Obama’s timeline draws mixed reaction from Afghans
KABUL (Pajhwok): A large number of residents interviewed in various provinces on Thursday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by 2016, but others wanted Afghan forces should continue to be trained and assisted by their foreign counterparts.
Obama on Tuesday said he planned a gradual drawdown of troops that would leave about 9800 troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year, cut that in half by the end of 2015 and remove most remaining troops by the end of 2016.
Political expert and a former Nangarhar University teacher, Mohammad Anwar Sultani told Pajhwok Afghan News the stay of American troops was in the interest of Afghan forces, who he said needed professional training.
“The security responsibility has already been transferred to the Afghan forces, it will be better if the Americans continue training and advising them,” Sultani said, believing the presence of American troops would be more effective if the Afghan forces were equipped with sophisticated weaponry.
Shah Jehan, a resident of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, said American troops should completely withdraw from Afghanistan, saying the move would help bring down the level of violence.
A shop owner in the city, Aimal Khan, said the Afghan forces had now strengthened and no longer needed cooperation from the American counterparts.
He said the withdrawal of foreign troops was in Afghanistan’s interest because the insurgents would reduce their attacks.
In southern Helmand province, a public representative, Ghayasuddin, said the US should pull out its troops from Afghanistan gradually, fearing a sudden drawdown could push the war-torn country into a new civil war.
In southeastern Paktia province, a tribal elder in the Syed Karam district, Haji Nazaruddin, said he did not believe the stay of American troops would have any positive result.
He said what they learned in the past 12 years was that the presence of foreign troops could not end the conflict. He said the Americans had their own interests and had no concern for Afghanistan.
A resident of the provincial capital, Gardez, Azad Khan, said the people were previously very concerned that the US would leave Afghanistan alone after this year, but it did not happen and the US had decided to stay.
He said the rumours about 2014 had a deep negative impact on the Afghans because the speculations affected businesses. Khan said the US should continue assisting Afghanistan in diverse fields.
Another resident of Garez, Nasrullah, said the extended US troops’ stay would not help end the conflict, suggesting Washington should instead talk to Pakistan.
In southern Ghazni City, resident Rahmatullah said he welcomed President Obama’s decision that the American troops were leaving Afghanistan. He believed the war in Afghanistan would continue no matter foreign troops leave or stay.
Another resident Saifullah said if the US wanted to end the war in Afghanistan, it should prevent Pakistani attacks.
He said the conflict in Afghanistan would intensify with the withdrawal of foreign troops because it would give a free hand to Pakistani intelligence agencies.
However, resident Asadullah said the US troops’ pullout would leave the Taliban with no excuses to continue their insurgency. He welcomed Obama’s decision that he would pull out all troops by 2016.
In northern Kunduz province, resident Mehrabuddin, said the US had failed to honour its words that it would remain committed to fighting the Taliban and other terrorists.
He said there had been much of violence during the presence of American troops in Afghanistan and their withdrawal or stay had no benefit for the Afghans.
However, another Kunduz resident Syed Ali said the US should not abandon Afghanistan after withdrawing its troops.
He said Afghanistan needed American troops because the local forces were yet to stand on their feet and were in dire need to be further trained and equipped.
In northern Balkh province, Ahmad Farid, a student of political science at the Balkh University, said Obama’s decision showed the American mission in Afghanistan had not been accomplished.
He said achievements in the reconstruction sector made over the past decade were recognisable to some degree, but there had been little improvment on the political front.
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