LONDON (AFP) — Britain called Thursday for more "burden-sharing" in Afghanistan where an international force is struggling against Taliban insurgents.
The call from Prime Minister Gordon Brown came as one top politician said NATO had already lost in Afghanistan.
Speaking after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and as NATO ministers met in the Netherlands to scrape together more forces, Brown said it was time for the international community to spread the load of stopping Afghanistan falling back into the hands of the Taliban.
Britain has the second-biggest troop deployment in Afghanistan after the United States and is engaged in much of the fiercest fighting against Taliban militia.
Some in Britain and elsewhere have expressed frustration at countries that do not take part in frontline fighting against the Taliban.
"I firmly believe that burden-sharing has got to become very much part of our strategy for Afghanistan in the future," Brown told reporters at his Downing Street office after talks with Karzai.
"We have had the Taliban on the defensive by the combined efforts of everyone. The form of our strategy for the future is development, defence and diplomacy, all three working together.
"We are all determined that Afghanistan should never become a failed state again. We want to see the burden-sharing amongst the different countries that have an interest in stopping the Taliban.
And he added: "I believe over the next few months we can move to a better situation where the long-term future is best guaranteed by a better system of burden-sharing for the future."
Karzai said the joint efforts of the international community and the Afghan government had led to "magnificent" progress, and stressed that his country was ready to take on more responsibility.
"We must also concentrate on reducing the burden from the international community and adding more of that to the shoulders of Afghanistan," he added.
"Is it time to leave Afghanistan? No. Is it time to add more responsibility to the Afghan people? Yes."
He also stressed he would not talk to members of Al-Qaeda or terrorist networks in a bid to halt the insurgency.
However, the door remained open for those who renounce violence and who accept the Afghan constitution and "to live in peace."
"We are not speaking of reconciliation in any manner with terrorist networks. The terrorist networks must be fought," he insisted.
The talks came after Paddy Ashdown, the former international envoy to Bosnia-Hercegovina, said NATO had lost in Afghanistan and failure to bring stability there could trigger a regional sectarian war.
"We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq," added the politician, who has been tipped for a role as a UN envoy to Afghanistan.
"It will mean Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite-Sunni war on a grand scale."
Britain's top military officer said improving security in Afghanistan could only be done by political, rather than military, means.
"There is a common misperception that the issues in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere around the world, can be dealt with by military means. That's a false perception," Air Chief Marshall Jock Stirrup, the chief of defence staff, told Sky News television.
"The military is a key, an essential element in dealing with those problems, but by and large these problems can only be resolved politically."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »