Connect to share and comment

Ismail Khan, Afghan mujahedeen commander, calls on followers to fight against Taliban

Ismail Khan, a powerful mujahedeen commander, issued a call to arms against the Taliban as Western troops planned their withdrawal.

Ismail khan afghanistan mujahedeen talibanEnlarge
Ismail Khan, an Afghan minister of energy and water, but also one of the country's most powerful mujahedeen commanders, called on his followers to organize and defend the country against the Taliban after Western forces withdraw. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Ismail Khan, one of the most powerful warlords and mujahedeen commanders in Afghanistan, called on his followers to defend the country against the Taliban as Western forces prepared to withdraw.

The New York Times reported that the call to arms was a public demonstration of faltering confidence in the national government and the Afghan National Army.

Khan, who fought against the Soviets and the Taliban and was appointed to President Hamid Karzai's cabinet, told his followers, "We are responsible for maintaining security in our country and not letting Afghanistan be destroyed again."

The Times said he tried not to frame his call to arms as a defiance of the government, saying, "There are parts of the country where the government forces cannot operate, and in such areas the locals should step forward, take arms and defend the country."

Khan's call to arms stoked fears that other regional leaders could follow suit, weakening the central government and increasing the chance of civil war in Afghanistan.

More on GlobalPost: Abu Qatada released on bail as UK vows to pursue extradition

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the options for the size and scope of the US military's role in Afghanistan after 2014 would be completed in a few weeks, according to Bloomberg.

The options are based on the roles US troops will play, including counterterrorism, training, advising and assisting, Panetta said.

Currently, there are 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, as part of the more than 100,000 NATO troops. The bulk of those troops will withdraw by 2014, as promised by President Barack Obama.

According to Reuters, India will assist in training the Afghan police and military after a request from Karzai on Monday.

India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid responded to queries about the security program, saying, "We do want to expand that as required and wished by Afghanistan. We will respond."

To date, a few hundred police and army officers have benefited from the program, which allowed Afghan officers to receive training in India.

More on GlobalPost: David Petraeus sex scandal envelops US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/121113/ismail-khan-afghan-mujahedeen-commander-calls-