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Biden says ‘May 1 deadline’ is hard in terms of tactical reasons

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(Last Updated On: March 26, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday at the first formal White House news conference of his presidency said that it would be “hard” to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by a May 1 deadline, but he added that he did not think they still would be there next year, Reuters reported.

Biden comments come as his administration strives to build international pressure on the Taliban and U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government to reach a peace agreement and a ceasefire before the deadline.

According to Reuters report peace talks, however, are stalled and by suggesting U.S. troops would be gone next year, Biden risked weakening Ghani’s bargaining hand and encouraging the Taliban, who U.S. officials say have stepped up violence in their quest to oust him, to play for time, some analysts said.

During the news conference Biden said it would be hard to meet the May 1 deadline to withdraw the last 3,500 U.S. troops “just in terms of tactical reasons.”

“It’s gone be hard to meet May 1 deadline in terms of tactical reasons hard to get those troops out,” Biden told reporters.

He apparently was referring to the enormous logistical challenges of pulling out the roughly 10,000 American and foreign troops and their equipment within the next six weeks.

Biden was asked if it was possible that there still would be U.S troops in Afghanistan next year. “I can’t picture that being the case,” he responded.

The Taliban have indicated they could resume attacks on foreign troops if Biden does not meet the May 1 deadline.

The deadline was set in a February 2020 deal struck with the Taliban under former President Donald Trump.

It called for a phased conditions-based drawdown of U.S. troops from America’s longest war. The Taliban were required to prevent Islamist militant groups such as al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base from which to attack U.S. and allied targets.

Trump, however, ordered the drawdown to proceed even though violence escalated, U.S. officials said the Taliban had failed to cut ties with al Qaeda and disputes delayed the start of the intra-Afghan talks on a ceasefire and a settlement to decades of strife.

Washington, meanwhile, has yet to act on its commitment to have U.N. and U.S. sanctions on senior Taliban leaders lifted.

The Taliban deny they are responsible for the surge in bloodletting or that there are al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

Biden noted that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in Europe meeting with U.S. allies that have troops in Afghanistan and “if we leave, we are going to do so in a safe and orderly way.”

“The question is how and in what circumstances do we meet that agreement that was made by President Trump to leave under a deal that looks like it’s not being able to be worked out to begin with,” Biden said.

“We will leave. The question is when we leave,” he added.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the withdrawal deal for Trump and was kept on by Biden, has circulated a U.S.-drafted peace proposal that would replace Ghani’s government with an interim power-sharing administration.

Ghani repeatedly has rejected stepping aside, saying any transfer of power would have to take place through elections as required by the constitution. Taliban officials have said they would not participate in an interim government, but would recommend members.

Biden comments comes after former US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said on Wednesday night he is very concerned about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and felt it could result in a “catastrophe” for the Afghan people and for the region.

Speaking at a Hoover Institute debate, McMaster said this “so-called responsible end of the war in Afghanistan, which I think could be catastrophic not only for the Afghan people but for the people of the region, for Europe; and also result in increased risk from Jihadist terrorist organizations”.

McMaster said he would like to ask President Joe Biden about the “resurrection of the language of responsible end of the war”. He said this term was last used in 2011 regarding the Iraq withdrawal.

“Of course we know what happened a couple of years later with the rise of ISIS there,” he said adding whether Biden was, as such, concerned “about replicating that experience in Afghanistan in a way that creates a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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‘I am still president of Afghanistan’, Ghani says in TV interview

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, said in the first television interview since he fled the country on August 15 last year that according to the country’s constitution, he is still technically the country’s president.

In an interview with the newly established ABN channel, Ghani said: “I am the president according to the constitution and until the people of Afghanistan legally elect someone else, I am the president.”

He also stated that he fled the country because he was afraid of being killed and did not want to face the same fate as Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, ex-president of Afghanistan who was assassinated in 1996.

However, many Afghans call him shameless, adding that Ghani’s escape caused serious misery among the people in the country.

In response to the question on why he fled Afghanistan, Ghani said that he was the last person to leave Afghanistan and most of the cabinet members, including the Minister of Defense, had already fled by the time he flew out.

“I was the last person to leave the country, and this was also so that the bitter experience of Dr. Najib regarding an Afghan president would not be repeated,” he said.

In addition, Ghani stated that all politicians had a part in the downfall of the previous regime and he accuses Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the National Reconciliation Council, for destabilizing the republic system. He also criticized Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistans who led peace talks with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and secured the Doha agreement in February 2020.

“Dr. Abdullah is responsible for not consolidating the republic, especially in the last seven years and secondly, he was in charge of the Afghanistan Peace Council, which step did he take on paper, which plan did he come up with, or in practice, when he went to Doha on a special plane and then came back on the day of Eid and said that the Taliban is not ready to make any kind of move,” Ghani added.

But Afghans at home lashed out at Ghani and said his words meant nothing and that he failed to even apologize for his actions.

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IEA commits to implementing Sharia law

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, acting Minister of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, said Thursday that he will not give into any international pressure on the hijab issue and will implement this Islamic rule.

Hanafi said that along with the members of the vice and virtue ministry, all religious scholars, imams at mosques and elders in communities should implement Islamic rules in society.

Hanafi said in the last 20 years, the mindset of young Afghans had changed considerably.

Currently, there are 8,000 people employed by the ministry who are mostly employed to ensure individual and social reforms are carried out.

A number of religious scholars, however, said that facilities should be provided for those who are busy at this ministry.

In relation to women’s rights, he stated that once again women’s rights will be ensured according to Sharia law.

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IEA hosts one day conference to attract investors in energy sector

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

A one-day conference attended by government officials, representatives of the international community and members of the private sector is being held in Kabul to attract investment in the energy and water sectors.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting Deputy Prime Minister, said in his opening speech the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to developing the country but urged the people to be patient adding “because we have to build this country ourselves”.

Baradar also pointed out that Afghanistan is potentially a wealthy country that has great investment opportunities.

He called on traders to invest in Afghanistan and said that the Afghan government would provide full security for new businesses.

Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting Minister of Energy and Water, also addressed delegates and said the IEA is committed to managing the country’s water efficiently and to producing enough energy for the people.

Mansour said the conference is being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA has paved the way for local and international business owners to invest in the sectors.

Shahabuddin Delavar, acting head of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum also addressed delegates and said its “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He also singled out a key private energy supplier in the country, Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it is hoped this will increase to 250MW.

“We welcome the company’s decision,” he said.

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