Kabul, Nov. 21 (ANI): British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has warned British opponents of the Afghan war that the Hamid Karzai-led government could collapse within weeks if NATO pulled out its troops now.
"If international forces leave, you can choose a time - five minutes, 24 hours or seven days - but the insurgent forces will overrun those forces that are prepared to put up resistance and we would be back to square one," the Guardian quoted Miliband, as saying at the end of a visit to Kabul for the presidential inauguration of Hamid Karzai.
Miliband added that Afghans were "sad that they need anyone, but they are passionate that my goodness they do - because if we weren't here their country would be rolled over".
Admitting that the public anxiety over Afghanistan is growing in Britain as a result of rising casualties, Miliband said leaving the war at this stage could have even more dangerous consequences.
"Afghanistan wasn't on the front pages until the last six months for obvious reasons. Now for tragic reasons there is a lot of interest. What we have to do is explain to people that the costs of staying are real but they are less than the costs of leaving," he said.
Miliband said Karzai's estimation of a three- to five-year deadline for the handover of security control to Afghan forces would not mean an end to western involvement.
"My argument is not stay or go, my argument is we stay for a purpose, for a period, for progress. Artificial timetables just give succour to your enemy. We are going to transition, and transition is a better word than exit," he pointed out. (ANI)