Afghan pull-out would hurt, MPs told

Senior Afghan officials on Friday urged MPs to back extending the Dutch military mission in the southern province of Uruzgan until 2010, as ministers are proposing.

Speaking during a marathon 12-hour parliamentary hearing into the NATO mission in Afghanistan, Uruzgan provincial governor Asadullah Hamdam said Dutch efforts in restoring the region were vital to its success.
In particular, efforts needed to be made to develop the economy and to train the local police, he said.
The hearing, which is also being addressed by military officials, unions and independent experts, is part of MPs’ preparations for the debate on extending the Dutch mission in Uruzgan by two years which will take place later this month.
Daan Everts, a civilian NATO advisor in Kabul, said international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan were often not focused enough on the Afghans themselves. The international community lost time, money and energy by not making sure the military mission, reconstruction efforts and diplomacy were carried out in concert, he said.
However, if the Netherlands withdrew, it would have a snowball effect, Everts said, and would damage the efforts of Canadian and Australian soldiers who are also active in the region.
On Thursday, opposition MPs held their own alternative hearings. Former Dutch minister and UN special representative Jan Pronk told MPs that reaching a deal with the Taliban was the only way to beat them and bring peace to Afghanistan.

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