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News and Views

Staying the course in Afghanistan

By M. Ashraf Haidari 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Sept. 11 op-ed, "Remembering 9/11 on the battlefield," was a timely reminder that victory in Afghanistan is within our collective reach. Some 2,000 NATO troops and thousands of Afghan soldiers, police and civilians have given their lives to secure the future of Afghanistan against extremism and terrorism.

The costs of premature withdrawal from Afghanistan are far greater than the costs of staying the course until Afghans can stand on their own. But for the counterinsurgency to succeed, the Pakistani military establishment must be persuaded to end its institutional tolerance of and active support for extremism, e.g., the Taliban.

The terrorist and criminal groups affiliated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, not Afghan villagers, are fueling the insurgency. Not until Afghanistan is no longer vulnerable to state-sponsored terrorism that flagrantly violates the U.N. charter will there be permanent peace in Afghanistan and stability throughout the region.

What gives me hope for victory are the Afghan people, more than 70 percent of whom are younger than 25. In urban and rural Afghanistan alike, they have begun standing on their own. They deserve a chance to move beyond the past three decades of imposed conflicts on our nation, with the continued engagement of the United States and NATO.

The writer is deputy chief of mission and political counselor at the Embassy of Afghanistan.


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