NATO fears Taliban’s return to power in AfghanistanJuly 21st, 2010 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, July 21 (IANS/EFE) NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen cautioned Wednesday that the Taliban could return to power in Afghanistan if the international forces leave the country before time.
“We cannot leave Afghanistan prematurely before we have finished our job, the Taliban would easily return… Afghanistan could again serve as a launching-pad of terrorist attacks,” Rasmussen said here in a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The secretary-general reminded that the objective is that the Afghan security forces should assume the responsibility of military operations in the country by 2014, but he stressed that the transition would depend more on the conditions in Afghanistan than on any calendar.
“We have to make sure that conditions are set for the transition. We stay committed until we are sure of stability. We won’t leave a vacuum. NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term,” Rasmussen stated.
Similarly, the head of the multilateral organisation supported the process of reconciliation with the moderate Taliban elements, given that they are willing to give up violence and respect the Afghan constitution and democracy.
Rasmussen stated that Pakistan can also play an important role in this strategy promoted by the Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Regarding this, Qureshi said that Islamabad was not looking for a role, rather the Afghan government should itself decide how Pakistan can help in this process.
“Pakistan is not looking for a role. It should be an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process. They have to determine if they want us to have a role,” he affirmed.
The secretary-general visited Pakistan Wednesday after participating in the Kabul Conference with Qureshi Tuesday, where delegations from some 70 countries and international organisations agreed to give more control to the Afghan government in the processing of the funds assigned to the country and supported its peace plan with the Taliban.
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