Afghanistan's Envoy to U.S. Says Pressure on Ghani to Resign Comes From Taliban, Not Citizens

Afghanistan's ambassador and envoy to the U.S. Adela Raz said Friday that the Taliban, not citizens, is pressuring President Ashraf Ghani to resign.

"It's an ask the Taliban has been saying from the first day," she told PBS NewsHour on Friday.

Over the past week, the Taliban has taken control at least 10 provincial capitals in an offensive that began after President Joe Biden announced in July that the U.S.'s long military operation in Afghanistan will end on August 31.

The government is working on a settlement to end the conflict, according to Raz, "if the people decide who to elect."

Raz noted that Afghan officials sent a negotiating team to Doha, Qatar, to reach a settlement in which the Taliban agreed to not attack the big cities when the U.S. troops withdraw. But she said the Taliban has not taken these talks seriously, with "the massacre of civilians" occurring as U.S. troops began withdrawing.

Raz said that the government is working to protect the capital Kabul, where displaced residents "have arrived from those provinces of Afghanistan where their lives were threatened by overtake of Taliban of their households...strategically, it's extremely important for the government."

Raz believes that the Afghan security forces are working hard in battling the Taliban "but nothing is helping."

"I think our allies here in the U.S. have also lost the psychological war. Despite how much we say we have not abandoned Afghanistan...the assumption and the story back at home is, they are abandoned," she added.

Recent videos show Taliban militants entering key cities including Herat, Kandahar, and Ghanzi, and on Friday they completed the seizure of four more provincial capitals.

Many in the U.S. military have been surprised by how fast the Taliban has seized control of much of Afghanistan.

"We're certainly concerned by the speed with which the Taliban has been moving," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday afternoon. "It's deeply concerning."

On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the Biden administration to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban to "prevent the seemingly imminent fall" of Kabul.

The Taliban pressures Ghani to resign
Afghan envoy to the U.S. Adela Raz said Friday the Taliban is pressuring President Ashraf Ghani to resign. Above, a makeshift camp on August 10 in the capital Kabul as residents flee the northern provinces. Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images