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Kabul — President Ashraf Ghani on Monday blamed Afghanistan’s fast-deteriorating security situation on a “sudden” decision by the US to withdraw its troops, but said his government had a plan to bring conditions under control within six months.
Taliban insurgents have moved in on three provincial capitals in the past few days, amid rapid advances nationwide since Washington said it planned a complete withdrawal of troops by September. Most of the Taliban’s advances have focused on rural areas and they have yet to take full control of a major city.
“The current situation is due to a sudden decision on the withdrawal of the international troops,” Ghani told the Afghan parliament in a speech. “We have had an unexpected situation in the last three months.”
However, the Afghan government had a security plan to bring the situation under control within six months, he added, and the US supported the plan. Details have not been made public.
The Taliban would not move towards peace unless the worsening security situation was curbed, Ghani said.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators started in 2020 in the Qatari capital of Doha, but have not made any substantive progress despite a few rounds.
The two sides committed to speeding up the talks, however, at a recent meeting in Doha between a high-level Afghan political delegation and the Taliban.
Ghani said the militants had not severed ties with terrorist groups, and had stepped up attacks on women and civil society activists.
The US and Britain have accused the Taliban of atrocities that could amount to war crimes in the town on Spin Boldak. “The Taliban massacred dozens of civilians in revenge killings. These murders could constitute war crimes,” the embassies of Washington and London said in separate tweets.
It was time the Taliban and the Afghan government accepted each other and moved towards a peaceful solution, he added.
The Taliban rejected Ghani’s accusations.
“Declarations of war, accusations and lies cannot prolong Ghani’s government’s life; his time has run out, God willing,” the movement’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Twitter.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.