KABUL — The Afghan government says it is taking the lead from the US-led coalition for providing security in areas that will eventually make up 75 percent of the country’s population.
Ashraf Ghani, who is head of a commission overseeing the transition to Afghan-led security, announced Sunday a list of areas where Afghan forces will take the lead from foreign troops. He said this stage, the third in the transition process, should be complete in about six months.
Earlier stages put Afghans in control of areas representing 50 percent of Afghanistan’s population of more than 30 million.
The transition process is a key part of NATO’s exit strategy from Afghanistan. The fifth and last stage is to be completed by the end of 2014 — when most foreign combat troops will leave.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the move.
“The completion of transition at the end of 2014 will mark the end of NATO’s combat role, but not the end of our engagement,” he said in a statement. “NATO is committed to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, and to providing the training which the Afghan forces will still need, beyond 2014.”
Top peace negotiator shot dead
A senior member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and close adviser to President Hamid Karzai was shot dead from a passing car in Kabul Sunday, a security official and his family said.
Arsala Rahmani, a former minister in the Taliban regime, was a “key negotiator” in the council established by Karzai to hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents, the official said. “Shortly after leaving home he was hit by a single bullet from a passing car. The bullet passed through his left arm and hit his heart,” Rahmani’s grandson Mohammad Waris said. “He died in the hospital.”
The Taliban threatened earlier this month to target members of the HPC as part of their “spring offensive”. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, however, denied involvement in Sunday’s assassination. — Agencies