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'Set a flexible timetable for Afghan withdrawal'

world Updated: Apr 09, 2010 13:21 IST

Three influential Congressmen, including two from the ruling Democratic Party, on Friday asked US President Barack Obama to set a flexible timetable to remove troops from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy for the region.

The letter from the three Senators, Russ Feingold, Jim McGovern (both Democrat) and Republican Walter Jones, comes in the wake of the fresh strain of relationship between the Obama Administration and the Hamid Karzai Government.

The bipartisan group of legislators suggested that "rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda's global network".

We are very concerned that the United States' military strategy in Afghanistan is not in our best national security interest and makes us dependent upon an unreliable partner in the Afghan government, as recent events highlight," the letter said.

Observing that an open-ended, military-centric nation-building campaign in Afghanistan is risky and not necessary to protect the United States, and it undercuts its ability to pursue al Qaeda's global network, the three lawmakers expressed concern that it may increase instability in Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan -- where al Qaeda's leadership is located -- at the expense of other approaches that could conserve both lives and resources.

"In this light, we urge you to set a flexible timetable for removing US troops from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy for the region," the letter said.

Noting that borrowing tens of billions of dollars to pay for military operations in Afghanistan has implications not only for its broader national security needs, but also here at home, particularly given current record deficits, high unemployment and proposed reductions in domestic spending; the three lawmakers said America's domestic priorities, as well as its ability to address effectively its security needs, have suffered from this diversion of funds and resources.