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PublishDate: Monday, February 4, 2013 13:44

‘If UK leaves Afghanistan, Taliban will return for global jihad’

A senior Afghan commander who has advised the British prime minister has warned that withdrawing British troops from Afghanistan will spark a “global jihad”.

A senior Afghan commander who has advised the British prime minister has warned that withdrawing British troops from Afghanistan will spark a “global jihad”.

The damaging comments come the day David Cameron hosted a high-profile summit at Chequers to discuss plans to combat the Taliban and other terrorist threats after American and British troops pull out next year. But in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Colonel Amin Jan of the Afghan National Army (ANA) said that removing British forces from Afghanistan would allow al Qaeda and the Taliban to seize power.

The officer also claimed that ANA troops were not good enough to defeat the insurgents – a statement that is politically embarrassing for the prime minister, as these troops had been trained by UK mentors for the past three years.

Britain’s exit strategy hinges on national forces being able to combat the Taliban. But Col Jan – the second most senior Afghan commander in Helmand province – accused politicians of making misleading assessments of Afghan troops’ capabilities to justify their decision to accelerate the pull out of international forces. The British prime minister has pledged to pull out all troops next year, before the next election. But already numbers are being cut back and bases in tactically crucial areas being closed down.

Asked if 2014 was the right time for a handover, Col Jan said: “No, I would say that it is too early, because the situation will not have ended. If the British leave, the jihadists will see it as a good sign. A worldwide jihad will take place. That is my view.”

And when asked if the ANA could defeat the Taliban without international help, he said: “Our leaders might say we are able to do the task, but it will be difficult.” “We have enough soldiers, we have the quantity, but we need the quality. We need more professional and better trained commanders,” he said.

“Do the British want Afghanistan to return to being a Taliban state? That is the prospect.” As recently as December, Cameron praised the Afghan forces for their readiness to tackle the Taliban after the withdrawal. Addressing British troops in Camp Bastion, he said: “Frankly, the Afghan Army is doing better than we expected, there’s more of them than we expected and that’s why we are able to bring home so many troops.” Col Jan, 55, is the deputy commander of a brigade of 4,500 soldiers in Helmand, where fighting against the Taliban has been most intense. He is also respected for his resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s. He is in no doubt that pressure from the British public is the driving force behind the withdrawal of troops from Helmand, but warned: “People in Britain should consider what the future is for Afghanistan and the world.” (Pakistan Today)

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