U.S. hard-pressed to convince NATO to enhance troop deployment in Afghanistan

February 8th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by admin  

Pervez Musharraf
Washington, Feb.8 (ANI): The United States is facing resistance from its NATO allies on the need for enhancing foreign troop deployment in Afghanistan to fight Islamic militants in Afghanistan.
According to a Voice of America (VOA) report and recent studies undertaken by the Atlantic Council, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and the International Crisis Group, the international community needs to commit more resources to Afghanistan and agree on a coherent strategy to make Afghanistan strong enough to stand on its own.
The VOA quoted International Security Program at the Atlantic Council Director, James Townsend as saying that the burden of ensuring greater engagement of the international community in Afghanistan lies with NATO.
“NATO has got to be committed for the long term in terms of providing for that security,” he added.
The prodding from Washington notwithstanding, several NATO countries have reportedly balked at the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan and taking a more direct combat role.
They cite domestic political compulsions as the major factor in not complying to this fresh U.S. demand.
Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, says the United States convinced European nations to commit troops to Afghanistan under the assumption that they would be only engaged in peacekeeping, not counterinsurgency.
“It was an inaccurate message for the reason that the U.S. assumed that the fighting part of the battle was ended with the departure of the Taliban. It did not recognize that it needed to have a much larger footprint, if you will, that enabled the Afghan government to reach all parts of the country with services in a secure environment,” he said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Europe Thursday he was disappointed over the response of some NATO members.
Pakistani and Afghan Taliban Islamist militia, as well as al-Qaida fighters, have set up bases in Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas along the border, where they have sympathy among the local populace. From these sanctuaries they launch attacks on U.S. and NATO forces. They also control swathes of territory in Afghanistan itself, and have even launched suicide attacks in the capital Kabul.
Pakistan has not been as vigorous in cleaning out Islamic militants’ sanctuaries along the border as Washington would like. President Pervez Musharraf has insisted he is committed to fighting terrorism, and called on the international community to tone down its criticism.
Larry Goodson, a professor of international security studies at the U.S. Army War College, expects there will be more Pakistan government attempts to strike peace deals with the Taliban, while going after the foreign fighters of al-Qaida, after the February 18 parliamentary elections. (ANI)

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