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British Strategic Objectives in Afghanistan?

By Shahid Qureshi –
London: On Wednesday 5th November 2008, Lord Ahmed an outspoken member of the House Lords debated British strategy in Afghanistan. He asked the British Government, “Are the Government of Pakistan assisting NATO and United States forces to achieve our strategic goals? Why is it necessary for NATO and the United States to bomb inside Pakistan? Does my noble friend agree that a destabilised Pakistan is more dangerous than a destabilised Afghanistan”?

In this debate Lord Jopling also asked British Government, “What are the strategic objectives of operations in Afghanistan; and how success will be measured”?

Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown responded, “My Lords, I assure my noble friend that NATO is not bombing inside Pakistan. What he has in mind is a United States action, which is primarily a matter for the United States and Pakistan to resolve. However, I certainly confirm to my noble friend that we all believe that the newly elected democratic Government of Pakistan must be allowed to prevail. Were it to fail, that would be a great setback for all our objectives in the region”.

“Have we failed to learn the lessons of history in central Asia? We have had an obsession with Afghanistan for more than 200 years. We have seen other nations leave Afghanistan with their tails between their legs. If we fail to equip our troops properly to do the job with which we have charged them, will we see another infamous and humiliating retreat from Kabul, such as that which this country suffered—the historians in this House will correct me if I am wrong—in 1842?,  asked Lord Imbert.

Lord Malloch-Brown’s response was, “My Lords, while I, like the noble Lord, am a great respecter of history, I say to him that this action in Afghanistan is driven by the astonishing international attack made on 9/11 against the United States. The whole world came together to endorse action to ensure that never again would Afghanistan be a haven for such terrorists. As to vehicles, we have just committed some £30 million to upgrade the Snatch vehicles, although I know that they are controversial to some. Last week, we also announced the procurement of nearly 700 new vehicles and the upgrading of 200 more, because we must have the right equipment for our troops”.

Lord Ahmed is member of the Labour Party and very well known for his anti war views and support for human rights.

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