In an interview with PTI ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this week, Zed tarar He reiterated US President Joe Biden’s message that the war in Afghanistan had achieved its core mission of eliminating the Al Qaeda terror network behind the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Now the focus is on working with “like-minded democracies and partners” like India to look to the next chapter of supporting the people of Afghanistan.
“The fact that India is a regional ally has a role to play; and the humanitarian role and investment role above is one that could have a positive impact on the future of Afghanistan,” said Tarar, Hindu / Urdu spokesperson with Headquartered in London for the US State Department.
“India, as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has a role to play. We are in close consultations in New York, New Delhi and Washington with India on this issue, ”he said.
US forces completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline, at the end of an “unprecedented airlift” to evacuate more than 100,000 people by air from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
On some of the international voices that questioned the timing and manner of the withdrawal, Tarar was adamant that it was time for the United States to end the war.
“I think what we have to be clear about is that the United States had a goal in Afghanistan and that was to eliminate Al Qaeda. We have completed that goal for many years. We have also trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan forces over the past 20 years at a cost of more than a trillion dollars. This was the time to end the war in Afghanistan and drive US and allied forces out of the country, ”he said.
“As President Biden has said, there will never be a perfect time to do this. We were never going to have perfect conditions on the ground, ”he said, adding that the president of the United States was determined not to hand the war over to the next head of the White House.
On the question of having to work with the Taliban in the future, the official said it was still early, as the United States wants the Taliban to keep their promises, and also pointed to the group’s designation as a terrorist group under US law.
“Right now, it is too early to say one way or another whether or not we can work with the Taliban. We will have to do with time. Our interests align with the Isis-K [terror group] The issue, whether we can work together or not, is difficult to say. I must also point out that the Taliban are a terrorist group designated by US law and the executive branch of the State Department will follow all federal regulations to deal with the Taliban, ”he said.
Referring to the other player in the region, Pakistan, the US official noted that the country has a role to play in “promoting a stable and secure Afghanistan.”
“We understand that the Pakistanis have clearly said that they want to see a peaceful Afghanistan, in which human rights are respected, and we hope that that remains the position,” he said.
When asked about the broader terrorist threat in the region and fears that the troop withdrawal has made the region more volatile, he reiterated that the United States reserves the right to take any necessary additional action against international terrorism.
However, attention must now also focus on the terrorist threats of the next decade and beyond.
Tarar said: “The United States takes the threat of international terrorism very seriously and we reserve the right to retaliate and dismantle terrorist networks wherever we find them. The truth is that, right now, the new threat we face is not coming from Afghanistan but from Africa.
“The threats that we are monitoring are not the threats of 2001, but the threats of today, in 2021. And we are also looking at what the next 10 years of threats would be. Just looking at Afghanistan and ignoring the rest of the world is a mistake. ”
In this context, he singled out the Islamic State (ISIS) network in the Sahel region of Africa as the “number one threat”, being closely monitored by the United States and its G7 partners.