Kabul (AFP) – Afghans met Donald Trump’s pledge to keep American
boots on the ground with hope Tuesday, praising his criticism of
Pakistan’s role in the grinding conflict which is exacting a
heavy toll on civilians .
The US president cleared the way late Monday for thousands more
troops to be deployed in the war-torn country, backtracking on
his promise to end America’s longest war.
The move ignited optimism among war-weary Afghans — despite
fears voiced by analysts that the decision could see record
civilian casualties rise even further.
“I am very hopeful that his strategy will bring changes to the
situation in Afghanistan,” Abdul Hamid Sufoot told AFP in the
northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
“At least the commitment to stay in Afghanistan will give
assurances to Afghans that they will not fall into the hands of
“I am very optimistic. Trump’s speech was very strong,” said
Mohammad Hussain Rahimi, a university student in the eastern city
In his first address to the US public as commander-in-chief,
Trump ruled out a “rapid exit” from Afghanistan nearly 16 years
after the war began, but gave few other details.
However it was his blunt criticism of Pakistan for offering safe
haven to “agents of chaos” that drew the strongest praise from
Afghans across the country.
“Agree or disagree with the man, but finally someone who
understands Pakistan’s double game in Afghanistan,” Murtaza Omary
wrote on Facebook in one typical comment.
Afghanistan has long accused its neighbour Pakistan of
bankrolling and training Taliban militants and sending them
across its border to destablise the country — charges Islamabad
Consecutive US administrations have also criticised Pakistan, and
on Monday Trump signalled enough was enough, warning Islamabad
that vital aid would be cut if it continued “housing the very
terrorists that we are fighting”.
“The pressure on Pakistan… is a key issue,” journalist Tawab
Mohmand told AFP in Kabul. “If they close terrorists’ safe zones
in Pakistan it will widely affect the activities of the
terrorists in Afghanistan.”
Some Afghans suggested the reasons for the conflict were more
complex than Pakistan’s meddling, however, with corruption and a
weak government contributing to the chaos.
“Afghanistan’s government has to use this golden opportunity, of
(the) world’s paying attention to this country once again, and
bring necessary reforms in its all institutions,” said university
lecturer Jawed Aziz in Kabul.
Still others were less optimistic about the prospect of more
troops ending the protracted war anytime soon.
The cost to civilians could be terrible, analysts have said.
Ordinary Afghans have already paid a heavy price for the US-led
war, with civilian deaths at their worst since records began in
“Trump’s strategy shows the war in Afghanistan may go on
indefinitely,” a Twitter user wrote.