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Biden’s Division Comment Unites Afghans

11 Feb 2020 Gandhara - RFE/RL

Recent comments by former U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden saying that “there is no possibility of uniting” Afghanistan has prompted many Afghans to unite in questioning and condemning his claim.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared the remarks "irresponsible" and "unrealistic." In a statement, he said that "it is evident that the U.S. has never sought nation-building in Afghanistan."

In a February 8 debate among U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls, Biden said he favored counterterrorism and opposed nation building in Afghanistan.

“There’s no possibility to uniting that country -- no possibility at all of making it a whole country,” he said during the debate. “But it is possible to see to it they’re not able to launch more attacks from the region on the United States of America."

Omar Zakhilwal, a former Afghan ambassador and minister, reminded Biden that few countries in the world could have endured what Kabul has endured during the past four decades.

“No country in the World could go through 40 years of back to back invasions, interferences, wars and periods of statelessness and still remain one piece with not a single citizen ever asking for opting out,” he wrote on Twitter. “But Afghanistan has and will continue to be one inseparable piece all testament to strong and inseparable nationhood.”

Afghan presidential spokeswoman Durani Jawed Waziri agreed.

“The people of Afghanistan are a unified nation. We have been with each other through everything, and we have fought against the enemies of Afghanistan as a united nation,” she was quoted as saying by Afghanistan’s Tolo News television.

The reality of unity in Afghanistan is more complicated. It is true that modern Afghanistan has not been seriously threatened by separatism. But Afghan political elites have been anything but united since a communist military coup in April 1978.

Currently, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are engaged in a tense political standoff over last September’s presidential election. In its preliminary results in December, the Afghan election commission declared Ghani the winner, but Abdullah challenged the results.

Since 2014, the two have partnered in a national unity government that frequently showed rifts on critical policies, appointments, and national issues. The government is also divided over how to approach negotiations with the Taliban, who are fighting to overthrow the government in Kabul.

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