NATO ‘losing’ fight in Afghanistan NATO has “lost” its military campaign in Afghanistan, a former UN envoy warned Thursday, as Britain’s prime minister met his Afghan counterpart and coalition defense ministers struggled with strategies in the war-ravaged country.




Former UN High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown warned major instability was inevitable in the region if resurgent Islamic extremists gained the upper hand.

“We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely,” Ashdown told British newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

He said the implications for losing in Afghanistan were worse than losing in Iraq.

“It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite-Sunni regional war on a grand scale,” Ashdown said, comparing its potential scale to that of World War I or II.

But a NATO spokesman said he was baffled by Ashdown’s comments.

“I couldn’t begin to understand what he’s talking about,” James Appathurai told CNN.

“We are firmly committed to this, we feel we’re on the right track, and we’re going to keep going. There is no doubt.”

U.S. commanders also believe NATO is winning in Afghanistan, but victory will still take years and requires a long-term commitment of more troops and equipment.

On Thursday Gordon Brown and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met at Downing Street in London.

At a press conference Karzai called for continued commitment from the international community, but added he wants to gradually give more responsibility to the Afghan people.

“Is it time to leave Afghanistan? No. Is it time to add more responsibility to the Afghan people? Yes,” Karzai said.

“While that commitment by the international community is necessary and important, we must also concentrate on reducing the burden from the international community and adding more of that to the shoulders of Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

Brown called for greater “burden sharing” in the battle against the Taliban.

“We have got the Taliban on the defensive by the combined efforts of everyone,” he said.

“We are all determined that Afghanistan should never become a failed state again, and to support the democracy that’s been created in that country.”

But he added the long-term solutions in the country, which was controlled by the hardline militia for five years until it was ousted in late 2001 by a U.S.-led military coalition, could not rely on defense and security only.

“The military effort must be complemented by the diplomatic effort and the development work that’s being done,” he said.

His comments come as NATO defense ministers meet in the Netherlands in an attempt to call for more troops to step up the fight against the Taliban.

On Wednesday diplomats said nine of the 26 NATO nations had made new troop offers, the Associated Press reported.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was not satisfied with the numbers, although the response had been “more positive” than he had anticipated.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said while there had been offers from some nations, more troops were still needed.

“We have 90 percent filled of what we need, but … there are still shortages,” he told a press conference.

The new troop offers are expected to be confirmed next month.

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