Dunford lists obstacles to Afghanistan stability
WASHINGTON (PAN): A top American general based in Kabul on Tuesday said Afghanistan's stability was threatened by militant safe havens in Pakistan and corruption and weak institutional capability of the Afghan government.
“Insurgency’s sanctuaries in Pakistan, the limited institutional capacity of the Afghan government and endemic corruption remain the greatest impediments to long-term stability and sustainable security in Afghanistan,” General Joseph Dunford, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told US lawmakers.
Testifying before the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee on the current situation in Afghanistan, Dunford said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would continue to work with the Afghan government to address Afghanistan's challenges in order to deliver effective governance to its people.
Dunford said even as Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) was developing its capabilities, but it would require support from the US and the international community in foreseeable future.
However, he called the worst worried the continuation of safe havens inside Pakistan. “Despite this degradation, safe havens in Afghanistan and sanctuaries in Pakistan continue to provide Taliban senior leadership some freedom of movement and freedom of action, facilitating the training of fighters, and the planning of operations,” he said.
“The Afghan Taliban and all its sub-groups, including the Haqqani Network, remain capable of conducting high profile attacks, though counterterrorism pressure has degraded this ability,” he said.
However, the Taliban remain firm in their conviction that ISAF’s drawdown and perceived ANSF weakness, especially when supplemented with continued external support and with sanctuary in Pakistan that the Taliban exploit, will translate into a restoration of their pre-surge military capabilities and influence, he added.
Dunford said the majority of ISAF bases have been transferred to the ANSF or closed, and construction is complete on the majority of ANSF bases. “The US will redeploy 34,000 troops by February 2014, and the ANSF have grown to nearly 352,000 personnel. Afghanistan’s populated areas are increasingly secure, and the ANSF have successfully maintained security gains in areas that have already been transitioned,” he said.
“Still, the ANSF will continue to need training, advising, and key combat support from ISAF, including close air support, logistics, and intelligence, through the end of the ISAF combat mission in December 2014,” he told the lawmakers.
In his remarks Senator James M Inhofe alleged President Barack Obama was making a mistake by deciding on troop levels without defining the underlying objectives, strategy, and mission. “This is backwards,” he said.
“Strategy drives troop requirements; not the other way around. Decisions on objectives should depend on our objectives. Without some continuing level of US and international support, civil war and fragmentation are likely to engulf Afghanistan and destabilise the region providing a breeding ground for extremism and threatening the security of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons,” he said.
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