Pakistan against hasty pullout from Afghanistan

Islamabad, December 31: Pakistan said Thursday that the US-led international forces should not leave war-torn Afghanistan until the country was strong enough to take care of itself.

“As a matter of fact what we say is that a hasty withdrawal would not be desirable,” the country’s foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a press briefing in Islamabad.

“Afghanistan should be able to look after itself effectively before the coalition forces leave,” he said.

US President Barack Obama announcing the new Afghan policy Dec 1 set an 18-month time frame to start withdrawing its almost 100,000 troops from Afghanistan.

Islamabad is concerned that a timetable to exit from Afghanistan would not help stabilize the region as the militants might just wait for the withdrawal of international troops and easily topple the Kabul government afterwards.

The spokesman also expressed fears about more incursions into its tribal badlands from Afghanistan after the planned deployment of additional 30,000 US troops.

“Regarding the surge there are some concerns and we are in discussion with the US on that,” Basit said.

Hundreds of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants crossed into Pakistan after the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, where later on they re-grouped and began crossborder attacks on the coalition forces.

The Pakistan Army launched a massive military operation in mid-October against militants in South Waziristan, one of the seven tribal districts and a known hotbed of the Taliban. US appreciated the offensive but urged more actions against militants moving into Afghanistan to fight its troops.