American envoy to Kabul says US should resist early pullout
Islam Times - American envoy to Kabul insists that Washington should resist an urge to pull US troops out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule in reaction to the widening show of Afghan outrage over the desecration of the Holy Qur’an at a US military base.
"Tensions are running very high here. I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business," said Ryan Crocker in a nationally televised interview during CNN's "State of the Union" talk show on Sunday.
"This is not the time to decide that we are done here. We have got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation that al-Qaeda is not coming back," Crocker said.
He added, "If we decide we're tired of it, al-Qaeda and the Taliban certainly aren't."
Despite an apology from US President Barack Obama and a call for restraint from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, anti-US demonstrations are continuing across Afghanistan over the desecration of the Holy Qur’an at the US military’s Bagram Airbase, located 11 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of the city of Charikar in the northern province of Parwan.
More than 30 people, including two high-ranking US military officers shot dead inside the Afghan Interior Ministry, have been killed during protest rallies and some ensuing clashes since they began last Tuesday.
The desecration of the Holy Qur’an underscores the insensitivity of US-led forces towards cultural and religious values and rituals in Afghanistan, even over 10 years after their military invasion of the Asian nation to remove the Taliban from power.
Lack of security continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of nearly 150,000 US-led forces in the war-torn country.
The United Nations reported in February that 2011 was the deadliest on record for Afghan civilians. The death toll climbed eight percent compared to the previous year and was roughly double the figure for 2007.
Overall, 3,021 civilians died in violence related to the war in 2011 while 4,507 were wounded. Of the casualties, the UN attributed 77 percent to militant attacks and 14 percent to US-led foreign troops and Afghan forces. Nine percent of the cases were classified as unknown.
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