Ghani blames country’s ‘deteriorating’ situation on US withdrawal
The Taliban on Monday warned Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani that his time had “run out” and that his “declarations of war, accusations and lies could not prolong”.
The statement came from Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet. Mujahid also dismissed Ghani’s speech as “nonsense” and “an attempt to control his fears and dire situation”.
“Nation has decided to pursue and bring national traitors to justice,” Mujahid added.
Earlier in the day, President Ghani blamed Afghanistan’s fast-deteriorating security situation on a “sudden” decision by the United States to withdraw its troops but said his government had a plan to bring conditions under control within six months.
Taliban had moved in on three provincial capitals in the last few days, amid rapid advances nationwide since Washington said it planned a complete withdrawal of troops by September.
“The current situation is due to a sudden decision on the withdrawal of the international troops,” Ghani told the Afghan parliament in a speech.
“We have had an unexpected situation in the last three months,” he said. However, the Afghan government had a security plan to bring the situation under control within six months, he added, and the United States supported the plan.
The Taliban would not move towards peace unless the worsening security situation was curbed, Ghani said.
Ghani said the Taliban had not severed ties with ‘terrorist groups’, and had stepped up attacks on women and civil society activists.
It was time the Taliban and the Afghan government accepted each other and moved towards a peaceful solution, he added.
Afghan forces battled Monday to stop a first provincial city from falling to the Taliban following weekend offensives from the insurgents on urban centres in a major escalation in fighting.
Meanwhile, Taliban fighters assaulted at least three provincial capitals overnight — Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Herat — after a weekend of heavy fighting that saw thousands of civilians flee the advancing militants.
Fighting raged in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah, where the Taliban launched coordinated attacks on the city centre and its prison — just hours after the government announced the deployment of hundreds of commandos to the area.
Fighting has intensified since early May, with the insurgents capitalizing on the final stages of the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces after almost 20 years.
“Afghan forces on the ground and by air strikes repelled the attack,” the military in Helmand said of the assault on Lashkar Gah.— Agencies