Washington DC [US], April 28 (ANI): With the United States set to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, US lawmakers expressed concern whether women would be safe if the Taliban become strong in the country.
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US policy in Afghanistan where lawmakers questioned him about how Afghan women will be protected if the Taliban takes control after American troops leave the country, Tolo News reported.
"How we withdraw and what political arrangement is left in our wake matters deeply," said US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez. "If the Taliban were to come back to power, the reality for Afghanistan's women and girls, I think, would be devastating," he added.
Menendez said that he doesn't "believe under any circumstances that the United States Senate will support assistance for Afghanistan, especially under the World Bank's program which provides budget support, if the Taliban has taken a governing role that ends civil society advances and rolls back women's rights."
However, US special envoy said any future support to a government that included the Taliban would be conditional.
"If they do want US assistance, they want international acceptance ... those things will be all affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost the women of Afghanistan, children and minorities," Khalilzad told the senators.
Asked if the US would keep any leverage to protect those rights once its troops are gone, Khalilzad said aid and other types of diplomatic support "would be not available if they did not respect the human rights of Afghan women or others," Tolo News reported.
US Senator Jim Risch said the US military withdrawal should proceed only with safeguards for the gains the US has made in Afghanistan.
"I have deep concerns about the administration's rush for the exits in Afghanistan," Risch said. "I hope I'm wrong, but I'm concerned that the administration's decision may result in a Taliban offensive that topples the government."
But Khalilzad said that he doesn't "believe the (Afghan) government is going to collapse or the Taliban is going to take over."
Khalilzad echoed Biden and other administration officials in saying the US would remain committed to Afghanistan and its development and human rights gains made since 2001 despite the withdrawal. (ANI)