Afghanistan unrest will not derail operations

Washington: The US today said that the wave of violence will not derail the war strategy in Afghanistan as deadly unrest in the turbulent nation has thrown spotlight on an uneasy partnership between NATO and Afghan forces.

The White House and the Pentagon reaffirmed that Washington was committed to complete security transition in Afghanistan by 2014 and determined to wipe out al-Qaeda and terrorism from the region.

The strong American reaffirmation of the mission in Afghanistan came as continuous waves of violence wracked the country, resulting in killing of American servicemen and advisers after the burning of the holy Quran at a military base.

"We have as an objective the stabilisation of the Afghan government to allow Afghanistan and its government the space and time to take over security of its own country. That process is well underway," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"The President has made clear that we are drawing down our forces in Afghanistan. We have been drawing down from the surge force level already, and will continue that process.

And he has made clear that we will turn over full security lead, to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. He will continue to have discussions with our NATO allies in this effort and our ISAF allies at the NATO summit in Chicago in May," he said.

Referring to rising attacks on NATO and US servicemen by Afghan forces, a Pentagon spokesman described them asV "isolated" incidents and predicted that the turmoil over the burning of the Quran would soon blow over.

But the American spokesman in Kabul said that American advisers working with different Afghan ministries, who have withdrawn following slaying of four of their colleagues, would return to their offices as soon as the situation improves. However, Navy Capt John Kirby told reporters that no timeline has been set for the advisers to return to work.

The Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen John Allen has made it clear that the advisers will go back into the ministries when is ready for them to go back.

Kriby said that Allen was in touch with the Interior and Defence Ministries about taking steps to improve security in the ministries. The spokesman in Kabul said that recent turmoil in Afghanistan had not impacted on the joint anti-terror operations and the work continues throughout the country.

The Pentagon said that it will not let recent violence lose sight of the progress and broader achievements in Afghanistan. "We will not let recent events allow us to lose sight of the progress we are making toward our broader objectives, including our core goal of defeating al-Qaida and its terrorist allies and denying it the ability to maintain a safe haven in Afghanistan," Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters.

The US appreciates the effort of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior leaders who have called for calm and an end to violent protests,` Little said. "We commend the hard work and sacrifice of the Afghan security forces who have suffered casualties attempting to quell the violence," he said.

But US media reports said that Commanders were increasingly concerned about the rising trend of "fratricide" in the past two years, with number of incidents of Afghan troops turning their weapons on their American and NATO counterparts.

The brazen shooting of two US advisers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry on Saturday and the killing of two US troops by an Afghan soldier has jolted the American command, media reports said. The shooting of the two US officers at the Interior Ministry prompted several NATO countries to pull their advisers out of Afghan government offices.