Tthe coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The US and NATO closed their combat command in Afghanistan on Monday, more than 13 years after invading the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks to target Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Though quickly routing the Taliban-led government that sheltered the militants, the US-led coalition soon found itself spending billions of dollars rebuilding a country devastated by almost 30 years of war while an insurgency grew as the invasion and occupation of Iraq quickly took America's attention.
As NATO's International Security Assistance Force's Joint Command, which was in charge of combat operations, lowered its flag Monday and formally ended its deployment, resurgent Taliban militants launched yet another bloody attack in the country. And with US President Barack Obama allowing American troops to go after both Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country into next year, the fighting likely won't be over anytime soon.
"I don't think the war will slow or stop during the winter, as attacks on cities are not contingent on the weather," Afghan political analyst Wahid Muzhdah said. "I believe attacks in the cities will increase — they attract media attention."
Monday's ceremony saw the NATO flag of the command folded and put away amid the foreign troop withdrawal. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. As of Dec. 1, there were some 13, 300 NATO troops in the country.
US Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of NATO and US forces, said foreign troops now will focus on training and supporting local Afghan forces, which have led the fight against the Taliban insurgents since mid-2013.
"The Afghan security forces are capable," Campbell told The Associated Press. "They have to make some changes in the leadership which they're doing, and they have to hold people accountable."
But as local troops stepped up, they now face record-high casualty figures that have risen 6.5 percent this year, to 4,634 killed in action, compared to 4,350 in 2013. By comparison, some 3,500 foreign forces, including at least 2,210 American soldiers, have been killed since the war began in 2001.
President Obama recently allowed American forces to launch operations against both Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, broadening the mission of the US forces that will remain in the country. They also will be permitted to provide combat and air support as necessary, while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also considers resuming controversial night raids that could see Americans take part.
Up to 10,800 US troops will remain in Afghanistan for the first three months of next year, 1,000 more than previously planned, said a NATO official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss troop deployments. As a result, there will be little, if any, net drop in U.S. troop numbers between now and Dec. 31, when the international combat mission formally ends.
By the end of 2015, however, American officials say the US troop total will shrink to 5,500, and to near zero by the end of 2016.
Ghani, elected to replace President Hamid Karzai, has embarked on a top-to-bottom overhaul of Afghanistan's military and the security apparatus. He has begun replacing provincial governors in volatile areas and his office said military leaders will be replaced. His National Security Council also is working on a manual that will set down for the first time in the post-Taliban era rules of engagement and battlefield practices for Afghan security forces.
Yet Obama's decision to allow American forces to remain behind in a more active role suggests the U.S. remains considered about the Afghan government's ability to fight. Chances of Ghani restarting peace talks with the Taliban also appear to slimming as he signed agreements with NATO and the US to allow the foreign troops to remain behind, a red line for the militants.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP that the group would continue to fight "until all foreign troops have left Afghanistan."
"The Americans want to extend their mission in Afghanistan, the motive being to keep the war going for as long as possible," Mujahid said. "And for as long as they do, the Taliban will continue their fight against the foreign and (Afghan) government forces."
A sudden uptick in attacks reflects a splintering of the insurgent group to marginalize leaders who had favored peace talks, said Muzhdah, the Afghan political analyst. In recent weeks, the insurgency has hit foreign targets including military, diplomatic and civilian installations. Four foreigners, including a British Embassy security guard and a South African charity worker and his two teenage children, have been killed in Kabul.
Afghan officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss own their intelligence analysis, say they believe Taliban attacks will only increase in December and January as the militants react to Ghani's embrace of a continued foreign military presence. They also blamed Pakistan's intelligence agencies for the upsurge in violence, even though relations between the two countries have thawed in recent months since Ghani's election.
Violence continued Monday in the country, as insurgents launched an assault on a police station in southern Kandahar province in the Taliban heartland. Five attackers died in the assault on the police headquarters in Maiwand district, including one who blew himself up during the attack, said Samim Akhplwak, the spokesman for the provincial governor. The attack killed one police officer and four civilians, while wounding seven people.
U.S. General Has Misgivings as Afghanistan Mission Ends
KABUL, Afghanistan — Shortly after the speeches concluded, the flags were folded and the band silenced, the last American general to lead combat operations in Afghanistan offered his candid assessment of the war.
"I don’t know if I’m pessimistic or optimistic,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the departing commander, considering the United States military’s reduced role next year. “The fact that we are in less places, the fact that there are less of us as a coalition, is obviously concerning.”
