Sunday 25 August 2019

'Wipeout' war claims spark protests from angry Afghans

Visitor: Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, at the White House with Donald Trump. Photo: Getty
Visitor: Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, at the White House with Donald Trump. Photo: Getty

Jon Gerberg

Afghanistan has called for an explanation of Donald Trump's comments that he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by "wiping out" the country.

The US president, speaking during a visit by Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, went on to say that he "did not want to kill 10 million people".

President Ashraf Ghani of Aghanistan immediately asked for "clarification" about Mr Trump's statement "via diplomatic means and channels", his office said yesterday.

"If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth," Mr Trump said on Monday.

"It would be over in literally, in 10 days."

He did not elaborate on how that would be done.

Mr Trump and Mr Khan, discussed a number of bilateral issues during the Pakistani leader's visit to Washington, including ending the war in Afghanistan.

"We're working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves," said Mr Trump.

"Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we're policemen right now. And we're not supposed to be policemen."

The statement from Ghani's office said that while it "supports the US efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan's fate".

On social media, Afghans and analysts retaliated with their own bombardment of criticism.

Rahmatullah Nabil, a candidate in Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election, said that in response to the president's "insults" all Afghan leaders, from Ghani to the Taliban, "should drop their selfishness & announce that, we will make peace among ourselves".

There is no need for mediation from the US or Pakistan, he added.

Zaman Sultani, a South Asia researcher for Amnesty International argued via tweet that "There is no need to wipe off #AFG from the face of earth.

"The country is devastated by the meaningless war by the #Taliban and the corrupted & incapable #government."

He also urged Mr Trump to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan, which saw record highs last year.

The US has been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, when it sent troops to the country after the 9/11 attacks to root out al-Qa'ida militants. It is the longest war in US history.

A statement from Mr Khan said he and Mr Trump were "strengthening cooperation between the two countries to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity in South Asia".

"The two leaders reviewed progress of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process," it added.

The statement from Ghani's office yesterday described Afghanistan as "one of the most deep-rooted and ancient countries of the world," which has overcome many crises.

"The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate," it said.

Senior Afghan politicians largely refrained from comment, but commenters on social media were infuriated.

"Your insulting message is either accept the (Pakistani) proposal for peace or …you may have to use nukes," ex- intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil wrote on Twitter.

"The statement was embarrassing and an insult to all Afghans," said Shakib Noori, an entrepreneur based in Kabul, the capital.

Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan-American author of the best-selling novel 'The Kite Runner', which introduced Afghanistan to many foreign readers, called Mr Trump's remarks "reckless, appalling".

Others pointed out that the Afghan government had no effective recourse over Mr Trump's remarks because of its dependence on billions of dollars of aid from the US every year.

"Those who feed you also command you," one commenter, Yazdan Hatami, wrote on Facebook.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran Afghan-American diplomat who has been leading negotiations with the Taliban, said Mr Trump's comment showed that only a political settlement made sense.

Trump "reiterated that there is no reasonable military solution to the war in Afghanistan, and that peace must be achieved through a political settlement," Mr Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.

"Pakistan committed to do all it can to achieve peace." (© The Washington Post)

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