Pakistan says United States troop withdrawal 'step forward' in Afghan peace effort

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but American and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and working to train and build the Afghan military.

The spokesman for Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani said on Friday the of half of the 14,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan will have little impact on the fighting capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces.

"A US military drawdown without a well thought out strategy behind it and without concerted efforts with internal and regional stakeholders could further exacerbate the conflict in the country and intensify competition among regional stakeholders", Mir says, referring to countries that have been accused of providing support to the Taliban, including Pakistan, Iran, and Russian Federation.

But there was no sign the Taliban were ready to move on the two major sticking points: Direct talks with the Afghan government and a cease fire while the two sides negotiate Khalilzad's so-called "roadmap for the future of Afghanistan".

"A complete withdrawal of USA forces would very likely cause the Taliban to make gains in key areas throughout Afghanistan", Roggio said.

Afghan government has accused the Taliban extremist group of not being committed to peace process by refusing to negotiate with the Afghan peace negotiators recently in Abu Dhabi.

The already worsening security situation in Afghanistan is likely to be exacerbated by a USA troop reduction, according to analysts.

Khalilzad has tweeted that talks held in United Arab Emirates were "productive".

Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, says the timing of Trump's troop-withdrawal decision "is breathtakingly bad".

Peace talks aside, the announced withdrawal has Afghan generals and analysts anxious about the ability of the beleaguered Afghan National Afghan Security Force to stave off a Taliban insurgency unfettered by USA troops and their pounding air power. "This will also force the Afghan government to think about peace as a short-term prospect instead of something that could be delayed for years".

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. He said most of the USA forces likely to be withdrawn "are engaged in a training and advising mission for Afghan forces, and Afghan forces are capable of defending the country".

President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman on Friday said that a reduction in number of the troops will not affect the security of the country.

A Taliban official told The Associated Press the announcement was a positive step.

  • Joey Payne