In an interview in his office after the lowering of the flag that signaled the official end of the coalition’s warfighting mission, General Anderson offered a nuanced take on the final year of America’s longest war.
The record casualties of Afghan forces are not sustainable, and neither are the astounding desertion rates, he said. Political meddling, not intelligence, drives military missions. The police and army do not work together.
It was a reflection on the mission that was in stark contrast to the unbridled renditions of success offered during the ceremony by commanders, including General Anderson, that seemed to defy the reality on the ground.
More than 5,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed this year, eclipsing previous years, and surpassing the entire coalition death toll since the invasion began in 2001. The deaths mount evenas many soldiers and police officers are reluctant to leave their bases, and the deadly attacks have continued into the cold months when fighting typically stops.
“It’s been a hell of a year,” General Anderson said. “Now everyone wants this to be in the rearview mirror and of course we still don’t have the right guys in the right places and that just causes people to not know what to do.”
Logistics remain deeply troubled, leaving boneyards of vehicles needing repair at bases across the country and stymieing efforts to project force into Talibancontrolled areas. A political impasse within the Afghan government has slowed the naming of cabinet ministers, paralyzing much of the government here, including the military and police bureaucracy.
Under the new mission, called Operation Resolute Support, the American military will largely advise the Afghan military at the highest levels. Though President Obama has authorized the use of combat forces to target leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban who pose a threat to remaining coalition troops, as well as the use of air support to aid troubled Afghan forces, the nature of the war will be starkly different for the 10,800 American soldiers in country next year.
While he outlined shortcomings, General Anderson, who has run the daytoday mission since February, also sounded notes of hope in the 45minute interview after the ceremony. On the tactical level, Afghan forces could beat the Taliban, if properly motivated, he said. The new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, was
committed to meritbased appointments. Tolerance for corruption, at least publicly, seems to have dropped.
Besides, he noted, America’s war here could not go on forever.
“The time has to come at some point and they have always proven the more you push them and force them to be more responsible they end up coming through,” he said of the coalition’s Afghan partners. “I believe they will be fine.”
But even positive assessments seemed dampened by reality.
“The good news is that the Taliban is just as challenged with strategy, leadership and resources, which causes them to be less effective as well,” he said. “The challenge will be now who best prepares this winter season, who best sets themselves up for success.”
Part of that setup will include naming a new minister of defense and minister of interior, who will oversee the army and the police. As it stands, both organizations are in limbo.
Once that is settled, General Anderson said, the two ministries need to figure out how to coordinate security efforts to combat a resurgent Taliban. Military officials often complain that the army is left doing the job of the police, who have enjoyed far less attention and money than the military.
“Right now they don’t have the forces and they don’t have the cooperation between the entities,” General Anderson said.
Casualty rates among Afghan police and soldiers have soared this year, but especially the police. Some Afghan police and government officials complain that the police are left on the front lines, facing the brunt of the violence, while the army remains on bases, protected.
But General Anderson offered another explanation:
The police were simply less observant of safety procedures.
“They are trained but nine times out of 10 they don’t wear their kit or follow proper procedures,” he said, referring to body armor and helmets. “That’s why they get wacked more.”
One of the biggest challenges that many coalition military commanders privately complain about is the political interference that Afghan forces must contend with. On several occasions, those officials said, missions have been launched at the behest of powerful Afghan officials.
To try and stem the spurious missions, General Anderson said the coalition flew surveillance missions to try to determine whether the claims of military need were genuine. In one week, he said, the coalition military spent 140 hours flying over areas allegedly controlled by the Taliban, scanning intersections and hilltops for activity.It found nothing, he said.
“You’re chasing your tail because of somebody telling you to go do this,” he said. “Of course, we wasted assets to confirm or deny, but it’s the only way we could stop the phone calls.”
Still, there is a genuine problem in troubled areas to get the Afghan forces to go out and pursue the Taliban. Rather than clear an area of insurgents and stick around to prevent their return, the more typical response is to clear an area and then leave.
“When they put on these offensives it achieves an effect for a very short time,” he said. “It’s a lot of lives for show, in some cases.” Soon, a knock sounded on General Anderson’s office door. His flight out of Afghanistan was ready.
