NATO has lost in Afghanistan and failure to bring stability there could trigger a regional sectarian war, the former international envoy to Bosnia Hercegovina said in comments published today.
‘We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely,’ Paddy Ashdown told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, warning that the implications of failure were wider than in Iraq.
‘I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq,’ added the British politician, who has been tipped for a role as a United Nations ‘super 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.
‘Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated’ if the international community failed to get on top of the violence in the country.
Ashdown’s comments came as NATO defence ministers met in the Netherlands, with alliance members being pressed to send more troops to bolster the existing International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Some NATO members, particularly the United States and Britain, have complained that they are unfairly shouldering the burden of security and counter-insurgency operations.
Recent press reports suggested that Ashdown was being sounded out for a role as an international coordinator for Afghanistan, with the United States said to be keen, but the British politician denied the reports.
Ashdown, a former leader of Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party, was the international community’s High Representative in Bosnia between May 2002 and January 2005.