Helmand security was better in 2006: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai said he felt southern Helmand province had been more peaceful before the arrival of British and US troops in 2006, but did not blame the international forces for the security problems.
Ahead of a summit with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari in London, Karzai in an interview with the Guardian and ITN said Afghans were not concerned about whether the west believed their mission had failed and just wanted to rebuild their country after three decades of unrest.
"Whatever happened was the past and now we are looking forward," said Karzai, who is expected to use the trilateral summit to press Pakistan to release more Taliban prisoners, including a former second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to encourage a peace deal.
Karzai, who dined last night with Asif Ali Zardari at Chequers before talks, said that security was better in Helmand before the arrival of British troops and questioned whether international forces had been fighting in the right part of the country for the past 10 years.
He also said he was not sure if western forces were pulling out because they had realised the mission was a mistake, or if they believed they had successfully broken up the country's terrorist groups.
"They feel fulfilled with regard to the objective of fighting terrorism and weakening Al Qaeda, or they feel that they were fighting in the wrong place in the first place, so they should discontinue doing that and leave."
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