Indian-American Congressman backs Trump on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
Washington, Dec 21: US President Donald Trump Friday received unusual support from an Indian-American Democratic lawmaker on his reported plans for a substantial troop withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Congressman Ro Khanna, who was recently re-elected from the 17th Congressional District of California, said President Trump's instincts to withdraw from Afghanistan were correct.
He said to end the security challenge posed by terrorism in the war-torn country, it was important to encourage local peacebuilding efforts and engaging regional actors such as India and Pakistan.
"In sum, Trump's instincts to withdraw are correct. But the tactical implementation matters. He needs to surround himself with people like George Shultz, Bill Perry, Larry Korb, or Ben Rhodes who can help him carry it out," Khanna said in a statement.
So far, he is the only Democratic lawmaker to support Trump on his reported move in Afghanistan.
The White House so far has refrained from making any comment on the move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
An overwhelming majority of lawmakers have vehemently opposed the idea. They argue that this will embolden Taliban and make America unsafe.
Khanna, who has been a bitter critic of Trump, in an unusual statement said he supported a responsible withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan.
"If we hope to end the security challenge posed by terrorism, the answer is not an indefinite deployment of US troops in the region. Instead, we must have a robust, multilateral, and inclusive diplomatic initiative to encourage national reconciliation, local peacebuilding efforts, and the engagement of regional actors such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China, and India," Khanna said.
The State Department needs a strategy to secure an inclusive and lasting peace settlement, a plan for the full withdrawal of US troops from the country and sustained support for nonmilitary peacebuilding solutions to secure any political settlement reached by the Afghan people, he said.
"We also need a short timeline for withdrawal so there can be a smooth transition, a sense of the intelligence platforms and networks that can replace them to guard against terrorist threats, and a plan on how we would act on actionable intelligence if terrorists posed a threat to our homeland," Khanna said.
He said the current approach of engaging in direct talks with the Afghan Taliban as a means of achieving a political solution to the conflict was good.
"After 17 years of war, we need a negotiated political settlement to the war that is acceptable to the Afghan people and allows the United States to end our involvement in war as soon as possible," he said.
"Over USD 43 billion dollars are currently being spent on Afghanistan each year and the Taliban now exerts influence or maintains control over 50 per cent of Afghan territory. This shows our military-first strategy and the surge is not working," Khanna added.
According to media reports, the White House has ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The White House has asked the Pentagon to look into multiple options, including a complete withdrawal, NBC News reported quoting two defense officials.