Wardak becomes a model for transition: Dunford
WASHINGTON (PAN): The security transition in the central Maidan Wardak province has now become a model for transition in other parts of the country, US top commander in Kabul, Gen. Joseph Dunford, told US Senators on Tuesday.
“In honesty what I told President Karzai when that (transition in one district of Wardak province) was over, frankly that turned out to be a model for transition,” Dunford told members of Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
Dunford was responding to questions from Senators on the transition. The American General told lawmakers that when Karzai asked him to remove Special Forces from Wardak, it started from a strained relationship.
“In February, President Karzai had directed that all US Special Forces be removed from the province. That was as a result of allegations that proved to be unsubstantiated. At the time President Karzai gave us that direction, I let the president know that that would be unacceptable both from a force protection perspective and from our ability to accomplish our objectives,” he said.
“He afforded us the opportunity to work with the Minster of Defense and Minister of Interior, and come up with a transition for the Wardak province. Since that time we have removed US Special Forces from one district inside of that province -- there are nine districts in the province. We removed Special Forces from one of those districts and we replaced them with effective Afghan security forces,” Dunford said.
“We had broad guidance from President Karzai. We were able to work with the minister of defense and minister of interior to transition. It's exactly what's happening across the rest of the country. We are in a process of transitioning from provinces, and so this particular incident worked out. From my perspective, we have an effective solution,” the US general said.
“I might just note that President Karzai made a statement that got huge publicity, but when the resolution was achieved by you and the Afghans it got very little publicity. I'm afraid that's too typical of what the media situation is here,” Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in his remarks.
Responding to questions, Dunford said over the past two months he and Karzai have worked through very difficult issues. “We have come in each case to an effective solution. So the relationship I've had on the ground over the last two months has been cooperative,” he said.
When Senator Jeanne Shaheen asked about the allegations by Karzai that Pakistan is trying to undermine the peace process, Dunford said: “I don't know if there's any credibility to President Karzai's statements about Pakistan undermining the peace process with the Taliban.”
But he noted that Karzai’s comment reflects the deep mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I think they merely highlight the very deep mistrust that currently exists and has historically existed between Pakistan and Afghanistan. I think that's what we have to do is, in our efforts to bring -- especially in a military-to-military perspective -- is if we can bring that relationship together in a constructive way and establish a foundation of trust,” he said.
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