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Karzai: Afghan Youth Must Lead After US Troops Leave

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C), with his vice presidents and some key cabinet members, gives a speech regarding the U.S. plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, in Kabul June 23, 2011

Many Afghans welcomed the announcement that U.S. troops will begin to leave their country but there is also widespread anxiety about how it will be done.

Local reaction

At the presidential palace in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai responded positively to the announcement to the withdrawal of 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

Karzai said it is now up to the youth of Afghanistan to take over the responsibility for security in the country.

On the streets of Kabul some young men such as Ahmed Mustafa also said the decision is good because it clarifies where the country is headed.

“From one side it is very good for Afghan people because Afghans will know about their future," he said. "Americans if they go from Afghanistan so the people will know their selves, they will try best to make their armies more secure.”

A Taliban spokesman responded by saying the American pronouncement is misleading the Afghan people and that the withdrawal is purely symbolic. The spokesman said the Taliban will continue to insist that they will not talk to the Afghan government until all foreign troops are gone.

Political solution

In his address, President Barack Obama said that there is a need for a political solution in Afghanistan that will include negotiations with Taliban who renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution.

Former Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Rustam Shah says both sides need to be more flexible. He says the Taliban need to accept that foreign troops are not going to leave unilaterally. But he also said that President Obama’s precondition that the Taliban accept the Afghan constitution is also a stumbling block.

“He made this condition that the talks so far are open to those who would abide by Afghanistan constitution. That, of course, the militants have rejected a long time ago because they contend that they do not recognize the Afghan constitution because this constitution, in their view, has come into existence when the country was under occupation. So I think that a lot of hard work requires to be done. This is just a very small beginning but a welcome beginning,” stated Shah.

Possible deterioration

There are concerns in some parts of Afghanistan that if foreign troops leave before the Afghan forces are fully capable of taking their place, they may lose ground against the Taliban.

Mirwais Adebyar in Kabul says that he does not want a complete pullout of the foreign troops at this moment.

He says he is hoping instead for a gradual withdrawal that waits until Afghanistan’s security forces and economy are stronger.

The Afghan security forces face a key test of their capability next month, when NATO troops begin the official handover process in some areas of Afghanistan.