News / Asia

Afghan President Announces NATO Pullout Areas

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 22, 2011
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 22, 2011
Ayaz Gul

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has announced seven areas across the country where local forces will take charge of  security from NATO-led forces starting in July. The move lays the groundwork for the eventual withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  But critics remain skeptical about the preparedness of Afghan police and soldiers to take security control.

Mr. Karzai announced the first phase of the security transition Tuesday, while addressing senior army and police officers at the National Military Academy in Kabul.

Beginning in July, Mr. Karzai says security responsibility in Panjshir, Bamiyan and Kabul provinces will be transferred to the Afghan forces. However, NATO and U.S. forces will remain in the Sarobi district of Kabul province. The restive Afghan district is close to areas where Taliban insurgents frequently carry out attacks and  is also located along a main road to the border with Pakistan.

In addition, President Karzai says provincial capitals Herat, Lashkar Gah, Mazar-e-Sharif and Mehterlam will be placed under Afghan security control.

The president told the gathering that the Afghan nation does not want the defense of this country to be in the hands of others anymore, saying it is our responsibility to raise the Afghan flag with honor and dignity.

U.S and NATO forces have been training Afghan police and troops to enable them to take security responsibility of the entire country by 2014. A smooth and successful transition is vital for the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

But critics remain skeptical about the ability and motivation of the Afghan forces, citing among other challenges - corruption, a lack of equipment and, most of all, a growing Taliban insurgency. Analysts say that the areas President Karzai has chosen in the first phase are relatively secure and peaceful and it could be an attempt to test the abilities of local forces.
Sameena Ahmed is the regional director for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

She says it will also be important to see how the militant groups in Afghanistan and their allies in neighboring Pakistan interpret the transition plan.

"I think one has to be cautious about the signaling-how will it be read by the Afghan Taliban insurgents that are operating out of Pakistani bases but also their Pakistani militant allies. Will they too see this as perhaps a weakening of the U.S resolve to stay in the fight in Afghanistan? So it is going to be absolutely essential to make sure that with the support of the foreign forces the Afghan security forces that take this lead are able to then secure these areas," she said.

A Taliban spokesman has termed President Karzai's speech merely symbolic, saying the country remains occupied by thousands of foreign forces. He said only time will tell whether Afghan forces can secure the transition areas.

During Tuesday's speech in Kabul, the Afghan president called for the Taliban to join his government's peace process to bring stability to the war-torn country.

Mr. Karzai also criticized U.S and NATO-led forces, saying civilian deaths caused by coalition operations, night raids, and irresponsible arrests have bolstered the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Civilian deaths in anti-insurgency operations have become a source of friction between President Karzai and the NATO forces stationed in the country. But Afghan observers say the president's criticism is politically motivated and is meant to deflect condemnation of his own incompetence as well as inability to check corruption.

Ajmal Samadi is the director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Rights Monitor. "He has to demonstrate commitment to protection of Afghan people regardless of his political agenda. So when Taliban is killing people systematically and deliberately, we want President Karzai to condemn these incidents as strongly as he condemns NATO. And also the crimes that pro-government militias are committing in different parts of the country where it is raping people whether it is other kinds of problems that militias are inflicting on people President Karzai must also condemn and stop those acts of violence," Samadi said.

The Afghan human rights activist says that civilian deaths are not helping warring parties in Afghanistan. Samadi believes the future of the conflict depends on who is doing more to protect civilians.

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to start withdrawing American troops in July if ground conditions allow. More than 1,500 U.S soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the war started nine years ago and the annual cost of the U.S military campaign is more than $100 billion.

In a recently conducted survey by Washington Post/ABC news, two-thirds of Americans believe it is not worth continuing the war in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More