LONDON: Britain should pull out its troops from Afghanistan as quickly as decently possible, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown has said.
Writing in the Times, Lord Ashdown gave a bleak assessment of the 11-year war and said it had become crystal clear that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) had lost in Afghanistan.
Lord Ashdown said the international community had been “divided, cacophonous, chaotic” in Afghanistan.
Some 438 British service personnel have lost their lives in the war so far.
While the UK government is committed to a timetable of withdrawing most of Britain’s 9,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Lord Ashdown said the only rational policy was to leave quickly.
He warned that the only outcome of staying longer was more deaths for no purpose, highlighting the increasing number of Nato troops being killed by those wearing Afghan army or police uniforms.
Lord Ashdown acknowledged that Nato had succeeded in one objective— driving out Al Qaeda— but said most other goals, especially the establishment of a sustainable state, had not been achieved.
He said: “We cannot pretend there is any more to do in Afghanistan. The urgent priority is to get out.
“It is not worth wasting one more life in Afghanistan. All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently, has been lost.
“The only rational policy now is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies. This is the only cause for which further lives should be risked.”
The Lib Dem peer said it was a political rather than a military failure.
“The international community in Afghanistan needed to speak with a single voice in pursuit of a single plan with clear priorities,” he said.
“Instead we have been divided, cacophonous, chaotic. We should have concentrated on winning in Afghanistan where it mattered, instead of distracting ourselves with adventures in Iraq.”