As NATO leaders prepare to endorse President Barack Obama’s strategy for exiting Afghanistan at the organization's summit in Chicago, most Afghans are concerned that the international coalition is leaving the future of their country in the hands of security forces that won’t be able to fend off the Taliban.
Abdul Rahman Shaheed, a parliamentarian and former police officer, is one Afghan with deep reservations about NATO’s plan to fully withdraw troops by 2014 beginning next year. He is especially worried about the current state of the Afghan national army and police:
“Right now, these security forces do not have any commitment to the sovereignty of the country and they are not fully professional.”
Shaheed also believes it is dangerous to hand over responsibility to indigenous forces next year because the Afghan government does not have any clear security strategy for the country.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, only 42 percent of operations are now Afghan-led. Of the 156 Afghan army battalions only 13 are classified as “independent with advisers” and only 74 as “effective with advisers.”
Other Afghans expressed concern about regional interference from countries like Iran and Pakistan, who have a long history of meddling in Afghan affairs. For one, it is no secret that insurgents have found safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
The Taliban have launched several audacious attacks over the past month since the Spring fighting season began, and recently assassinated a leading peace envoy.
President Obama met with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai Sunday, but the Americans left Pakistan out in the cold. Obama snubbed President Zardari because Islamabad refuses to open NATO supply routes that run through his country into Afghanistan.
Afghans will be watching the next international conference even more closely which takes place in July in Tokyo, where donors are expected to determine how much financial assistance the country will receive after 2014. Presently, over 90% of Afghanistan’s GDP is driven by foreign aid and the war economy.