The Taliban has been “exaggerating” about some incidents, according to Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States, who spoke to a group of journalists here in the wake of last weekend’s deadly attack against a helicopter carrying U.S. and Afghan troops.
Thirty U.S. troops, including 22 members of Navy Seal Team Six, which carried out the operation against Osama bin Laden, and eight Afghans were killed in Saturday’s attack in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
Despite such attacks, the transition of control from international forces to Afghan personnel has been proceeding since July, Ambassador Hakimi said, and “We have confidence in our security forces.”
While the Ambassador admitted that Afghanistan was engaged in a war with a “complicated enemy,” he expressed optimism on the process of reconciliation and reintegration of some Taliban and opposition fighters, pointing out that 1800 such fighters had already laid down arms and entered negotiations.
In response to a question from The Hindu on whether the latest attack was directed against the U.S. or whether countries such as India, whose embassy in Afghanistan was attacked in February 2010, ought to worry about a deteriorating security situation, Mr. Hakimi said that it was difficult to anticipate such incidents given the state of war in the country.
The Ambassador also touched upon the respective roles of India and Pakistan in Afghanistan’s future, arguing that while “Pakistan could play a crucial role in the success of reconciliation,” Afghanistan required a balance between the countries and it was important to work with both of them.
He had positive words, in particular, for India’s assistance in helping develop Afghanistan’s infrastructure including the transport, energy and health sectors, and the symbolically important reconstruction of Afghanistan’s Parliament building.
Highlighting the $2 billion in assistance supplied to Afghanistan by India Mr. Hakimi said his country was “grateful” to India for such support over the last ten years. He said that although India’s role continued to be limited to sectors such as infrastructure, if Afghanistan needed support in strategic areas such as training of police and army staff, “we can ask our friendly countries for support.”