Afghan forces will be ready to take over from NATO by 2013

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Kabul, Oct 5(ANI): Afghanistan has said that its army would be ready by 2013 to handle complete responsibilities and to fight the Taliban without the direct help of international forces.

"Within the next four years we will take the complete responsibility of the security from the international community, and the international forces will stay on their bases to support Afghanistan National Army forces," The Globe and Mail quoted General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the chief spokesman for the Afghan military, as saying.

"Maybe it will go one year forward or one year backward. But the aim of the Afghans and the international community is to accelerate this process," he added.

General Azimi's comments follow the assessment being made by Canada and other NATO countries weigh the time, expense and lives they have given to the mission.

Canada has also said that it would end combat operations in Afghanistan by 2011.

He further said that the Canadian Government should realize that the international forces have been for a positive presence in Afghanistan, and it is due to them that the country is able to live freely.

"If the people of Afghanistan trust the ANA, it is because Canadian and other international troops helped the army learn how to do its job. As I speak with you, seven million boys and girls are going to school. When women's rights were violated, you can see that the media immediately broadcast that," General Azimi said.

"We have a free press. We have 20 local TV channels in Afghanistan. Four million people are using cell phones. Four million people have been repatriated. There are hundreds of schools, clinics, and hospitals in Afghanistan," he added.

Earlier, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, had said that the size of the ANA should be increase from its current strength of about 96,000 troops to 124,000 by next year, and then double that number by 2013. And that time, the number of fully trained Afghan soldiers would equal the existing international contingent, so they would be able to tackle the Taliban and other issues.

Afghan officials do not believe they will have any trouble filling the uniforms, as there are plenty of young men in Afghanistan looking for work, and the 70 dollar a month they receive as soldiers is better than the wages of even district council leaders. (ANI)

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