Soldiers’ unions question Afghan mission

Dutch soldiers serving in Afghanistan are beginning to ask themselves what they are doing in the country because of the mess the Afghan authorities are making, according to the head of the biggest army union.

The lives of Dutch soldiers are at stake to ‘support the extremely dubious goverment of president Karzai which is sending this Islamic country back to the Middle Ages,’ Wim van den Burg of the AFMP military union says in Monday’s Telegraaf.
‘President Karzai and his sidekicks were involved in election fraud, they throw critical journalists in jail, they bring in laws which discriminate against women… all under the eyes of the coalition troops,’ he said. ‘Our government should ask itself is this why 21 Dutch soldiers have died?’
The Netherlands has some 1,500 soldiers serving with Nato forces in Afghanstan and will remain a central part of the mission until August 2010.
Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop said he was disappointed in the union’s position. ‘Setbacks are to be expected and are no reason for a weakening of resolve,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘The soldiers, aid workers and diplomats who are doing difficult work in Afghanistan are standing tall and are extremely motivated. I am really proud of them.’

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