ISS holds panel discussion

February 26, 2021

Islamabad: Former Ambassador Riaz Muhammad Khan has said that Biden administration does not want a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan but would rather prefer to maintain a residual presence.Mr...

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Islamabad: Former Ambassador Riaz Muhammad Khan has said that Biden administration does not want a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan but would rather prefer to maintain a residual presence.

Mr Khan was speaking at a panel discussion organised here by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Mr Khan said that the dilemma faced by the Biden administration is that maintaining the status quo in Afghanistan is not an option. He opined that a negotiated extension of US troop presence with the Taliban would be the only viable option for the new US administration at the moment.

Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, a member of the Afghan Parliament (Wolesi Jirga), said that while a new US administration gives hope, it is important to remember that the Afghan govt is one of the crucial strategic partners with the US in the peace process. She remarked that as the new US govt reviews this agreement to withdraw partially or fully, it cannot gain anything if the people of Afghanistan are not taken on board. Role of regional players like Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran, India, and the Central Asian states cannot be ignored and the US cannot end the conflict without their involvement.

Michael Kugelman from Wilson Centre said that the biggest hurdle for the new administration was that it could not be brought up to speed on the Afghan issue during the transition time period. Negotiating for an extension of US troop stay is what the new administration is currently looking into, however, to achieve this, the Taliban could ask for certain concessions in return, such as taking them off the US sanctions list or acquiring a sizeable piece in the future interim government setup.



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