West will never beat Taliban, Rudd warned
By Matt Wade Herald Correspondent in Islamabad and agencies
-- - A FORMER head of Pakistan's military intelligence says
Australia's troop deployment in Afghanistan is doomed to failure
and has urged the Government to withdraw its forces as quickly
Hamid Gul, the retired general who was the director-general of
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate when it
supported Afghan militias against the Soviet occupation of their
country, believes Western troops will be forced to leave
Afghanistan by the end of next year.
"There comes a time in every war when the scales start tilting,"
Mr Gul said. "I think the foreign presence in Afghanistan is at
a tipping point now. Even if they are able to stretch it out,
next year will be the last campaign year of the occupying
forces. Then they will go - they will have to go."
Mr Gul said it was not "wise" for Australia to maintain its
troop commitment. "Of course it's very difficult to say no to
America, but [Australia should] find a way out like Japan … and
More than six years after the US-led invasion, the issue of
security came to a head this week when the Canadian Prime
Minister, Stephen Harper, threatened to pull out Canada's 2500
troops early next year unless NATO sent in more soldiers.
The US said it would press its European NATO allies to send more
troops to Afghanistan's violent south, but the Pentagon has said
it will not commit any more of its own forces there.
The Taliban were toppled by the invasion in late 2001 but have
recently made an explosive comeback, despite the presence of
50,000 foreign troops under the command of NATO and the US
military, backed by 120,000 Afghan security forces.
Australia has about 1000 troops stationed mainly in the south,
making it the largest non-NATO contributor. The Prime Minister,
Kevin Rudd, has pledged to keep Australian troops in
But Mr Gul says Western forces face a determined opposition that
will not give up."As a soldier I can tell you there is no army,
no matter how strong, that can prevail against a nation that
decides to fight. You will never, never prevail," he said.
Since retirement Mr Gul has been involved with Jamaat-i-Islami,
a relatively moderate Islamic political party in Pakistan, and
was among a group of retired army officers who last week called
on the President, Pervez Musharraf, to stand down.
Mr Gul concedes that a withdrawal from Afghanistan by the US and
its allies would probably hand control of much of the country to
the Taliban. But he said the security situation in his own
country would improve significantly if US forces were to depart
The Afghan Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, has said Kabul
expects its allies to help expand Afghanistan's security forces.
"The only sustainable way to secure this country in an enduring
way is to enable the Afghans themselves to be able to defend
this country," he said.
Copyright © 2008. The Sydney Morning Herald.
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