Brown seeks to rally public over Afghan war

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  1. Brown seeks to rally public over Afghan war

    By James Blitz in London and Matthew Green in Kabul

    Published: November 5 2009 22:27 | Last updated: November 6 2009 11:13

    Gordon Brown on Friday warned Hamid Karzai, the newly reappointed Afghan president, that he must meet five key tests over the next few months if he is to guarantee an effective partnership between his government and Nato over Afghanistan’s future.

    In a move to rally public opinion after the worst week for the UK in Helmand province since British forces were deployed there in 2006, the prime minister said international support for Mr Karzai “depends on the scale of his ambition and the degree of his achievement in five key areas”. He hoped the president would use his swearing-in ceremony later this month to outline clear plans to promote security, good governance, national reconciliation, economic development and improved relations with Afghanistan’s neigbours.

    A YouGov poll for Channel Four News underscored the growing public disenchantment with the war, with opposition rising sharply over the past two weeks.

    The poll shows that over a third of the population (35 per cent) think British troops should be withdrawn immediately, compared with 25 per cent a fortnight ago. Overall, some 73 per cent of people want UK troops out of Afghanistan now or within a year, while 57 per cent think victory is no longer possible.

    Mr Brown used a hastily drafted speech on Afghanistan to say that the first two areas where Mr Karzai must show progress in the next few months are security – in particular expanding the Afghan police and army – and governance – led by efforts to root out corruption, which Mr Karzai described as his new government’s “first priority”.

    The president’s office responded by saying that Mr Karzai was committed to fighting corruption, but warning that donor countries also had a role to play in boosting transparency.

    ”The President has renewed his commitment in fighting this menace by redoubling his government’s efforts,” it said in a statement. ”But fighting corruption requires closer and more effective cooperation between government of Afghanistan and the international community in order to fight corruption in all its forms whether it’s in the Afghan bureaucracy or in the award of international contracts.”

    Critics say international donors have allowed poorly conceived aid programmes to Afghanistan to deliver lucrative profits to western contractors while delivering limited benefits to Afghans.

    Mr Brown also urged Mr Karzai to reach out to elements “outside the political process... that rejected violence” – a reference to insurgents who could be won round.

    He also called for an ambitious economic development plan, moving away from dependence on poppy production, along the lines of UK development efforts in Helmand province.

    Calling for more regional engagement, he said improved political relations between Afghan and Pakistani leaders had yet to translate into close co-operation between key institutions in the two countries.

    After the shooting of five British soldiers this week by a rogue trainee Afghan policeman, Mr Brown made clear that the UK and its allies could not stop the core task of training Afghan security forces: “We will not give up this strategy of mentoring, because it is what distinguishes a liberating army from an army of occupation.”

    He also said that there could be no question of the UK unilaterally withdrawing from the mission simply because it faced a particularly severe task in Helmand.

    Underscoring the international nature of the mission, he said: “We entered together eight years ago. We must persist together; in our different ways we must all contribute; in the end we will succeed or fail together.”

    However, Labour ministers remain deeply concerned that the government is losing the battle to maintain public confidence in the Afghan strategy, in a week that has also seen one leading Labour figure, Kim Howells, calling for troops to come home.

    Mr Brown’s speech comes as the United Nations prepares temporarily to evacuate hundreds of foreign personnel from Afghanistan as it tightens security following last week’s Taliban attack on a guesthouse in Kabul.

    The prospect of large numbers of UN workers leaving the country is likely to feed public doubts over the west’s mission amid mounting Nato casualties and questions over the legitimacy of Mr Karzai.

    “Nobody knows what is going to happen,” said one member of the UN’s administrative staff. “Some are afraid for their safety. At the same time, some are afraid for their jobs.”

    UN officials stressed that the plan would affect non-essential staff and that disruption would be kept to a minimum.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/38aed4aa-ca58-11de-a3a3-00144feabdc0.html
     
  2. Ha, ha, stamp out corruption? Put your own house in order first, Gordon - Pots and kettles come to mind.
     
  3. The poll shows that over a third of the population (35 per cent) think British troops should be withdrawn immediately, compared with 25 per cent a fortnight ago. Overall, some 73 per cent of people want UK troops out of Afghanistan now or within a year, while 57 per cent think victory is no longer possible.

    Why is it that brown repeatedly jumps to implement poorly thought out, knee jerk, reactive policies because of harsh words in the media ... yet he totally ignores endless polls showing him the voters think his policies suck goats!
     
  4. Agree'd, The man has'nt a clue :roll:
     
  5. rallying public support could be possible by a leader that we trust. However this is most definitely not the case with this traitorous scumbag who's lied to us repeatedly and continues to mislead us on every possible issue.