On a surprise visit, Patrick Shanahan, acting Pentagon chief landed in Afghanistan on 11th February (Monday) as the United States is looking forward to backing the Kabul government while brokering peace with the Taliban militia.
Shanahan would be meeting President Ashraf Ghani, whose government was not a part of major discussions, so far that was conducted between the US and Taliban officials last month. The negotiators are hopeful of the fact that the meeting would help in making any development in the grueling 17-year conflict. Patrick would be also meeting US troops also.
It is Patrick’s first trip to this new role. He further added that the US has some vested security interest in this region.
The US diplomat is hopeful that the discussions would be able to find a solution before the presidential election that is due to take place in July and also before the US pullout of troops. He even stated that till date he didn’t receive any instructions regarding the pull-out of around 14000 US troops from Afghanistan.
While the Taliban regard the Kabul administration as a mere puppet in the hands of the US; however, Ghani’s allies insist that the Afghan government should spearhead the peace process.
Shanahan informed reporters who were traveling with him on his undisclosed trip that it’s crucial for the Afghan government to be a part of the discussions. He even stated that the Afghans needs to decide the way Afghanistan should present itself in the near future. He added that it’s for Afghanistan and not the US.
Mr. Patrick came in place of Jim Mattis who resigned from his post due to policy differences with US President Donald Trump. He even stated that he won’t be able to provide any guarantees as Zalmay Khalilzad is going to head the discussions.
Shanahan even stated that the aim on his trip was to reach a conclusion about the ground situation from commanders and also to brief US president Trump about the things that come to his knowledge.
U.S. officials have conducted several rounds of discussions with the Taliban in Qatar since last year in what is being considered as the most serious effort for peace in Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
The next round of DISCUSSIONS is due in Qatar on Feb. 25.