The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan would soon become a reality. Washington is set to withdraw from Afghanistan in due course, a calculated effort to reduce the burden of the war on American decreasing economy. The war is overextended and its cost increasingly outpaces its benefits. Another argument for their withdrawal is that the troops entered the country years ago when it lacked all its legitimate state institutions. According to the BBC report, currently more than $2bn a week is expended and that has attracted criticism from Congressional leaders. The US has withdrawn 4,000 troops from Afghanistan of the 10,000 it planned to withdraw by the year’s end. The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, said: “We are on a timeline, as you know, ten thousand out by the end of the year that is being met.”

The US military has set up a supply system for them to use, but the Afghans prefer the Americans operate the system rather than their having to. There is also a problem of corruption, with Afghan forces stealing supplies and selling them.

The engagement of the Americans and Nato forces in Afghanistan has been expedited and facilitated through the cooperation of Pakistan, which increases the influence of the end in the war. More importantly, as the US and Nato forces move out of Afghanistan, it becomes imperative for Pakistan to understand how to fill in the vacuum left behind. Indeed a growing concern among the Americans is that the Afghan war is becoming more and more a logistics war. The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov 3, 2011 that the Obama administration is considering changing the US military’s mission in Afghanistan to an advisory role and scaling back combat duties prior to the end of 2014.

Thus the forces will no longer be tailored for certain eventualities, but instead will have to be able to handle a variety of missions. The aim of the Nato summit is to agree on a common stance as the alliance prepares to hand over security duties to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.

FAIZA MANZOOR,

Islamabad, September 4.