The Joe Biden administration has made it clear that it is not willing to let the Taliban have its way as the price for ending the war in Afghanistan amid reports of al Qaeda gaining strength in the country, according to former Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, Haqqani wrote that the Biden administration has grounds to believe that the Taliban has failed to keep the promise made in the Afghan peace deal.
“The Biden administration has slowed down the American rush to the exits in Afghanistan. On the campaign trail, Joe Biden committed himself to end ‘forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.’ But his promise to ‘bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan’ was qualified by a vow to ‘focus our mission on al Qaeda and ISIS,'” said Haqqani, who is the director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC.
The former Pakistan envoy said that after assuming the presidency, Biden has made it clear that he is not willing to let the Taliban have its way as the price for ending the Afghan war.
Haqqani said that the US-Taliban deal reached in Doha last year was predicated on the latter’s promise to cut off ties with al Qaeda. The peace dialogue after the signing of the US-Taliban deal was a “non-starter” as the Taliban refused to respect the gains for the Afghan people in the last two decades.
“The Taliban acted as if it was talking, as victors of a civil war, to other Afghan factions about a power-sharing agreement, albeit on the Taliban’s terms,” Haqqani added.
Walking away from Trump administration’s approach, Haqqani has suggested that the Biden team should let the Taliban know that Washington would maintain a smaller military presence in Afghanistan indefinitely and that it supported elected government in finding a settlement with the Taliban.
“Even Pakistan, which facilitated US dialogue with the Taliban and has long provided sanctuary to the group’s leaders, now seems to support such an approach while describing a hasty US withdrawal as ‘unwise’,” he wrote in The Hill.
Lauding the new administration’s recent moves, the former diplomat said that it has sensibly “reversed course” on bypassing the Afghan government in the peace process. Last week, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib and promised to review the US-Taliban agreement.
Sullivan made clear the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups and to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
US State Secretary Tony Blinken’s phone conversation with President Ashraf Ghani wasn’t any different. Blinken talked of “an enduring US-Afghan partnership” and said that Washington is reviewing the peace deal and whether the Taliban are living up to their commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups.
According to Haqqani, the recent moves by the Biden administration have sent a clear message to Taliban: “It will be accommodated within Afghanistan’s existing structure as the price for peace but should stop expecting to rule Afghanistan again.”
This news report was first published in ANI.