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Pakistan asks coalition not to leave Afghanistan in haste

Last Updated: Friday, January 1, 2010 - 01:26

Islamabad: The Pakistani government warned
foreign forces today not to leave Afghanistan "in haste",
saying Islamabad was committed to its role as a US partner in
the battle against extremists.

Washington is urging Pakistan to crack down on militant
strongholds along its border, but US President Barack Obama
unnerved many officials by vowing to begin drawing down US
forces in Afghanistan in July 2011.

"The decision to leave Afghanistan should be taken when
it is able to look after itself effectively," foreign ministry
spokesman Abdul Basit told a press briefing.

"Stability and peace in Afghanistan is in our strategic
interest... We are therefore engaged with the US in ensuring
that the new US Afghanistan policy delivers," Basit added.

"Coalition forces should not leave Afghanistan in haste."

Islamabad has expressed concern that Obama`s new war
strategy, announced in December, could destabilise the region
if forces leave before Afghanistan is able to counter a
virulent Taliban insurgency alone.

Plans to send 30,000 more US troops into the war zone
have also raised fears that militants might flee new
offensives and head into Pakistan`s troubled northwest and
southern border regions.

Pakistan saw a flood of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants
enter its lawless borderlands after a US-led invasion ousted
the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 and security has
drastically deteriorated in the last eight years.


First Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 - 01:26
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