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Govt needs to begin PRT withdrawal now
The Government should be looking at ways to withdraw our forces in Afghanistan, as soon as possible, rather than concentrating on an arbitrary date, Green Party defence spokesperson Kennedy Graham said today.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman today set the date of April 2013 for the withdrawal of New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team from Bamiyan province in Afghanistan. The announcement follows the death of five members of the provincial reconstruction team in two separate incidents during August 2012.
"We owe it to those currently serving in Afghanistan to look at all the ways we can get them home safely and as soon as possible," said Dr Graham.
"New Zealand has made a significant commitment to Afghanistan and the people of Bamiyan.
"However the provincial reconstruction team was never intended to be a combat unit.
"Sadly, the role of those serving in the provincial reconstruction team now appears to be focused more and more on patrolling a dangerous part of Bamiyan province, where our troops are being drawn into counter insurgency operations.
"Becoming bogged down in a counter insurgency in Bamiyan is not in New Zealand or our soldiers' interests.
"The end of New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team's commitment to Afghanistan should coincide with looking for ways to assist Afghanistan in aid and development.
"The focus of the Key Government on continuing to provide military training to Afghanistan, following the provincial reconstruction team's withdrawal, is therefore of concern to the Green Party.
"There are many ways of assisting Afghanistan in a non-military capacity," Dr Graham said.
Subject: Peace and Conflict
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Green Party Parliamentary Office, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand
Green Party Parliamentary Office, Parliament Buildings, Wellington,