Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 23rd, 2018

The Unwanted US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

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The Unwanted US Withdrawal  from Afghanistan

Frustration of the United States due to the unwinnable war in Afghanistan is clearly evident from the speech of US defence secretary, Robert Gates, in Brussels in which he threatened to leave the NATO alliance as its member states are not willing to provide sufficient fund and troops for Afghanistan. US Defence Secretary criticised NATO for what he said were shortages of military spending and political will. The recent restrictions of European governments placed on their military participation in the Afghan war put Washington on ordeal.

Mr. Gates warned that the United States was exhausted by a decade of war and its own mounting budget deficits and simply might not see NATO as worth supporting any longer. US Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus has always been in hurdle about the troop's rapid exit, and was last year heard to describe that the July 2011 will be the milestone. Before the NATO's Libyan operation, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen had already warned about shrinking military expenditures to Europeans at a security conference.

The day to day increasing successful attacks of the Taliban insurgents compelled the US President to prefer to immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Last Monday, in White House meeting, President Obama proposed immediate withdrawal and the focus of Defence Minister Mr. Gates meeting with the Afghan authorities was the same issue. Gates made no secret of his frustration in Afghanistan. Military experts understated that the main reason behind the US frustration might be the return of civil war, extremist Taliban or the inability of the Afghan forces to maintain stability after the NATO and US immediate withdrawal from the country.

US new Defence Secretary says that if his country lost Afghanistan, it will become another safe haven for Al-Qaeda and their militant allies, but Vice President Joe Biden wants a large pull-out, perhaps taking out all 30,000 of the troops sent in over the last 18 months. Obama Government is spending a lot in Afghanistan and majority of US citizens are demanding the withdrawal of 100,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan, which is being conducted under NATO auspices, is a prime example of U.S. frustration at European inability to provide the required resources. Afghan President Hamid Karzai also showed much frustration while meeting Pakistani leaders in Islamabad last week. The reasons of his frustration were clear and understandable. In Karzai's view, the possibilities of ethnic cleansing or the return of the Taliban may again destabilise his country.

The issues of ethnic violence, sectarianism, regionalism and regional political influence have never been touched during the last ten years of NATO presence in Afghanistan. President Karzai discussed the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in a friendly mood in Islamabad and thanked Pakistan for its long term hospitality to the Afghan refugees.
"Afghans will never forget the generous hospitality of their Pakistani brethren," Karzai said. The main focus of his visit was to seek Pakistan's co-operation in bringing Taliban to negotiation table, which has been the basic objective of Afghan government and its Allies for the future settlements in Afghanistan. The issue of security transition was more important. Karzai told his Pakistani friends that the recent terror attacks carried out by the Taliban in Northern Afghanistan are much irksome for him.

In Karzai's view, if his administration cannot maintain peace in northern parts of the country, how they would be able to control the troubled South? Violence in Northern provinces still needs government attention. The number of Afghan National Army (ANA) currently stands at around 170,000 troops while the number of warlords' private militia is 135,000. There are two competing rogue armies in the country. Immediately, after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, the country will become the battle ground of these two armies.
Warlords do not accept the instruction and command of the ANA and do not help the state in maintaining stability in the country. Both these state army and private rogue armies have been involved in violence in recent past.

The recent report of the US Inspector General for Afghanistan is more alarming. According to his report, one-fourth recruits of the ANA are absent from duty in any given time. They do not want to inform their seniors. This high rate of desertion will be one of the biggest challenges faced by the ANA after the US and NATO withdrawal from the country. Friendly relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan are often shrouded in distrust and mutual recriminations over the violence plaguing both the states.

But, Pakistan understands that without peace and stability in Afghanistan, terror incidents cannot be controlled in Pakistan. "We are fighting our own war; we support the people and the government of Afghanistan. We support them we cannot expect peace in the region without peace in Afghanistan," President Zardari said. Karzai said the relationship between the "twin" countries had improved.

The US-led international forces immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan was long awaited by other neighbouring countries. President Zardari recently visited Russian and China and received Moscow's appreciation of the role his country is playing in Afghanistan. Russia deployed over 3000 troops on Tajikistan border with Afghanistan. Russia fears that the US withdrawal will lead to civil war in the country or extremist fighters moving into the Central Asian region. Pakistan's time tested friend, China has also commended Pakistan's record in combating terrorism.

The quick or immediate withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan has developed a perception among Afghans that US again leave Afghans maroon. A recent study in the United Stats has warned that faster withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will cause economic collapse, as there is no proper revenue generation in the country. Afghans can suffer a severe economic depression unless proper planning begins.

The writer is the executive editor of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and the author of Britain’s National Security Challenges and Punjabi Taliban. He can be reached at zai.musakhan222@gmail.com

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