Afghans have to defend country: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai, welcoming US President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would pull 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan over the next two years, on Thursday said it would be up to Afghans to defend their country.
"Afghans have the experience of a three decade-long war. The sons of the soil will defend the country," Karzai told a meeting at his palace.
The president said the troop drawdown was in the best interest of Afghanistan. But he emphasized that the drawdown would be gradual, and that only 10,000 troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of this year.
With the implementation of the troop drawdown plan, Karzai said, the role of foreign troops would change into a supporting one instead of their direct engagement in the conflict.
"I congratulate Afghan forces for assuming security responsibility on their own," Karzai said, urging the international community to continue assisting this war-torn nation.
He said Afghans were thankful to Americans for their assistance in helping rebuild Afghanistan.
He said relations between Afghanistan and the international community would serve each country’s mutual interests.
“The security transition plan indicates the capacity of Afghan forces has improved. People in different parts of the country say their trust on Afghan National Army and police has increased,” Karzai said.
In a Wednesday evening speech, US President Barack Obama announced a plan to withdraw 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan over the next two years and completely hand over security to Afghan forces by 2014.
“Starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer,” Obama said.
“After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead... By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security,” he said.
The US currently 90,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan, making up the bulk of the 132,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).