End of War?

Southasia - - Briefing -

Acer­e­mony was held in cen­tral Bamyan province of Afghanistan last month to mark the start of a se­cu­rity tran­si­tion from NATO to Afghan forces. The han­dover from New Zealand forces to Afghan po­lice was the first step in a years-long na­tional tran­si­tion that aims to put Afghan po­lice and army in con­trol across the coun­try by the end of 2014.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in his much-awaited speech in June an­nounced a phased with­drawal of nearly 10,000 Amer­i­can troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Lay­ing out the be­gin­ning of the U.S. draw­down in Afghanistan, he an­nounced that 33,000 U.S. troops will be pulled out by the au­tumn of 2012 while five thou­sand troops will be moved out im­me­di­ately, with an­other 5,000 leav­ing at the end of 2011. The 33,000 troops be­ing with­drawn were part of the surge that Obama an­nounced in his 2009 speech at West Point.

Ini­tial re­ac­tion was var­ied, with out­go­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates sup­port­ing Obama’s de­ci­sion while con­gres­sional lead­ers di­vided be­tween those who wanted a faster with­drawal and oth­ers call­ing for cau­tion in leav­ing Afghanistan.

The trans­fers took place in the shadow of as­sas­si­na­tion of two of Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai’s close aides – his half-brother Ah­mad Wali Karzai and MP Jan Mo­ham­mad Khan by the Tal­iban. Mean­while, Gen­eral David Pe­traeus stepped down from his post as the top U.S. com­man­der in Afghanistan, call­ing U.S. to ‘work on trou­bled re­la­tions with Pak­istan.’

In the wake of the killings, Pak­istan’s Pres­i­dent also met Pres­i­dent Karzai in Kabul and re­it­er­ated that the two coun­tries would con­tinue the on­go­ing fight against ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism till the restora­tion of re­gional peace. ◆

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