KABUL – The Afghanistan government sought clarifications on Tuesday from the United States on President Donald Trump’s remarks that he could win the Afghan war in 10 days but that would mean wiping off Afghanistan from the face of the earth.
Trump made the statement as he met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House on Monday and said he was quite hopeful that Islamabad will help broker peace to end the 18-year Afghan war, apparently riling the government in Kabul.
“Given the multifaceted relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the government of Afghanistan calls for clarification and explanation on the US President’s remarks expressed at a meeting with the Pakistan prime minister,” Afghanistan’s presidential palace said in a statement.
“Afghanistan as one of the most deep-rooted and ancient countries of the world has been able to overcome countless crisis during history. The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” the statement said.
It said that Afghanistan’s cooperation and partnership with the world countries, particularly with the US, was based on “common interests and mutual respect.”
“While the Afghan government supports the US efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership. Afghanistan will remain dignified and firm in the global political arena,” it said.
The US president made the remarks as he sat down with Khan in the Oval Office in presence of the media.
“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth… It would be over literally in 10 days (but) I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said.
The remarks triggered sharp reactions in Afghanistan.
“Please don’t mislead the US public with dire scenarios of millions dying, that the military solution to Afghanistan requires killing millions. If you eliminate 15-30 tier one Taliban leaders living in Quetta Pakistan and placed 15-30 Pakistani generals on sanctions list, problem would be solved,” former head of the National Directorate of Security and presidential candidate Rahmatullah Nabil tweeted.
He asked Trump not to “present us with false binary choices and “explain how one wins a war without hitting an enemy’s command and control.”
“The Taliban command and control is in Quetta which you have left untouched.”
The controversy brewed as US Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is expected in Kabul on Tuesday to consult with the Afghan government on “next steps” in the peace process.
Khalilzad is expected to discuss, among other issues, a national negotiating team for intra-Afghan talks. He will then travel to Doha for next round of talks with the Taliban.
“I’m arriving in Kabul today, focused on achieving an enduring peace that ends the war, ensures terrorists do not use Afghanistan to threaten the US, honors the sacrifices that US, our allies and Afghans made, and cements an enduring relationship with Afghanistan” Khalilzad tweeted.