Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not a "credible local partner" for America to win the war against terrorism, a former US diplomat, who till recently was a top UN envoy to Kabul, said on Friday.
"President Obama should halt the surge in Afghanistan and initiate a partial withdrawal -- not as a means to pressure Karzai but because Karzai's government is incapable of becoming a credible local partner," Peter W Galbraith wrote in an article in The Washington Post.
He said the Obama administration should put the United States squarely on the side of democracy in Afghanistan.
"First, US officials should stop saying, as (White House Press Secretary Robert) Gibbs did Tuesday, that Karzai is in office as a result of legitimate democratic elections. Afghans know that is not true," said Galbraith, who served as the UN secretary general's deputy special representative to Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan can't hold parliamentary elections this fall unless other countries fund them. As Congress considers appropriations for the Afghanistan war, it should attach a rider making any US financial contribution to the parliamentary elections contingent on Afghanistan establishing genuinely independent election bodies that have no Karzai appointees."
"Karzai's decision this week to replace the head of the Independent Electoral Commission and the chief electoral officer are no comfort. As long as he appoints their successors, Karzai controls the electoral process, making a rerun of last year's fraud all but certain. As bad as it would be to not hold parliamentary elections, fraudulent elections could plunge Afghanistan into a civil war," Galbraith wrote.
Noting that the US troops can clear Taliban forces from an area, he said if the Taliban is to be kept away, US efforts must be followed by Afghan soldiers who can provide security and Afghan police who can provide law and order.
"Most important, an Afghan government must provide honest administration and win the loyalty of the population. Karzai's corrupt, ineffective and illegitimate government cannot win the loyalty of the population.
US troops do not have the credible Afghan partner that is essential for the success of Obama's counterinsurgency strategy. And because US troops cannot accomplish their mission in Afghanistan, it is a waste of military resources to have them there."