The Forgotten War
President Hamid Karzai
The forgotten war is back on the screen. Its rising death toll has
rudely awakened the world. On Tuesday a blast killed NATO soldier on
patrol in southern Afghanistan. An official statement said that it
occurred in Nahri Sarraj, a district of Helmand province.
The fighting between Taliban-led militants and NATO Security Forces
is surging across the south and east of Afghanistan. Tuesday’s death
brought the number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this month
Iraq took away the focus from Afghanistan. The world is taking a
closer look again. The two wars have left the Forces “stretched beyond
the capabilities we have,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said.
It is the first time the most senior officer in the British military
has expressed such grave doubts about the struggle faced by troops
fighting wars on two fronts. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup of UK
said that fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan wars have stretched the
forces beyond their capacities.
Some of the NATO countries involved in this exercise have spoken
rather harshly of the situation there. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister
Maxime Bernier publicly had called for the Afghan government to fire the
governor of Kandahar, the province to which 2,500 Canadian Armed Forces
(CAF) troops are deployed.
He had to withdraw his comments later stating that he had never
intended to impinge on Afghanistan’s right as a sovereign nation to
choose its own government personnel.
NATO soldiers get out of thier vehicle in Arghandab on June 25.
Arghandab is a Kandahar southern province freed from Taliban by
Afghan military forces with help of NATO. US-led air strikes
killed 22 Taliban militants who attacked two towns in
Afghanistan with rockets on Wednesday, while two more
international soldiers died in explosions. AFP
Afghans deserve a bigger share of the public square. They had
suffered immense hardships during the past five years. The NATO
countries in this conflict are struggling to focus on what needs to be
The tough stand taken by Canadian Minister Bernier is getting the
full respect it deserves. NATO partners are demanding greater
accountability by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. They have stated that
he should work in concert in order to get achieve some progress.
Kandahar is a bone of contention. Its governor has been under fire.
According to media reports, Canadian officials had been privately
pressing the Afghan government to Kandahar governed better.
Karzai is in a bind. If he stays wit the status quo he would seem
oblivious to the criticism that had been made. But if he makes a change
it will be obvious to Afghans where the real power lies.
Canada’s role in Afghanistan is considered crucial. It has a large
force deployed to Kandahar, the historic center of the Taliban where the
Karzai government faces opposition.
The CAF has sent 15 officers to various departments of the Afghan
government, including the president’s office, to serve as advisors.
Karzai cannot afford to lose that help.
Most critics agree that greater democratization is an urgent need.
The Canadian government is trying hard to achieve such a move.
Conservative Prime Minster Stephen Harper has championed Canada’s
leading role in cleaning up things there.
The recent statement of Prime Minister Harper is very clear: “We have
talked to the government of Afghanistan from time to time about concerns
on the performance of that government and we will continue to talk to
them from time to time.”
Is Canada competing with the US for a greater share of influence in
that region ? Canada may be getting away from the notion that the role
it plays in the Afghan war is not as a peace keeper but a key partner
sharing the burden of success with all others in the NATO.
Several media outlets had toyed with the idea that Canada was now a
fully pledged partner in the global war on terror.
This is a portrayal of the Canadian armed forces as a fighting force,
a modern and fully capable tool in its diplomatic efforts.
The opinion inside the United States also favours a faster answer to
the problems there. Some of the Republicans had criticized Senator
Barrack Obama who was the chair of a senate committee on Afghanistan for
not holding any hearings under his stewardship.
International observers seem to think that NATO Armed Forces are
fighting to prevent the country falling back under the theocratic
dictatorship of the Taliban. The attack on 9/11 precipitated this war.
If not for that event the US and British troops would not been sent
The Taliban endorsed al-Qaeda’s war on the West. NATO is now saddled
with a major war on their hands. Those who have sent troops there are
hedging their actions with so many restrictions that they cannot
discharge any role effectively. That reluctance is key to the present
impasse seriously jeopardizing the whole Afghan operation.
The British, we are told have to do far more than their fair share of
fighting as a consequence of it, and it is becoming increasingly clear
that the strains are having a destructive effect, according to most
Over 10,000 British troops are over-worked and may be not be 100 per
cent combat ready according to critics. The latest reports indicate that
NATO leaders are likely to approve an increase in troop deployments to
Afghanistan, the head of the military alliance said Wednesday. NATO has
maintained that the war in Afghanistan is being prosecuted according to
General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said recently that NATO is close to
having the number of troops it needs for Afghanistan, where 47,000
foreign troops take part in the NATO-led mission.
The US President had repeated calls to NATO members to send more
troops. He was citing a recent recording from al Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden that threatens attacks on Europe, Bush said the war in Afghanistan
must be won.
Some feel that U.S. and NATO forces are battling a resurgent Taliban
in Afghanistan nearly seven years after al Qaeda’s 2001 terrorist
attacks on US soil, Though 25 NATO allies and 13 other countries have
contributed forces, the bulk of the recent fighting has been done by
U.S., Canadian, British and Dutch troops.
The internal NATO disagreements also center on risk-sharing, with
some countries contributing troops but keeping them out of the tough
fighting in southern Afghanistan.