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Do not underestimate Afghan security forces: US envoy

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: U.S. lawmakers worried about the impending withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan got a dose of cautious optimism from the diplomat who helped negotiate last year’s deal with the Taliban that paved the way for the upcoming pullout.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States’ special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, telling members that while the Taliban have not quite lived up to all aspects of their agreement, the country’s future is far from lost.

“I do not believe that the government is going to collapse, that the Taliban is going to take over,” Khalilzad said. “I don’t personally believe that there will be an imminent collapse.”

“It would be a mistake in my judgment to dismiss the Afghan security forces as not being a credible force that could perform well, although they will face more difficult circumstances,” he added.

Critics of the withdrawal have voiced concern about the future of Afghanistan since U.S. President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that he was pulling the 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops out of the country beginning May 1.

This is as the ministry of defense assured that there would be no security vacuum once the US-led foreign soldiers exit in some four months.

A spokesman of Afghan defense ministry, said the Afghan security and defense forces were able to fill a vacancy made post-US withdrawal.

“The Afghan defense ministry is ready to take responsibility. We hold certain plans for the transfer process and we work on the plan. People should not worry and no vacancy will be made,” Fawad Aman had said.

Meanwhile, the CIA Chief William Joseph Burns recently made a secret visit to Kabul and met Afghan officials, assuring of the US continued cooperation with Afghan government against terrorism.

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