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Our big mistake was to assume we had won Afghan War: UK envoy

London, Sun, 11 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 11(ANI): British ambassador to Afghanistan William Patey has claimed both Washington and Downing Street wrongly assumed that the Afghan War was "won and the Taliban had run away" in what he described as a major strategy mistake.


"We were too focused on Iraq and we took our eye off the ball. We thought we had won [in Afghanistan] and the Taliban had run away and we just sort of left it to the Afghans to get on with it and we very quickly switched our focus to Iraq. You don't normally write history so quickly but I'm pretty clear that we won't have to wait too long for history to make that judgment," The Telegraph quoted Patey, as saying.


He also suggested that the presence of International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) had become a hindrance to the stability of the country.


"Afghans have never been comfortable with foreigners and there comes a point - no matter how benign the intentions, and how much you explain that this [ISAF] is not an occupying force, that we are here under a UN mandate agreed with the Afghans - when you just outstay your welcome," he added.


The ambassador also said the role of British and ISAF troops had changed in the past few years to focus on "buying time".


Despite his criticism of the Labour government's past failings, he said the country would have a bright future if the West does not lose interest in Afghanistan's development.


"Afghanistan will be a mess for many years to come, but it will be an improving mess", There is one end of the scale where we leave, the Afghans bicker amongst themselves, the Taliban don't sign up to negotiations and there is internal strife. I don't think that's the most likely, but it is within the range of possibilities just as it is that the Afghans get everything right," he added. (ANI)


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