Dec. 5 - Western allies of Afghanistan meeting in Germany pledged to stay the course after troops withdraw in 2014. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai attending an international conference on Afghanistan in Germany said that his country will need help from the international community for at least another ten years in order to rebuild stability. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying (English): "The Afghan people do not wish to remain a burden on the generosity of the international community for a single day longer than absolutely necessary, but to make our success certain and our progress irreversible we will need your steadfast support for at least another decade," Pakistan boycotted the conference after NATO aircraft killed 24 of its soldiers on the border with Afghanistan in a Nov. 26 attack the alliance called a "tragic" accident. Western forces have scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to stay the course. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying (English): "And the United States is prepared to stand with the Afghan people for the long haul to support this transition to sustainable stability and growth and we recognize that the Afghans themselves, as the President has said, have commitments that they must meet, taking difficult decisions to embrace reform, lead in their own defense and strengthen an inclusive democracy routed in the rule of law." A similar pledge for Afghanistan came from UK Foreign Secretary William Hague UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, saying (English): "The United Kingdom will play its part over the coming years, the end of a combat role for British forces in Afghanistan by 2015 will not mark the end of our support to Afghanistan or to the Afghan National Security forces, or the importance we attach to wider security in the region. We have to be frank that there is unlikely to be a perfect situation in Afghanistan in 2014, that it will still be one of the poorest countries in the world, that it is likely to face many security challenges. We have to help it create a sustainable future." Despite tactical successes in the south, even Western military officials say Afghanistan cannot be won by fighting alone - it also requires effective diplomacy and a viable plan to put Afghanistan on its feet economically. Yet the impact of the West's aid effort - Congress has provided nearly $73 billion since 2002 - is another question mark beyond some important achievements in education and child health. The U.S. strategy now rests on two objectives: building a local army capable of fending off militants, and brokering a peace deal with the Taliban. Analysts say both are ambitious goals. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.