghan national forces.

“Issues of governance and the meltdown of Afghan national defence forces need to be looked into,” he said.

Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the failure of others, he said.

Kabul and several western governments said Pakistan’s support for the Taliban allowed it to weather 20 years of war after being pushed from power in 2001 by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies supporting the Taliban. Qureshi said Islamabad was not taking sides in Afghanistan.

“The lack of will to fight, the capitulation that we are seeing in Afghanistan … Can we be held responsible for that? No, we cannot,” Qureshi said, adding that Pakistan supported a political solution to bring peace to Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan had been instrumental in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the United States and facilitated the resultant agreement between the two in Doha last year. Pakistan, Qureshi said, had also helped convene peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in September last year, which have since stalled.

Qureshi said Islamabad was concerned at the violence and the lack of progress in the talks, saying that Pakistan had the most to lose from an unstable Afghanistan as a direct neighbour.

Questioning the pullout of US forces, Qureshi said Pakistan thought the withdrawal would be tied to progress in the peace talks.

Other regional countries, including Afghanistan, have also blamed what they termed a “hasty” and unconditional withdrawal of foreign troops for the success of the Taliban.

Qureshi said there would be a meeting in Doha on Wednesday (11) of the “Troika”, a platform to discuss Afghanistan, led by the US, China, Russia.

The meeting is three weeks before the August 31 deadline that Washington set for the official withdrawal of its military forces from Afghanistan.

Eastern Eye

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