The newly elected French President, Francois Hollande, reached to Kabul on Friday, May 25, on a surprise visit. Francois Hollande, during his election campaign and after his election as a president, has remained committed to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan till the end of the ongoing year. He even emphasized the same in NATO Summit in Chicago last weekend.
Though he was criticized for making a unanimous decision to withdraw his troops as the NATO had earlier decided to withdraw forces till 2014, he remained unmoved. His decision will definitely have an important effect on the transition and has already raised concerns regarding the vacuum that may be generated after the withdrawal of almost 3,400 troops.
Even though Hollande has promised and the leaders of other countries (including President Hamid Karzai) have also suggested that France can support Afghanistan in different other ways, the decision's overall impact cannot be undone. It has even questioned the capability of NATO to coerce its decisions on its members. To put it in better words, it can be said that it is not even coercing decisions. The NATO members had earlier promised that they would withdraw their troops till the end of 2014, so following the schedule means fulfillment of the promises.
Francois Hollande, in a joint conference with the President Hamid Karzai, said that his visit to Kabul was for two main purposes; to visit some of the French troops that will be pulled out during the ongoing year and to assess the security transition process. Following the same, he also visited French troops at the base in Kapisa province.
Commenting on his decision of earlier withdrawal, he said that cooperation with Afghanistan will not end rather its focus would be diverted to civilian fronts. He also mentioned that the mission of fighting terrorism and chasing out the Taliban was close to being accomplished. He said, "This is something we can be proud of." He also ensured that his country would not halt to cooperate with Afghanistan in various sectors, including supporting the ministries of interior and defense in training Afghan forces.
"We want to work with Afghanistan in a different way," he added.
Whatever may be the indications by the involved parties, it is undisputable that the weariness about the war in Afghanistan is increasing with each passing day. The most can be seen within the attitude of decision makers and troops of international community engaged in Afghanistan.
Most of them believe that earlier withdrawal would help their countries extract themselves out of the situation in Afghanistan, which would be a better approach for pacifying the growing anti-involvement public opinion and better future of Afghanistan; however, it is not sure whether such an objective would be achieved. But does it really matter for them?
They say "Yes" and they try to show that they will remain committed to supporting Afghanistan in so many ways but the irony is that their priorities are suggesting otherwise. At the same time, it should also be mentioned that the most Afghanistan needs today is related to its security; once its security is guaranteed, international community can support it in many other ways.
Keeping in mind the history and socio-political scenario in Afghanistan, one can conclude that the current relative stability has been earned after a lot of hard work. So, it must be cared for and all the indications of worsening of situation in the country must be dealt with, seriously. In the ongoing transition period there are indications of the worsening situation which must be considered as harbinger of decisive changes in near future and appropriate measures must be carried out to guide them towards better destinations.
Currently, the security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating and the example of current assaults in different parts of the country; their magnitude and impacts, leaves no doubt about it. Even the capital Kabul is not safe and terrorists can target even the safest of the areas with the greatest comfort. Insecurity has been one of the major problems Afghanistan has been facing for the last few decades and if there are numerous other problems in the country most of them can be associated with this basic problem.
It should be noted that urgency shown by involved countries in Afghanistan is also because of the impacts of international economic crisis and some recent incidents that resulted in the death of foreign troops by their Afghan counterparts or their juniors. Moreover, there have been certain incidents that have also shown a growing frustration in foreign troops fighting in Afghanistan.
In fact, the overall Afghan war is becoming very much notorious and the involved countries want to get out of it so as to remain undisturbed by its ugliness; but without keeping in mind that the future may make them more notorious if the result of the war turns out to be uglier.
On the other hand, US that has been leading the war, seems to finalize the so-called "End Game" in Afghanistan. It has been striving to reach to certain conclusions before withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan completely. However, it should be noted that a certain level of haste has been displayed by US in this regard. It confirmed the withdrawal of international troops in Chicago Summit yet no reconciliation and certainty about the post transition Afghanistan are to be seen.
It has also showed optimism about the state of affairs in Afghanistan and the training of Afghan security forces. However, too much optimism in this regard is not justified at all and the current incidents will support the argument. The need of the time is to see the situation as it stands; to analyze the scenario objectively and to call a spade a spade.
The unilateral withdrawal schedules can never help the war against terrorism and may have severe consequences on the Afghan security situation. US and NATO must develop coordination with the involved countries and must reach to unanimous decision but at the same time it is important that the withdrawal process should be made careful and should be able to compensate for the challenges of the objective conditions. Carelessness in this regard may not help the situation in Afghanistan and the world, at all.