Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told reporters that he did not ask US President Joe Biden during their meeting to delay the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, but warned that the move will have consequences for both sides.
“President Biden’s decision is a transformational decision that is going to have consequential results both for the people of Afghanistan and for the people of the United States in the region,” Ghani said during remarks in Washington on Friday.
Ghani said discussions with the United States have been very productive and countries in the region should “bet” on the Afghan government to remain in power, not on other forces. Biden made clear that the United States will continue to provide security and humanitarian assistance to Afghansitan, Ghani said.
The Afghan president’s comments come during escalating violence and recent advances by the Taliban, which had won key territory and appeared to be encircling Kabul in recent weeks. Kabul has long accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting the Taliban, so it is reasonable to believe his comments on placing bets were aimed at Islamabad.
Moreover, he announced that Afghan security forces took back a number of districts that had fallen to the Taliban in southern and northern Afghanistan. Ghani called on the Taliban for a ceasefire and to return to the political process.
The Afghan government needs to manage the consequences that will emerge after the US withdrawal and the Afghan people must rise to the challenge, Ghani said.
The Afghan delegation met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers from Congress and there was a unified consensus that they would support Afghanistan, Ghani said.
Biden, in his remarks, said the United States would not abandon Afghanistan but did say the Afghan people have to decide their own future.
“Our troops may be leaving but our support for Afghanistan is not ending in terms of support and maintenance of helping maintain their military as well as economic and political support,” Biden told reporters as he met with Ghani.
Ghani tried to play to American heartstrings by invoking the US Civil War.
“The Afghan nation is in 1861 moment, like President [Abaham] Lincoln, rallying to the defense of the republic, determined that the republic is defended. It’s a choice of values — the values of an exclusionary system or an inclusionary system,” Ghani said alongside Biden on Friday. “We’re determined to have unity, coherence, national sense of sacrifice, and will not spare anything.”
Ghani also said he wanted to pay tribute to the 2,448 Americans who paid the “ultimate sacrifice,” and over a million veterans who served with honor and dignity.
“The United States has not spared any effort in blood or treasure during these years,” Ghani said. “And as a grateful nation, I want to acknowledge that and ask you… to thank the Gold Star families.”
Biden and Ghani met at the White House as US troops are leaving Afghanistan after over two decades of military operations there. The United States has already withdrawn more than half of its troops from Afghanistan and expects to largely complete by July, well ahead of the September 11 deadline.
The withdrawal is taking place amid uncertainty and increased violence in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, reports emerged claiming the US intelligence community estimates that the government of Afghanistan could collapse six months after the complete withdrawal of US forces. The US intelligence reportedly revised their initial, more optimistic estimates after the Taliban opposition movement seized dozens of localities in northern Afghanistan