Hagel Stumped By Soldier Asking if Afghanistan Will Fall Apart Like Iraq
Defense secretary Chuck Hagel was stumped by an Army staff sergeant who asked him for an assurance that the security situation in Afghanistan wouldn’t deteriorate after the withdrawal of American forces the way broad areas of Iraq succumbed to the Islamic State.
“In the end each country must take the responsibility for their own futures and for their own fate and for governing themselves,” Hagel replied.
The outgoing Pentagon chief insisted that Iraq and Afghanistan are “more different” than they are alike, although he noted some troubling similarities.
“But yes, some similar threats: terrorism,” he said. “Some of the same factors, some of the same organizations that wanted to do everything they can to destroy the United States as well as Western values and Western civilization. So there are common interests. There are common challenges. But how we work and cooperate with other countries is always — is always a little different. And I think that in this case that’s the case.”
Here’s the full exchange:
Questioner: Mr. Secretary, my name’s Staff Sergeant Harcourt . And I’m from the sergeant’s sister city in the great state of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pa. I . . .
Hagel: Do you guys get along? Do you talk?
Q: Never met until today.
Hagel: See how we bring people together here.
Q: I earned my master’s degree in history from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. And you mentioned in your talk about modernity and change and how that goes and changing — in a changing world, and how that matters. And from a historical perspective I was just curious. Given the deteriorated security situation in Iraq, how, if at all does that factor into our current foreign policy in deciding our withdrawal process here in Afghanistan, sir?
Hagel: Well, it’s a good question. It would be a question coming from a major of history like you that would be obvious. But let me try and respond this way because you already know an awful lot about history you have, I’m sure, an answer to your question.
But I think a couple of things need to be said in answer to your question. First, Iraq and Afghanistan are totally different situations. And you all understand that. Many of you served in Iraq.
So that’s where you start. There are some similarities, sure. Our role is different in Iraq as it is here. And Iraq has been an ally. We, as you all know and many of you serve there, invested our blood and our treasure there to help the Iraqi people.
But in the end it’s really much about the question of missions and objectives. In the end each country must take the responsibility for their own futures and for their own fate and for governing themselves.
We help allies all over the world different ways, different situations and different locations. And I think the Iraq-Afghanistan situation is one of those where it’s different. It’s totally different than — I think probably more different than similarities.
But yes, some similar threats: terrorism. Some of the same factors, some of the same organizations that wanted to do everything they can to destroy the United States as well as Western values and Western civilization.
So there are common interests. There are common challenges. But how we work and cooperate with other countries is always — is always a little different. And I think that in this case that’s the case.
Religious leaders view Afghanistan’s new president with suspicion
KABUL:- While Afghanistan’s new president struggles to contain a growing Taliban-led insurgency, he must also try to placate a religious establishment often deeply suspicious of his intentions.
Two months into his job, a number of deadly attacks have shown just how difficult it will be for Ashraf Ghani to bring an end to a war that has now lasted more than 13 years.
But if continued resistance from the Taliban was expected, scepticism from mainstream clerics is another sign that the withdrawal of most foreign troops will not stop demands for the government to adopt a more hardline interpretation of Islam.
Educated in the United States and a former World Bank technocrat who is married to a Lebanese-born Christian, Mr Ghani’s supporters regard his background as a source of hope in a country desperately in need of political and social reform.
Others view his upbringing and some of the events since he took office as proof of Afghanistan drifting from its roots.
For Mr Ghani to succeed in the long term, he will have to appease both camps. While cities such as Kabul are relatively liberal and open to outside influences, most of the country remains conservative and distrustful of interference from the central government. Imams and scholars continue to have huge sway over the population, offering advice on personal, social and political issues. Their views on the new president could ultimately have a crucial impact on the war.
Mullah Mohammed Jan is a cleric from the southern province of Helmand, where the Taliban control large areas of territory. Now a preacher on local radio, he told The National that blasphemous ideas were starting to have a greater influence on society.
“We have witnessed people talking against Islam in the media, during dialogue on human rights, women’s rights and other issues,” he said. “That has not only made us worry, it has made all the nation worry.”
Although still early into his first term, Mr Ghani has experienced the anger that can arise whenever sensitive religious subjects are debated. In October an English-language Afghan newspaper published an article that many people deemed blasphemous. Uproar and a government investigation ensued.
More controversy followed when Mr Ghani’s wife, Rula, gave an interview to the AFP news agency in which she was quoted as supporting a French law that bans women from wearing the niqab. The presidential palace subsequently claimed her comments had been misinterpreted.
