Nato touts gains in Afghanistan amid turmoil, 70th anniversary

Published April 4, 2019
KABUL: Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (right) walks with Nicholas Kay, Nato’s senior civilian representative in the country (left), to mark the military alliance’s 70th anniversary at the Resolute Support headquarters on Wednesday.—AFP
KABUL: Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (right) walks with Nicholas Kay, Nato’s senior civilian representative in the country (left), to mark the military alliance’s 70th anniversary at the Resolute Support headquarters on Wednesday.—AFP

KABUL: Top Nato officials in Afghanistan on Wednesday heralded key gains from more than 17 years of war, even as the United States seeks to end the grinding conflict that President Donald Trump this week called “ridiculous”.

Despite hundreds of thousands of troops from Nato having served in Afghanistan since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, last year was the bloodiest on record and the Taliban have made gains across the country.

The Islamist extremists now control more Afghan territory than any time since they were ousted in the US-led invasion of 2001, and once again are imposing their strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Trump is fed up with the war, which has killed more than 2,300 American troops and cost the US taxpayer more than $1 trillion. The Afghanistan war is “unfortunate, it’s ridiculous”, Trump said on Tuesday in Washington.

In December, he told advisers he wanted to pull about half of America’s 14,000 troops out of Afghanistan, a decision apparently made without consulting Nato allies.

But in a ceremony marking at Nato’s 70th anniversary at their intensely fortified compound in Kabul on Wednesday, dignitaries sought to put a positive spin on things.

Afghanistan “is a modern and vibrant emerging democracy”, said Nicholas Kay, Nato’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan. “We all salute the improvements in women’s rights, for millions of children and notably girls enrolled in schools, the free press and notable advancements in health care,” he added.

Kay was joined by Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and Nato’s Afghanistan commander General Scott Miller, who championed the alliance’s enduring “cohesion”. “We all remain committed to this nation,” he said.

Trump, however, has frequently hammered Nato — accusing longstanding allies of being freeloaders who do not pull their weight on military spending.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has embraced Trump’s tough-love approach and credited him with a big increase in member state defence spending.

Kay insisted Nato is determined to stay in Afghanistan to protect hard-won gains for Afghans. “We will remain here to assist Afghans until the conditions are right for a change in our posture,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan challenge
Updated 15 Jul, 2024

Afghan challenge

Foreign states must emphasise to the Afghan Taliban diplomatic recognition and trade relations all depend on greater counterterrorism efforts.
‘Complete’ justice
15 Jul, 2024

‘Complete’ justice

NOW that the matter of PTI’s reserved seats stands resolved, there are several equally pressing issues pertaining...
Drug fog
15 Jul, 2024

Drug fog

THE country has an old drug problem. While the menace has raged across divides of class and gender, successive ...
Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...