Washington: Afghanistan`s top diplomat to the United States believes the Obama administration`s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawal of troops will not help the country and might actually embolden the Taliban.
"No. Frankly not," Afghan Ambassador to the US, Said T Jawad, told the CNN in an interview when asked if the deadline of beginning to pull out troops in July of next year would be helpful.
"If you overemphasise a deadline that is not realistic, you are making the enemy a lot more bold. You are prolonging the war," he said.
He said for any deadline to be realistic, it has to be based on reality on the ground, or the troops face the prospect of losing support of the Afghan people.
"We should give a clear message to the enemy, to the terrorists who are a threat to everyone that the US, NATO and Afghans are there to finish the job," the Ambassador said.
"If that`s not the feeling, we lose the support of the Afghan people and also make the neighbouring countries who have an interest a lot more bolder to interfere in Afghanistan," he said.
Jawad said there is a strong national consensus on the issue of reconciliation with the Taliban and opening up the political process for all was vital for establishing peace.
"We cannot kill every bad guy in Afghanistan... We are opening the political process for them to join the Afghan people and the Afghan government to build a new Afghanistan," the ambassador said.
He said Pakistan was also cooperating on the issue. "I think our regional countries, Pakistan, are becoming a lot more cooperative. We are very much looking forward to implement this," he said.
`Deadline a mistake`
In the meantime, Senator Joe Lieberman, on a trip to the war-torn country, said Obama`s motive while announcing a timeline was to send out a message that US troops would not stay in the country forever.
"On balance, I think it was a mistake, because it sent a message to the Afghans, to the Taliban, to people in the neighbourhood that we`re going to leave, regardless. And that`s not the fact," Lieberman told the Fox News.
At the same time, Lieberman noted that he understands why Obama made such an announcement.
"With regard to the date of July 2011, which President Obama said was the date by which he would begin withdrawing troops, I understand why President Obama said that when he committed to Afghanistan and winning in Afghanistan last December. I think he did it so the Afghans wouldn`t think we`d stay here forever," he said.
Lieberman said Gen David Patraeus, the new Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has already clarified that the decision would be based on the ground realities in July 2011.
"The President has come some distance now in the last couple of weeks and clarified that. Whatever we do in July of 2011 will be based on conditions on the ground at the time," he said.
"You know, the President made the right decision last December that America has a vital, national security interest on the line here in Afghanistan. We`ve got to win it. And therefore, you don`t put that on a timeline," Lieberman said.
The Senator said the country would want to bring back the troops home as soon as possible.