Last week the Taliban attacked an NGO in Kabul, which it accused of conducting Christian missionary work. The assault only served to highlight the kind of suspicions held by some clerics.
Mr Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, began his presidency as a close ally of the West but became a bitter critic of the US in later years. Some religious conservatives disparaged him but his background as a member of the mujaheddin resistance that fought the Soviets in the 1980s gave him a degree of leeway.
“His family was well known in the country, he was educated by this nation and he stayed with this nation,” said Mr Jan, the cleric from Helmand.
Mr Ghani first ran for the presidency in 2009, when he came a distant fourth. In the intervening years he worked hard on improving his tribal and religious credentials. His appearance has altered, most notably with the growth of a beard, and he recently went on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Although he had support from several high-profile former mujaheddin in the 2014 election, others were openly hostile and questioned his religious credentials. Now that he is in a national unity government with his rival from the campaign, Abdullah Abdullah, accusations from senior political figures are still heard, albeit behind closed doors.
One source of concern is Mr Ghani’s first vice president, Abdul Rashid Dostum, a pro-government militia commander during the communist era who went on to play a key role in the civil war that followed. Islamists hate Mr Dostum and human-rights groups have accused him of involvement in the massacre of hundreds of Taliban prisoners during the 2001 US-led invasion.
Another critic is Qari Abdul Bari Ahmadi from Maidan Wardak province. A former imam, he stopped working at his mosque in Kabul after Afghan security forces raided it recently for suspected links to the insurgency. While the mosque remains open, Mr Ahmadi is now seeking work elsewhere. He said not even a pistol had been found among his possessions and he blamed the raid on the new president.
“These disrespectful acts against Islam will increase and one reason for this is that [Mr Ghani] is trying to show people he is a serious man who will search places that were not searched before,” he said.
“Another reason is that he is a man who has spent all his life outside the country so he does not [respect] holy places as much as others.”
One of Mr Ghani’s first acts in office was to approve the signing of two security agreements that will keep about 12,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan next year. A large majority in the lower house of parliament backed his decision.
The Taliban continue to demand an end to the occupation and only time will tell if they or the president will win over wavering Afghans eager for peace and the rule of law.
Mawlawi Saboor, an elder from the eastern province of Nangarhar, said the sacrifices Afghans had made for Islam in the past must not be ignored.
For the moment, he is willing to give Mr Ghani the benefit of the doubt.
“The government should understand our religious and cultural sensitivities, otherwise people will stand against it by any means,” he said.
Government forces outnumbered four-to-one by dozens of unaccountable militias.
An IWPR investigation has revealed that Ghor province in western Afghanistan is in the grip of around 40 warlords backed by thousands of paramilitaries.
The armed groups they lead are accused of murder, kidnapping, gang rape, theft and drug trafficking, all carried out with impunity. The numerous groups typically range in size from 200 to 1,200 men, giving a total somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000.
These violent groups are not part of the Taleban or associated insurgent groups, but leftovers from the civil war of the 1990s.
Security officials in the province say thousands of civilians have died at the hands of in recent years – 150 between January and November 2014. Civilians are often killed when they get caught up in clashes between different militias competing for control of a particular areas.
As well as extorting money from the local population, the warlords have instituted their own ad hoc systems of government which often entail brutal and arbitrary punishments.
The volatile situation illustrates the weakness of central government control in this remote province, where security has steadily deteriorated over the last eight years. Although estimates, officials in Ghor say the assortment of private armies operating there outnumbers national security forces by four-to-one.
With the help of Ghor residents and the security forces, IWPR has identified 40 militia commanders, who include some high-profile local politicians, and interviewed some of them.
One warlord, Fazel Ahad, has a retinue of 1,200 armed men in the Dulayna district, whom he supplies with weapons and ammunition bought from smugglers.
Ahad said that hostility between him and other local powerbrokers had turned him into an outlaw even by Ghor’s standards.
“I have lost many of my men since the day I took up a weapon,” he said. “But I have also killed my enemies.”
Ahad metes out arbitrary justice in the areas under his control. Punishments include public stonings and other forms of execution, floggings and amputations.
IWPR has seen a video clip of Ahad in which he is seen flogging both men and women in front of onlookers.
“I implement the commandments of sharia law,” he said. “If I hand culprits over to the state, the judges and attorneys will take bribes and release them.”
Mullah Mustafa, another commander who is based in Hesarak in the Shahrak district, boasted about the extrajudicial system he had established on his territory.
