Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) seems to be mulling long-term presence in Afghanistan despite the Afghan government’s expression of readiness to take responsibility for the war-torn country’s security.
The Independent reported on Sunday a top British general has claimed that a withdrawal of British military forces from Afghanistan this summer would imperil the progress at a crucial moment.
Lieutenant-General Nick Carter, the UK’s most senior commander in the Asian country, insisted a hasty withdrawal would “damage Afghan confidence”.
Foreign forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and hand over responsibility for the country’s security to the Afghan government.
There are currently about 8,000 British troops in Afghanistan, with a planned reduction to 5,200 by the end of 2013.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but Afghanistan remains insecure despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led forces there.
The prolonged war, which has caused record-high civilian and military casualties, has become the longest military conflict in the US history.
The British military’s death toll in Afghanistan has reached 441 since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.