US warned against stepping up disengagement
WASHINGTON (PAN): Impressed by the progress of Afghan security forces, a US think-tank on Friday cautioned the Obama administration against accelerating disengagement from the country prior to 2014.
In a 16-page report, the Washington-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) also urged the United States and Afghanistan to “clarify and solidify” their commitment to an enduring partnership as soon as possible.
“This would reduce incentives for hedging behaviour in Afghanistan and Pakistan and contribute to a constructive atmosphere for the campaigns leading up to the crucial April 2014 Afghan presidential election,” it said.
The report is co-authored by former US commander in Afghanistan Gen. (R) John Allen, ex-Pentagon Undersecretary for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Brookings senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon.
According to the document, the United States can still achieve its strategic objectives in Afghanistan if it maintains and adequately resources its current policy course – and if Afghan partners in particular do their part.
“The core reasons for this judgment are the impressive progress of the Afghan security forces and the significant strides made in areas such as agriculture, health and education, combined with the promising pool of human capital that is increasingly influential within the country...” it added.
However, the United States and other international security and development partners would risk snatching defeat from the jaws of something that could still resemble victory if, due to frustration with President Hamid Karzai or domestic budgetary pressures, they were to accelerate disengagement between now and 2014 and under-resource their commitment to Afghanistan after 2014.
Afghanistan needed to understand its role in the process, too, for the international support on which it depended would surely be contingent on a reasonable level of electoral integrity and political progress, the authors explained.
“Pakistan has an important role to play as well, in its willingness to pressure the Taliban sanctuaries still allowed to exist on its soil – though Islamabad’s present activities, however regrettable in some ways, may not in themselves be enough to derail the mission,” it concluded.
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