IWPR has seen a video clip which shows Mustafa, publicly executing a man in Hesarak last year. He is accused of killing another man by pouring boiling plastic on his head, and one woman reportedly had to have five fingers amputated after he shot her in the hand.
Asked about these acts and his justification for them, Mustafa replied, “I am a mullah and I know very well how to punish criminals.”
To fund his men’s salaries, Mustafa demands “zakat” (religious tax) from local civilians. He also deducts 1,000 afghani (17 US dollars) from the monthly salaries of teachers in the area under his control, and demands a fee from every vehicle passing through along the Ghor-Herat highway.
Mustafa, who has 1,000 armed followers, told IWPR he was unafraid of retaliation from either NATO-led troops or the Afghan National Army. He said he had twice been targeted by the American military and once by a drone strike.
“I am not scared of gunpowder or missiles,” he said.
Another warlord, Ata Mohammad, who controls the Dawlatyar district, has imposed his own system of “taxation”. IWPR has seen a copy of a decree, signed and stamped by the 60-year-old commander, which sets out the rules which residents must follow.
Anyone with a monthly income has to contribute five per cent to the commander, and any family wishing to marry off a son or daughter has to pay him 10,000 afghani (170 dollars).
Those who refuse to pay these fees are run out of the area by some of the 300 armed men in Mohammad’s employ.
SECURITY FORCES TOO THIN ON THE GROUND
Competing warlords are a legacy of Afghanistan’s recent history. Many of the mujahedin groups that fought the Soviet-backed government in the 1980s went on to battle one another during the civil war of the early 1990s.
The militias in Ghor survived United Nations-sponsored disarmament and reintegration processes after the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior security official in Ghor said some of the militias retained links with the political parties formed out of the old mujahedin factions, including Jamiat-e Islami, Hezb-e Islami and Etihad-e Islami. He also alleged that some received backing from the intelligence services of Afghanistan’s neighbours, presumably Iran or Pakistan.
The official confirmed that 40 commanders and 120 sub-commanders controlled at least 400 villages across Ghor.
Jawad Rezai, head of the provincial branch of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), said that its investigations, conducted over the last seven years, showed that as many as 200 militias made up of 9,000 armed men were operating across eight districts of the province.
He said the human rights commission had had documented crimes including mass killings, looting, rape and forced marriage. Three hundred civilians died in internecine warfare between rival militias in 2013 alone.
The paramilitaries force families to give up their daughters and often have three to seven wives, he said.
“When commanders see beautiful girls in villages, they take their hand and go to their fathers. They tell the father that they like his daughter and want to marry her,” Rezai said. “Of course, the girls’ fathers are helpless to do anything except agree to it.”
IWPR has copies of the AIHRC investigations into the Ghor militias.
Militia abuses have been periodically recorded by Afghan media. IWPR ran a story on paramilitary violence against women in 2011. ( Ghor Warlords Accused of Abusing Women)
Ghor police chief Ahmad Fahim Qaim acknowledged that his forces were unable to confront the thousands of armed men subjecting locals to a campaign of harassment. They were simply outnumbered, he explained.
“We cannot stand up to an 8,000-strong force with a police strength of 1,500,” he said.
Qaim said police had gathered detailed intelligence on the fighters, including information about the type of arms they held and where they were located.
The police chief said that he had repeatedly shared this intelligence with the interior ministry in Kabul, but had yet to receive any response.
According to Qaim, the militias support themselves through narcotics and arms trafficking, as well as by robbing travellers on the Kabul-Ghor highway.
“In collusion with these militants, smugglers transport weapons like Kalashnikov, RPGs and PK and DShK machine guns from Kandahar, Helmand and Farah up to Ghor and northern provinces like Faryab and Sar-e Pul,” he said.
The authorities have struggled to eradicate opium poppy cultivation in Ghor, and its role as a major transit route for heroin is at least as important – the province shares borders with eight others.
Qaim said that in the last year alone, police had seized 2,400 kilogrammes of opium from smugglers in Ghor in just three raids.
Like the police chief, Ghor governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati admitted that the national security forces were simply not strong enough to combat the militants.
He said the warlords controlled up to 10,000 fighters in the province, while the combined forces of the Afghan army and police only amounted to 2,500 men.
Ever since 2007 when security began to deteriorate in the province, it had been government strategy to tolerate these private militias, he said.
