(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Australia has cast the first stone in the withdrawal process from Afghanistan. Prime Minister Julia Gillard's conviction that her troops should be back home much before the 2013 deadline set by Canberra is a welcome development.
The NATO and the United States, who have been dispensing security services in the war-torn country now for almost for a decade, are on edges and seem to have lost heart. That is why the self-proclaimed deadline of 2014 has been seen shifting like sand, as many of the 50 nations contributing some 130,000 troops, are eager to see an early withdrawal. The only issue that concerns them is that they don't want to abandon the assignment in the lurch and take a bad name for the country slipping into complete anarchy. Though the security situation is unsatisfactory and nothing has changed for good in the war-weary zone, it has come a long way in terms of achievements in the fields of building a national army, a local police force and strengthening of public institutions. It has not been able to attain political stability and prosper economically because of fundamental errors in judgment.
The fact that the minority had been tasked to sideline the majority Pakhtoon is one of the major ills of the entire process. Coupled with it is the presence of coalition forces that have subdued initiatives of nation building. Afghans who have proudly fought the British and the Soviet in their history cannot be expected to negotiate a deal with the US and NATO, and that too at the cost of their sovereignty.
The NATO conference on Afghanistan in Chicago next month offers an opportunity for the world leaders to not only revisit their terms of engagement in Southwest Asia, but also relist their priorities. But one thing should be sure as a common denominator: i.e., an early is indispensable. Brussels and Washington should stop worrying about socio-political fallout on the Afghan landscape once they depart, as it has already been in shambles despite their presence. A genuine representative system and a security shield that is manned by the Afghans themselves could make the difference. The US and the West should take a leaf from Gillard's preferences and pull back their troops at the earliest. There is no point in experimenting in failures.