US President Barack Obama has warned against a hasty Afghan pullout, days after a poll showed that majority of Americans want a rapid withdrawal of their troops from the war-torn country.
“It is important for us to make sure that we get out in a responsible way, so that we don’t end up having to go back in,” Obama said on Monday.
He added that the US has “got to make sure that the Afghans can protect their borders to prevent Al Qaeda coming back.”
US-led forces are currently scheduled to leave Afghanistan and hand over security operations to the Afghan army by the end of 2014
Obama’s comments came two days after a survey conducted by the ABC News
and The Washington Post
revealed that Americans’ “overall views of the war in Afghanistan are in the pits.”
As many as 60 percent viewed the costs of the war as exceeding its worth and 54 percent wanted US forces to withdraw even if the Afghan army lacked the ability to carry on the fight.
Meanwhile, anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan have risen to unprecedented heights following the desecration of the Holy Qur’an in a US-run military air base last month and the recent massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children, by US soldiers in Kandahar.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have been a major source of tension between Kabul and Washington.
The United Nations announced on February 4 that 2011 was the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians killed in US-led attacks. The death toll rose eight percent compared to the year before and was roughly double the figure for 2007.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan was launched in 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.