Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to Taliban; withdrawal was preplanned, says NATO secretary

AgenciesUpdated: Monday, September 13, 2021, 04:27 PM IST
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg | TOLONews Twitter feed

New Delhi: Afghanistans political and military leadership are to be blamed for the quick collapse of the former government, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while absolving the US and NATO of the responsibility, TOLO News reported on Sunday.

"Parts of the Afghan security forces fought bravely. But they were unable to secure the country. Because ultimately, the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban and to achieve the peaceful solution that Afghans desperately wanted.

"This failure of Afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today," he said.

According to Stoltenberg, the withdrawal of the US-NATO soldiers was pre-planned, and it was not a cause for the collapse of the Afghan state.

"We never intended to stay in Afghanistan forever. Over the past few years, from over 100,000 troops we went down to less than 10,000 - and now to zero. But what we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which had not been anticipated," he added.

The speed with which Afghan troops weakened during the Taliban’s offensive “was a surprise,” said Stoltenberg after a NATO meeting to discuss the security effects of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, while also admitting “there are lessons that need to be learned", as per a voanews.com report.

The Taliban, however, blamed the US and NATO for the collapse of the former government, saying that Washington and the Alliance used Afghanistan to reach their own goals.

"When the Americans left, the administration collapsed automatically. Therefore, they are responsible for this crisis," said Abdulhaq Emad, a Taliban official.

Aziz Maarej, a military analyst, said the US and its allies in cooperation with the leaders of the former Afghan government were involved in the collapse of the government.

"The US was in control. It was a plan of the United States, and its representative was travelling between Kabul and Qatar. Their forces were present here. They appointed corrupt officials and imposed them on the people," he said.

Former US President Donald Trump also on Sunday called the US soldiers' withdrawal from Afghanistan irresponsible.

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