Killings won't speed up withdrawal - Key
Sun, 05 Aug 2012 6:05p.m.
By Patrick Gower
New Zealand troops were sent to keep the peace in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province.
But exactly two years to the day since our first soldier was killed there, another two have been killed in the very same area.
Now a total of seven Kiwis have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Prime Minister John Key today emphasised the scale of that loss.
“For New Zealand, a small country, losing seven of our men is an enormous price to pay.”
Two elite SAS troops were killed in combat, and three other soldiers have already died in Bamiyan.
The question is - has it been worth it? Is Afghanistan any safer now?
“I think overall, yes,” says Mr Key.
The war started as the American response to September 11. But with no end in sight, the United States and its allies are on the way out.
The SAS finished its last tour in March and the Bamiyan Provincial Reconstruction Team will be withdrawn next year.
Mr Key says the latest deaths won't change that plan.
“I don't think it argues the case that we should stay longer - but I don't think the terrible loss that we have suffered overnight also argues the case that we should leave earlier - I think we should just remain on track and continue to do the things we are doing.”
University of Auckland politics lecturer Stephen Hoadley says the deaths do not mean New Zealand’s commitment to the war has been in vain.
“Does this mean New Zealand has failed in the Bamiyan province? I would say no, quite the opposite. Most of the Bamiyan province is orderly, making progress, security is high,” he says.
But in the rest of Afghanistan, the current regime is tarred by corruption and there are fears Afghanistan will be plunged into civil war.
It's a country of conflict - described as ‘a war without end’. So what will happen now?
Labour leader David Shearer isn’t making any predictions.
“Look it's anybody’s guess. We all hope for the best and we all hope the central authority will be able to take real control.”
However Mr Key is more optimistic.
“It’s an environment that's more likely to be able to support itself - and an environment that's less likely to host global insurgency - like we saw with Al Qaeda.”
New Zealand has fought in Afghanistan for longer than it did in two world wars. And this latest attack is a powerful reminder that the war has been far from a success story for any of the international forces involved. The fundamental question remains - what happens next?
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6/08/2012 9:14:54 a.m.
NZ should not be there, waste of money, waste of time, and a waste of lives!!! The only purpose it would serve is to secure JK a job with UN? Hey, it worked for Helen?
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