Afghan security transition to start in seven areas | Pakistan Today

Afghan security transition to start in seven areas

KABUL – Afghanistan’s leader announced on Tuesday seven areas would be included in the first phase of a gradual transition of security from NATO troops to Afghan forces in July, including volatile cities in the south and north. The announcement was the first tentative step in a long process that will end with the withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, a process agreed by US and NATO leaders last year. “Transition is the right of the Afghan people and, therefore, we should stand on this right and we want this transition to happen,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a graduation ceremony for Afghan military officers on a base at Kabul airport. “We want to end this bloody war, we have to take this country towards peace by any means,” he said.
Including areas from the four points of the compass and embracing most of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic makeup, the first phase of the transition is more symbolism than substance. “This represents the next stage of Afghanistan’s journey, not the destination. And every step of the way will be determined by conditions on the ground,” NATO Secretary – General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement congratulating Karzai. But the handover will still be a crucial early test of the readiness of Afghan forces, which face a knot of recruitment, training and battlefield challenges despite a big push by US and other Western nations in recent years.
“It is a good start because ultimately Afghans need to start taking responsibility but the announcement was pretty much as expected,” Kabul-based political analyst Haroun Mir told Reuters. “Afghan security forces should be on the front line so they will be forced to perform,” he said. The transition was agreed last year, when the war had reached its bloodiest phase since the Taliban were overthrown by US-backed Afghan forces in 2001, and European leaders in particular were under pressure from a war-weary public.

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