Alliance set for new Afghanistan role after 2014 pullout

Alliance set for new Afghanistan role after 2014 pullout

Alliance set for new Afghanistan role after 2014 pullout

A protester marches in Chicago during a NATO summit demonstration. AP photo

NATO leaders focused yesterday on logistical aspects of ending the Afghan war, a day after they reiterated their commitment to the withdrawal plan, with President Hamid Karzai vowing his country would no longer be a “burden” for the international community.

“The irreversible transition of full security responsibility from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is on track for completion by the end of 2014, as agreed at our Lisbon Summit,” a Chicago summit declaration said.

Training, advice, assistance

The roadmap envisages the shift of the ISAF from focusing primarily on combat, increasingly to the provision of training, advice and assistance to the ANSF. In this process, the ISAF will be able to ensure that the Afghans have the support they need as they adjust to their new increased responsibility.

NATO forces will gradually and responsibly be drawn to complete the ISAF mission by Dec. 31, 2014.

“By the end of 2014, when the Afghan authorities have full security responsibility, the NATO-led combat mission will end. We will, however, continue to provide strong and long-term political and practical support through our enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” the NATO statement stated.

Special emphasis on Pakistan

It also said NATO was ready to work towards establishing, at the request of Afghanistan, a new post-2014 mission of a different nature, to train, advise and assist the ANSF, including the Afghan Special Operations Forces. However, this will not be a combat mission.

The summit also puts special emphasis on Pakistan, which is seen as a key actor in solving the deadlock in its neighboring country. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s attendance at the summit had raised hopes that his government was ready to lift a blockade on NATO convoys, but talks on reopening the routes have stumbled over Islamabad’s demand to charge steep fees for trucks crossing the border.

“We also recognize that security and stability in the ‘Heart of Asia’ is interlinked across the region … The countries in the region, particularly Pakistan, have important roles in ensuring enduring peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and in facilitating the completion of the transition process,” the NATO statement said. Karzai also said his country no longer wanted to be a “burden,” urging the international community to complete a security transition to his Afghan forces.

“Afghanistan ... is looking forward to an end to this war and a transformational decade in which Afghanistan will be working further for institution building and the development of sound governance in the country,” he said.