The Obama administration is busy these days in planning different postwar strategies for Afghanistan. A significant cutback in the presence of civilians after the 2014 has been ordered, with pros and cons of a large civilian presence further being looked into by the administration. The administration feels that once the US-led coalition forces pull out from the volatile country at the end of 2014, there will be no need for a large number of civilians to be there. However, nothing is certain yet but the withdrawal of the combat troops two years from now. It is important at the moment to devise postwar strategies for the violence-wracked country with an eye on different options of leaving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan behind.
One thing is for sure - if strength of the civilian force is reduced in Afghanistan with withdrawal of the international troops, a number of public welfare projects would be shelved. Numerous projects like education, health, women’s rights and infrastructure will be affected. It means that in the long run, there would be a significant reduction in eyes and ears across Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international troops - which may not be well for the volatile country as well as the US and its allies. The move can also provide an opportunity to militants and terrorists linked to Taliban and al-Qaida to return back to cities and towns from hills, where they have been hiding.
Although the United States and its NATO allies have agreed for the presence of a small counterterrorism force in Afghanistan to keep an eye on militants, under the emerging plan, the number of counterterrorism force troops might be less than one thousand. It should be noted here that there are serious questions over the capability of Afghan forces to handle security after the withdrawal of international troops. The US and NATO troops have been training Afghan forces to deal with terrorists and militants, but the outcome is not up to the mark.
The planners are also discussing the presence of significant troops in the volatile country for a specific time to assist Afghan forces successfully conduct operations against the militants. However, the option does not seem to be acceptable to most of the countries, including the United States. Most of the NATO countries have been impatiently looking forward to the withdrawal deadline, as pressure from their public and human rights organizations have been mounting on them.
Although Pakistan and India – two neighbors of Afghanistan – are closely observing the developments and keen for their roles in the post-American era in the war-ravaged country, a significant number of international troops and civilians should stay in Afghanistan to facilitate Afghan officials in dealing with different postwar challenges.