KABUL - The Non-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Friday voiced its support for an Afghan-led peace campaign, saying an effort headed by foreigners would not deliver the results expected by the people of Afghanistan. "Frankly, a peace process led by foreigners, whoever they might be, would simply not deliver the sort of peace which Afghanistan needs, it has to be Afghan to Afghan," the NATO senior civilian representative said.
In an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Ambassador Simon Gass noted the principles set out by the Karzai administration, including respect for the constitution, women's rights and renouncing ties to Al Qaeda.
But the British diplomat added they had to test the insurgents' seriousness about viable peace negotiations. The drive must have the necessary safeguards so that all communities could feel confident that their rights would be respected in whatever deal might be eventually reached.
He ruled out any compromise on the values that Afghans and their international partners have been fighting for over the past decade in areas like democracy, rights of women and education.
The ongoing reintegration program enabled Afghan insurgents, including commanders, to come off the battlefield, he said. " We need to continue with this, we need to make clear to Taliban that there is a root for them, off the battlefield, back to reintegrate with their communities and to play their part in the future of Afghanistan.
About the tension over President Karzai's consistent demand for a stop to night raids, the ambassador said one should not be astonished over disagreements amongst friends. He called for finding solutions that satisfied the Afghan government and allowed a continuation of the campaign.
"You know, there will be bumps on the road and there will be more ahead of them; there were more in the past, the key point is that we need to keep an eye on the road itself and the destination which we're heading for -- a stable and peaceful Afghanistan which can live in prosperity and that is what we're trying to achieve."
The ongoing security transition process, which would continue until the end of 2014, was a major success in 2011, Gass believed, calling the switch an important step in terms of Afghanistan exerting its sovereignty.
Additionally, he added, the military campaign went pretty well in Afghanistan last year, when local security forces became increasingly capable and the insurgents weakened in many parts of the country.
Nonetheless, he acknowledged the need for more work to deal with the insurgency in eastern Afghanistan. "We will be taking measures over the next 12 months or so to address that particular problem. So I think we can look back on 2011 with a certain amount of satisfaction..."
Asked about NATO's key priorities for the current year, the envoy replied continuing with the transition process and maintaining the military campaign at a high momentum would be among the alliance's important plans.
The upcoming Chicago summit would define in clearer terms the relationship between NATO and Afghanistan beyond 2014, the diplomat believed. "I hope we will be able to achieve greater clarity on, for example, what the Afghan government would like NATO to do in Afghanistan after transition is finished...
"I think it will also address issues like how the international community will help to financially support the Afghan security forces in the next few years, that's not simply a NATO responsibility, that's a responsibility for the whole international community but I hope at Chicago we will get some clarity on these questions."
In the build-up to the summit, the global fraternity should continue with transition and the training of Afghan security forces, the NATO civilian representative suggested. Gass also underlined continued assistance to Afghanistan in the areas of the economy and governance.