Addressing a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday night, April 28, for the first time since his election, the country’s President Joe Biden reiterated on ending what he has repeatedly described as the “forever war” in Afghanistan.
“I’m the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in a war zone. Today, we have service members serving in the same war zone as their parents did. We have service members in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11,” he asserted in his speech.
The US President has said that they have achieved for what they had invaded Afghanistan and degraded the terrorist threat of al-Qaida and Afghanistan. “We delivered justice to Bin Laden,” Biden noted, adding that after 20 years of value, valor, and sacrifice, it is the time to take those troops home.
He, however, stressed that terrorism has metastasized and its threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan. “Even as we do [withdraw], we’ll maintain over the horizon capacity to suppress future threat to the homeland.”
On April 14, the US President announced that all US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Later, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also announced that NATO forces will start leaving Afghanistan on May 01 and will complete the withdrawal process together with the US troops.
On Tuesday, April 27, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN that no one has an interest in a renewed civil war in Afghanistan. “Neither the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been freed riders for the last 20 years, as we have been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Dawn News reported today, Thursday, April 29, that the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has discussed the situation in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa via a phone conversation.
Secretary Austin and Gen Bajwa discussed the importance of regional stability and the desire of the United States and Pakistan to continue working together on shared goals and objectives in the region, it added.
US special envoy of Afghanistan’s reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a Congress briefing held on Tuesday, said that the future of Afghanistan peace depends on the political settlement the Afghans make.
“The opportunity is once again confronting them and it’s up to them,” Khalilzad said.