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US chose to negotiate with Taliban as it was losing the war in Afghanistan, says former envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

09:55 AM Oct 25, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Washington: The United States chose to negotiate with the Taliban as it was losing the war, said former US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. Talking to CBS News, Khalilzad said the US military tried many times to strengthen its position on the battleground, but it failed.

"The negotiation was a result of—based on the judgment that we weren't winning the war and therefore time was not on our side and better to make a deal sooner than later," Tolo News quoted Khalilzad said.

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Khalilzad blamed the then-president Ashraf Ghani for the disintegration of Afghanistan's security sector, saying his escape triggered the chaos in the Afghan capital. He said that Washington chose the calender-based approach in its decisions on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and did not take into account the ground reality.

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Despite challenges and past failures, Khalilzad believes that the US counterterrorism mission in the country succeeded as "the terrorist threat from Afghanistan is not what it used to be" and al-Qaeda has been "devastated". At the same time, the former envoy admitted that in the 20 years of American military presence in Afghanistan, the country did not become a democracy.

Despite challenges and past failures, Khalilzad believes that the US counterterrorism mission in the country succeeded as "the terrorist threat from Afghanistan is not what it used to be" and al-Qaeda has been "devastated"

"On the issue of building a democratic Afghanistan, I think that the US did not succeed. The struggle goes on. The Talibs are a reality of Afghanistan. We did not defeat them," he said, noting that the Taliban have a different vision for the country, but there are hopes the more moderate views will prevail since the movement is fractured.

On October 18, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Khalilzad stepped down as a special Afghanistan envoy. Khalilzad said that he made the decision to resign at a time when Washington is beginning a new phase of policy toward Kabul following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

Khalilzad had led talks with the Taliban in Qatar that resulted in the Doha agreement between the Islamic group and former US President Donald Trump to fully withdraw US troops by May 2021. After Trump ended US opposition to speaking to the Taliban, Khalilzad engineered the release from a Pakistani jail of the group's co-founder Mullah Baradar and spent months with the rebels in Doha.

In interviews last month, Khalilzad said that he had reached a deal with the Taliban in which the insurgents would stay out of Kabul and negotiate a political transition. But Khalilzad said the deal collapsed when President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Also Read: As US envoy to Afghanistan steps down, know more about Zalmay Khalilzad who brokered US pullout deal

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