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Johnson accused of complacency over Afghanistan retreat

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LONDON: In a packed, emotional session of parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced accusations on Wednesday from lawmakers across the political spectrum of needlessly abandoning Afghanistan to the whims of the Taliban and of undermining Britain’s position in the world.

The members of parliament were recalled from their summer break to attend the emergency session in London. Many, including a good number from Johnson’s Conservative Party, voiced strong regrets and fears at the chaotic turn of events in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has seized control 20 years after being driven from power by a US-led international force following the 9/11 attacks.

Johnson said he had little choice but to follow the decision of US President Joe Biden to take American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of August. The West could not continue this US-led mission, a mission conceived and executed in support of America, without American logistics, without US air power and without American might, he said.

“I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by Nato in Afghanistan,” he added.

The Taliban used the impending withdrawal of all remaining Nato forces to rapidly sweep through Afghanistan, reaching Kabul on Sunday, a stunning advance that was faster than anticipated, if not unexpected. In response, thousands of people have fled to Kabul Airport in a desperate attempt to flee as Western nations evacuate citizens and Afghan employees.

There’s been a major miscalculation of the resilience of the Afghan forces and a staggering complacency from our government about the Taliban threat, said Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party.

“A successful foreign policy strategy will be judged by our deeds, not by our words.”

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2021

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