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EU-MPs back wider role for Europeans in Afghanistan

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BRUSSELS: Members of the European Parliament have called for the European Union to play a much greater political role in conflict-wracked Afghanistan. The lawmakers overwhelmingly endorsed a report urging far greater coordination among institutions involved in reconstructing the war-torn country. “In Afghanistan, the EU is primarily known as a humanitarian organisation, but there is also a need for the EU to be seen as having a much greater political influence,” said the report.

“A major strengthening of political will and commitment is necessary.” “This should be followed up not only by a willingness to provide additional combat troops in the most difficult areas, unrestricted by national caveats, but also by urgent and reinforced civil reconstruction efforts.”

The parliament said it supported NATO’s efforts to improve security in the country “and tackle local and international terrorism.” The presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan is “essential to ensure the country’s future,” the report continued. “Afghanistan’s security problems are more complex than just a war on terror and therefore they require more than a military solution,” the report admitted.

The report called on the US government to abandon its policy of eradicating the Afghan opium crop, which represents the only legal livelihood for many people. A report published in April by New York University argued that attempts to wipe out opium production disproportionately harms impoverished farmers and can drive them to side with the Taliban.

EU lawmakers in the report also urged “a clear demarcation between military and humanitarian action that should be maintained.” The report blamed tense relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan for “much of the region’s instability,” calling for a “comprehensive policy towards both states.” The report pinpointed financial and technical support to local reconciliation projects and media freedom as areas that are crucial to rebuilding Afghanistan and ending a “culture of violence.”

It expressed particular concern about the rising number of attacks on journalists and called on the Afghan authorities to seriously investigate these violations. EU parliamentarians adopted the report by 423 votes in favour, 74 against and 73 abstentions.

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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