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AFGHANISTAN MUST NOT BE ISOLATED

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By Dilawar Sherzai

The ongoing scenario in Afghanistan is really very significant. At this critical juncture it is necessary that the international community must not leave the country alone. Above all, it is necessary that the basic issues in Afghanistan’s political and social lives must not be left undecided. It is a fact that the foreign allies cannot keep on supporting the country for indefinite period of time; however, it would not be wise to leave the issues unresolved after spending billions of dollars and sacrificing hundreds of lives.

One of the most important issues at the ongoing scenario is the withdrawal of US troops from the Afghan war. US President, Obama, is under great political and public pressure to speed up the withdrawal process as the sentiments are turning against the war.

The fear is that the withdrawal process would be carried on speedier than it was decided. There are indications that troops may withdraw even before the deadline of 2014. Some of the current incidents in Afghanistan have also raised questions about the presence of US troops in Afghanistan and have also changed the opinion of people of Afghanistan against the US troops’ presence. The most important factor is to note how careful and tactful the US would be in the decision of troops’ withdrawal.

Though US President, Obama, seems to be in the favor of speedier troops’ withdrawal; however, US military leadership in Afghanistan seems to be in the favor of a careful withdrawal. US top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, according to a recent news report, has emphasized that a considerable number of troops would be required to carry on the Afghan war in 2013.

He has insisted that at least 68,000 troops should be present to combat insurgency in 2013. Commenting about the number of troops and schedule in two days of congressional testimony, he commented, “My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013.” Answering to Sen. John McCain’s question whether he is mentioning the number to be 68,000, he said, “Sixty-eight thousand is a good going-in number, sir, but I owe the president some analysis on that.”

In fact, he believes that there should not be further withdrawal after the 23,000 surge forces leave Afghanistan by the end of September. It is important that the voice of military leadership that is practically carrying on the war must be listened to carefully before the strategies are designed.

The US government must make sure that they make most of their decisions in accordance to the objective conditions. Transferring responsibilities to Afghan government and security forces is a correct decision but it may get inappropriate if the process is made hasty. It is not important for Obama administration to make rigid promises and follow them strictly; the important thing is to have a conclusive and appropriate conclusion to the war in Afghanistan.

It is also important to see other members of international community involved in Afghanistan committed to resolving the issues in Afghanistan and being the part of the game as long as required. However, it has been noticed that other major players, most importantly European countries, also seem to be in a haste to withdraw their troops.

The French government has already announced an earlier withdrawal; the British government also seems to be under pressure and cannot keep its commitment of conditional withdrawal unaffected. Moreover, the international political strategies and inclinations are also changing, making the world powers divert their attentions elsewhere.

Though there has been emphasis from international community to help Afghanistan through strategic agreements, the threats of insecurity at the present are so serious that they may nullify the importance of those agreements. Therefore, at the present it is necessary that the issue of security and the rise of terrorist networks must be kept in strict check in the region.

At crucial times in the contemporary socio-political scenario, it is nice to see the United Nations remaining committed to the issues in Afghanistan. The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of United Nations Mission in Afghanistan for one more year before the country is able to shoulder the responsibilities of security, governance and development after the transition is completed. The resolution, that will be functional till 23rd March 2013, has extended the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s (UNAMA’s) assistance for the Afghan government’s so-called National Priority Program that includes the security, governance, justice and economic and social development projects.

UN Security Council has made a commitment that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General will within their mandate and guided by the principle of reinforcing Afghan sovereignty, leadership and ownership, continue to lead and coordinate the international civilian efforts, in accordance with the London and Kabul Conference Communiqués and the Bonn Conference Conclusions. It is really important that the efforts through the UN should be kept continue with great assurance so that the future of peace and tranquility must be guaranteed and a healthy transition must take place.

Though the Special Representative of Secretary-General, Jan Kubiš,  had said, “The transition so far has been on track and on target and the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) have proven that they are up to the task,” the concerns about the capability of Afghan forces to bear the responsibility of debilitating security conditions are very much real and they have to be assessed properly. The most important thing, today, is not to leave Afghan security issues secluded as the dangers of rebirth of terrorism are very much genuine.

Isolating Afghanistan at current point in time would mean inviting the rebirth of terrorism and militancy. The optimism being shown both by Afghan authorities and some of the US officials regarding the Afghan issues are not in accordance to the objective conditions.

It is good to be hopeful, but no optimism based on misunderstanding can be appreciated. Therefore, it is necessary for international community, especially US authorities to comprehend the scenario in Afghanistan appropriately, listen to the demands of time, Afghan authorities, opposition parties, minority groups and military leadership; moreover, the continuation of the international support through UN should also be kept intact or even enhanced so as to make the transition process very much favorable for all the Afghans, the region and ultimately for the world.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This article first appeared in the Daily Outlook Afghanistan.

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