British lawmakers warn on NATO's Afghan strategy

2nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

NATO's military surge in Afghanistan risks undermining the chances of political reconciliation, British lawmakers said Wednesday, urging Washington to more fully engage in talks with the Taliban.

The House of Commons foreign affairs committee said military pressure alone was not enough to bring security and stability to Afghanistan, where Britain has the second largest deployment of troops after the United States.

"There is a danger that without appropriate political leadership, the current military campaign is in danger of inadvertently de-railing efforts to secure a political solution to what is essentially a political problem," said committee chairman Richard Ottaway.

He added: "We question the fundamental assumption that success in Afghanistan can be 'bought' through a strategy of 'clear, hold and build'."

The committee's report expresses concern that efforts to create the conditions to transfer control of security to Afghan forces "have resulted in an escalation of the counter-insurgency campaign, which has had a negative effect on Afghan civilians and prospects for political reconciliation".

The lawmakers said the predominance of the belief that negotiations could not begin until the insurgency had been defeated militarily was a "matter for considerable concern".

It said: "Given that the pre-requisites for a successful military campaign are currently lacking, we conclude that the US should not delay its significant involvement in talks with the Taliban leadership because, without the US' support in this respect, there can be no longer-term peace in Afghanistan."

It urged the British government to use its influence to persuade Washington to engage more fully and swiftly in political reconciliation.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that only a political solution will end the war in Afghanistan, arguing: "We will never kill enough insurgents to end this war outright."

The report was published as Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Britain.

He was due Wednesday to visit a rehabilitation centre for British soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

© 2011 AFP

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