Afghans must command foreign troops: state newspaper

ASD123344.jpgKABUL (Reuters) – To defeat Taliban militants, foreign troops led by NATO and the U.S. military in Afghanistan should come under the command of the Afghan government, otherwise the war will drag on, a government-owned newspaper said on Tuesday.

More than 71,000 foreign troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan fighting Taliban militants who have made a come back in the past two years, the bloodiest period since the militants’ removal from power in 2001.

The lack of a unified command amongst the troops and failure to coordinate operations with the government has been a factor in the escalation of violence and the rebirth of the insurgents, the English-language Kabul Times newspaper said.

“If a united command is established and led by Afghan authorities, very soon we will win the war. Afghanistan is the land of the Afghans,” the Kabul Times said in an editorial.

“They know better how to protect their country, how to provide a safe atmosphere in their homeland … how to treat the friends and how to deal with the enemy,” it said.

State newspapers in Afghanistan closely follow the government’s views and it is likely that the Kabul Times was airing the opinion of some people in the administration.

“Without close coordination and an Afghan command, the conflict will last long,” it said.

U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001 after it refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders responsible for September 11 attacks on the United States which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Ley al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are still at large and some 15,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan since 2006, according to figures of the United Nations and Afghan officials.

Foreign military commanders say the troops are in Afghanistan for the long haul and will withdraw once the Afghan government manages to stand on its own feet.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ouster, has repeatedly complained about the lack of coordination of operations with foreign forces against the militants which he says leads to civilian deaths.

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