Incident raises questions about NZ role in Afghanistan   27 Oct 2013

New Zealand Government

Phil GOFF

Defence Spokesperson

27 October 2013                                           

MEDIA STATEMENT

Incident raises questions about NZ role in Afghanistan

The wounding of a New Zealand soldier in Afghanistan highlights the growing risk of our involvement in what has become a civil war, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff.

“The war in Afghanistan today is predominantly a fight between the majority Pashtun Taleban and the Karzai regime, rather than a war against al Qaeda-led international terrorism.

“When the Afghan National Army recruits, it has no idea where the real sympathies of a recruit lie.  Increasingly with the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan planned for next year, there will be more and more people who swing their allegiance to the side that seems most likely to win.

“Insider fire has become an increasing problem for allied forces training the ANA with recruits turning their weapons on those who are training them.  It may be the result of a personal slight in some instances.  More often it will be Taleban sympathisers infiltrated into the ANA.

“Thankfully the New Zealand and Australian soldiers in this instance were only lightly wounded and we wish them a speedy recovery.

“However, the incident could have been much worse and it raises real questions as to the wisdom and the usefulness of keeping New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan in this role.

“A Labour-led Government would look to withdraw them”, Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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