Friday, 5 October 2012

Taliban Will Face a Very Strong Afghan Force in 2014: NATO

Undeterred by the recent spurt in insiders attacks in Afghanistan, NATO has said Taliban will miscalculate the situation if they think their situation will be better by the end of 2014, because they will be faced with a very strong and capable Afghan security force.

"They will not be in a stronger position. When we (will) stop our combat mission, a very capable Afghan security force will take over. We are building up the number of Afghan security forces and by 2014, we will have 352,000 Afghan forces. And more importantly, quality-wise they will be very capable," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

In an interview to popular Charlie Rose show of PBS News, Rasmussen said he was very "impressed" by seeing Afghan forces in action during his last visit to the country.

Asserting that NATO's security transition in Afghanistan remains on track and there is no change in its strategy, Rasmussen said NATO has outlined a clear roadmap for a gradual handover of responsibility to the Afghan security forces.

"We have 50 countries in our ISAF coalition -- 28 NATO allies and 22 partners -- and we have agreed on a roadmap according to which we will gradually hand over lead responsibility to the Afghans," he said.

He stressed that the attacks will not derail its strategy in Afghanistan, but termed them as matter of "great concern."

"People ask, and legitimately so, why is it that we send trainers to help the Afghans and they turn their weapons against the very same trainers? These insider attacks threaten to undermine trust and confidence between foreign troops and Afghan security forces," he said.

NATO commanders on the ground have introduced some temporary measures to prevent the attacks under which NATO forces will not conduct joint operations with Afghan security forces, Rasmussen said.

"But these are prudent and temporary and I would expect these joint operations to be resumed as soon as the situation allows. And the timetable is still realistic, despite these temporary measures," he said, adding that he expects joint operations to be resumed as soon as the situation allows.

"The fact is that we continue partnered operations at the level of battalions and above. So basically, we continue the strategy to train and educate Afghan security forces. There's no change of strategy," he said.

On Pakistan, he said relationship with Islamabad is a bit problematic due to unresolved issue regarding stepping up fight against terrorist in border region of the country.

"The border region is really a big challenge. Whenever we engage with the Pakistani government and military, we encourage them to step up fight against terrorists and extremists in the region. It remains an unsolved problem," Rasmussen said.

He, however, pressed for a strong partnership with Pakistan find a solution to these border issues.

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