“The state lacks the power to confront these militants,” Rahmati explained.
This report was produced by an IWPR-trained reporter under IWPR’s Critical Mass Media Reporting in Afghanistan project, funded by CORDAID.
KABUL: Afghan Anti-Corruption Network (AACN) on Monday awarded the 2014 Integrity Award to Senator Anarkali Honaryar, the member of Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee Yama Torabi, and Khoshhal Rohi, a society activist.
The integrity award is given away each year to individuals who are not involved in corruption and worked honestly. The AACN carries out survey every year to determine who the most honest people are.
Speaking at the award ceremony which was observed in connection with the International Anti-Corruption Day, Anarkali Honaryar voiced her pleasure over receiving the prestigious award and said that all three pillars of the state including executive, legislature and judiciary are polluted with corruption. However, still there are some honest people, she said.
“Corruption is spreading like venom in the veins of Afghan society. It is social and moral duty of all and sundry to come forward and start fighting corruption. At first, graft shall be eliminated from home and later from the society,” she said.
Spokesperson for AACN, Shokrullah Mashkor, said that due to lack of political seriousness, presence of mafia groups in the government and absence of specific policies to fight corruption are the main factors that let the graft culture to take deep roots in Afghanistan.
“Silence of public over such a serious issue is another dilemma. To deal with this challenge, the national unity government must ask former officials to prepare themselves for accountability. Moreover, corrupt people shall not be given chance in the new cabinet,” he suggested.
Mashkor said that exemplary punishment should be given to all those who are involved in corruption. “Otherwise, ending corruption will remain a dream.”
The spokesman further said that mobilization of people corruption, coordination of civil society groups and strengthening of social sensibility against corruption are vital to cope with the issue across the country.
�AACN urged Afghans to appreciate and support the honest people, stand firm against corrupt individuals, support the national unity government in their fight against corruption and reforms. The Network also asked the national unity government to fulfill their pledges.
Editorial: ISAF’s combat mission ends but what next?
On Monday, ISAF’s combat mission in Afghanistan came to an end. The United States and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission after 13 years of bloody war amid spiking violence across the country. NATO’s international Security Assistance Force Joint Command, that led the combat operations, lowered its flag and formally wound its deployment up. American General John F. Campbell, commander of NATO-ISAF forces, said the coalition will launch a �new non-combat mission—a mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security troops, who have led the fight against the Taliban for over a year. Whether the 13 years long mission against terrorism and militancy was successful or a failure has become part of Afghanistan’s contemporary history, but what makes Afghan nation anxious is now the clarity of international mission of foreign troops in the country. Although, NATO’s leadership say it wouldn’t have anything to combat rather they will remain focused only on training and advisory role, however there is no lack of skepticism among Afghan citizens particularly after the handover of Latif Mehsud—a militant commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, who was nabbed by Afghan security years and forcefully taken by American forces, to Pakistan. Given that such occurrences take place, keep the trust intact between Kabul and Washington will be difficult enough. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wants a slower pullout of foreign forces. In a meeting with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ghani sought a slower pace of withdrawal. His plea looks the aftermath of increased Taliban attacks. Since Afghanistan has been grappling with deadliest insurgency therefore it needs robust international assistance in terms of security and aid, but at the same time it has been trying to secure its position as a democratic and independent state and its sovereignty accepted. NATO and ISAF’s international combat missions reach to an end in Afghanistan at such a time when US President Barack Obama signed a decree that allows 9,800 additional troops in Afghanistan who will put the number of American troops in this country at 10,800. Ending the combat mission while extending it for one year simultaneously reveals how much faltered approach the US has had adopted. Just a few months back, none has sounded more determined to take the United States out from Afghanistan than Obama. In May he said that it was time to turn the page. He said it when he was announcing plans to reduce American troops to 9,800 by the end of December, with a full withdrawal by the end of 2016. That design appeared to be on the anvil until now, however his plan took a seismic shift when he authorized a more expansive mission for the US military in 2015 than originally planned. His order will put American soldiers right back into ground combat by allowing them to carry out mission against the Taliban and other militants. It’s really a tectonic change even in the face of criticism from his own administration officials as they still insist that the combat mission should end by the end of this year. What Kabul seeks is their slower pullout, however it shouldn’t be bypassed and kept in darkness over certain greater matters of national interests because keeping the alliance intact and uninterrupted it’s much essential the United States shouldn’t let Kabul down.