Afghan President Hamid Karzai says NATO and the US should stop their operations in the war-torn country. This comes just days after Karzai’s cousin and nine children were killed while collecting firewood in two separate US attacks.
“I request that NATO and America should stop these operations on our soil,” Hamid Karzai said during an emotional speech on Saturday in the eastern city of Asadabad in Kunar Province. The speech came after visiting the relatives of civilians killed in a raid by the international forces.
The spokesman for the Afghan president later clarified that Hamid Karzai meant that civilian deaths should be ended in Afghanistan.
The UN says that almost 200 civilians were killed by NATO in Afghanistan last year alone. But US military leaders defend their operations by claiming thousands of insurgents have been killed or captured during the time they have been there.
John Rees, an activist from the UK-based Stop the War Coalition, believes there is no military solution to the Afghan situation.
“The solution lies in the hands of the Afghan people,” claims Rees.
He believes that when NATO troops do withdraw, Afghanistan will be somehow able to stand against the Taliban alone and find its own way to democracy.
“It is often the case that countries do sometimes go through brutal periods of internal conflicts before they arrive at democratic system.”
Rees points to how the US, itself, went through the War of Independence and the Civil War before it found “any form of genuine democratic representation, with all the flaws that it has now”.
“So I really do not think it’s within the limit of the Western powers to deny other countries the same paths towards democratic and representative institutions. They certainly can’t be imposed from the outside,” said Rees.
However, he noted that in the meantime there was an announcement from Washington that the US is looking for an open-ended time scale for staying in Afghanistan, and thus is not going to withdraw its troops just because of Karzai’s statement.
“But I think there will become a point when it is absolutely intolerable even for a regime that had been put in place and is sustained by the Americans,” said Rees.
Watch full interview with John Rees