Afghanistan’s gains stay reversible: Levin
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The gains made by Afghanistan have been impressive, but are reversible, a top American senator said on Wednesday, stressing the need for unity among Afghans.
Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Afghanistan faced immense challenges, from Taliban, corruption, poverty, ethnic and political tensions.
In his address at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), the influential lawmaker acknowledged the progress that the country had made was also immense.
Levin warned the unconstructive focus of the press could have a negative effect on Afghanistan’s future. “That’s because while Afghanistan’s gains have been impressive, they remain reversible.”
Afghans continued to fear the United States would abandon them, as they believed the Americans had done after the Soviets left that country in the early 1990s.
The Afghans assumed responsibility for their security and political affairs, but they continued to depend on international funding, training, and institution-building, in particular for sustaining the army and police, he noted.
The economic life of the country was far more vibrant than it was under the Taliban, but it would take years for the Afghans to develop a sustainable economy with substantial assistance, he explained.
If the public continued to believe that Afghanistan was a lost cause it might become a self-fulfilling prophecy, the senator said. “Simply put, if we don’t understand what we and our partners have gained in Afghanistan, we risk losing it.”
Levin added: “We have accomplished much along with our Afghan and coalition allies in bringing more security and stability to that country and preventing it from once again serving as a safe haven for terrorists...”
He linked the American public’s failure to understand the gains made to the constant, almost totally negative, portrayal of the events in Afghanistan in the American press.
“The press understandably reports on negative events. A Taliban truck bomb in Kabul does make a more dramatic story than a million girls going to school,” the legislator remarked.
“But it would be tragic if this negative focus deprived the American people, our men and women in uniform, and their families of the sense of accomplishment they deserve to feel about our effort in Afghanistan,” Levin concluded.
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