KABUL : A former Afghan lawmaker and district governor said Thursday he had defected to the Taliban as the Islamist hardliners seek to strengthen their influence before US-led combat troops withdraw next year. Government officials confirmed that Qazi Abdul Hai had joined the rebels, but dismissed him as a low-level figure whose actions would have little impact. “I am sure the Americans will be forced out soon and the Islamic Emirate will rule Afghanistan,” Hai said, using the formal name of the Taliban, in a video released on the group’s website.