End of War?
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 The 33,000 troops being withdrawn were part of the surge that Obama announced in his 2009 speech at West Point.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. ◆