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Avoiding Civilian Casualties Key to Defeating the Taliban

 

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari briefed the senior leadership of the 525 Battlefield Surveillance Brigade at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on January 12, 2010. Expected to deploy to the south and east of Afghanistan soon, Haidari discussed a number of key issues with the command officers of the Brigade to help them prepare better for effective military operations in coordination with the Afghan national security forces. He noted that of deep concern to the government of Afghanistan was the challenge of avoiding civilian casualties often caused by the Taliban fighters who attack Afghan and NATO forces from areas populated by civilians.

“We appreciate and welcome the stress by the NATO Commander General McChrystal on protecting and securing the civilian population, since each civilian killed will strategically benefit our enemy,” Haidari said. He assured the U.S. forces of Afghans’ full support for international military presence in Afghanistan, quoting the recent ABC and BBC poll indicating that 68% of the Afghan people strongly support U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “At the start of the year, Afghans are upbeat and optimistic about their future with your support, as now 70% of our people believe that Afghanistan is headed in the right direction,” he added.

Moreover, Haidari noted that one of the key reasons why popular support remained so high for international presence in Afghanistan was that the Afghan people had once been brutally ruled by the Taliban whose return to power is widely rejected across the country. “Long before the tragedy of 9/11 terrorist attacks, our people had been terrorized and victimized by the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists who could never be accepted to replace the freedom and democracy that our people continue to demand,” he added. Haidari said that the Afghan government had welcomed the new U.S. strategy with a focus on increased military and civilian assistance to Afghanistan. “As we talk, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been visiting Afghanistan to help us begin revitalizing the agriculture sector, which will create the jobs and livelihoods we need to stabilize Afghanistan sooner,” Haidari said.

Moreover, Haidari noted that President Karzai enjoys very high popular approval rating at 70%, according to the recent ABC and BBC poll. “This shows that the people of Afghanistan support their President and government to succeed in partnership with the international community and, thus, the prospects for significant progress in our continued efforts to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan are quite high this year and the years to come” he added.

Haidari concluded by thanking the deploying forces and their families for their contributions, and wished the forces well in serving their country and helping secure Afghanistan.

 

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