GREATER U.S. EFFORT URGED FOR PEACE
The United States’ long war in Afghanistan must continue — for at least three years, maybe longer — for there to be lasting peace and prosperity in that war-torn country, the former Afghan ambassador to the United States said Thursday in Omaha.
Said T. Jawad, the former ambassador and the former chief of staff to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, marked the ninth anniversary of the war by arguing that only a smarter reconstruction effort will lead to success in Afghanistan.
Afghans need more education and job training — and they need to be protected from the terrorist havens inside Pakistan — to pull themselves out of three straight decades of violence, political upheaval and economic turmoil, he said.
“We need to Afghanize this program,” he said. “More Afghans need to take charge, and they need help to do that. … The key is training quality Afghans to do the job.”
Jawad answered a reporter’s questions before giving the keynote speech at the Global Studies Conference, a three-day event held annually at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The United States launched attacks in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
Afghans and Americans are frustrated with the slow pace of progress in Afghanistan, Jawad said, and with a reconstruction effort that has often been hampered by attacks from the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
And Jawad himself isn’t immune from that frustration. During the interview, he sketched a portrait of the Karzai government that is losing sight of the reason that it wanted to govern after the Taliban fell nine years ago.
Jawad has reason to be frustrated. He was unceremoniously removed from his ambassador’s position last month after seven years, a move that shocked U.S. political and military leaders.
His was the latest in a series of high-profile ousters presumably made by the Afghan president.
Some analysts say the ousters show Karzai’s erratic nature, while others say he had been stung by American criticism and took it out on his longtime ambassador.
“Things have become extremely politicized,” Jawad said. “A lot of (political) appointments are made for reasons other than merit. … It isn’t like how we started at the beginning.”
Nine years after the war began, both Jawad and Thomas Gouttierre, director of UNO’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, believe that a long-term effort focused on education is the only good way out of Afghanistan for the Americans.
Jawad wants more scholarship programs for Afghan students at U.S. universities. He said the United States needs to build a first-rate university inside Afghanistan, similar to previous efforts in Egypt and Lebanon.
More difficult, he said, will be persuading the Pakistani government and military to go after Taliban-affiliated terrorists who live freely in Pakistan’s tribal areas and travel freely to fight the Americans and Afghans inside Afghanistan. The insurgents disrupt any reconstruction that might otherwise take place, Jawad said.
Gouttierre has long argued that teacher training, other job training programs and the employment of Afghans in the reconstruction are the best tools to bring economic stability and security to Afghanistan.
“They’ve lived through such hell for so long,” Gouttierre said of Afghans who have endured a Soviet Union invasion, a long and bloody civil war, the rise of the Taliban and then the U.S. invasion.
“But even after the ups and down of the past nine years … they know that without (the United States) in their part of the world, Afghanistan would revert to a Talibanized country. And they don’t want that.”
Proper training of the Afghan National Army and police will take three more years, Jawad said. Only then can they take control of military and security operations in the country.
And it will be 2017, he believes, before the final U.S. and NATO military officials who are overseeing reconstruction should depart. “You can say that’s going to take too long,” Jawad said.
“But what if we’d started it right away, nine years ago? We’d be done.”