Italy, US urged to remain in Afghanistan
21 November 2013
Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi
ROME - If NATO troops leave Afghanistan when the ISAF mission ends in 2014, social progress will be set back by a decade and the country will turn into a second Iraq, Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi told Italian news agency ANSA.
MP Koofi explained the critical need for NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan during an interview on Wednesday when she visited Rome to receive a prize along with eight other women. She is the first female in Afghan history to be elected as a deputy speaker of the lower house of the National Assembly and is also running as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election. Her father, Abdul Rahman, was a former MP who was assassinated by the Mujahideens during the Soviet occupation.
NATO troops have been serving in Afghanistan since the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission began in 2001. The mission aims to train the Afghan army and police, while also offering security to humanitarian agencies in the war-torn country.
"If US troops leave when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ends in 2014, Afghanistan will turn into a second Iraq and the clock for women and the social rights we have conquered will turn back by at least a decade," MP Koofi said. "Afghan women have suffered terribly in the last few decades, and progress has been hard-won," she continued.
MP Koofi also explained the importance Italy has had in winning progress for women in Afghanistan. "Thanks to Italian aid programs, we have opened several female schools. Today just 20% of women can read and write, but we could reach equal literacy for both genders in the next 30-40 years," she explained.
When the mission ends in Dec. 2014, approximately 130,000 NATO troops are expected to leave Afghanistan.
Italian Defence Minister Mario Mauro announced in October that Italian forces will be reduced in 2013, but that the country will leave roughly 1,800 troops once the mission ends." After 2014, the Italian government intends to maintain its commitment to the country in terms of support and training for Afghan forces," Minister Mauro said.
Italy presently has around 4,000 troops in the ISAF mission, according to NATO figures. 84 Italian troops have been killed in the mission since 2002.