Karzai: NATO's military assistance to Afghan forces "not enough"
President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that NATO military assistance in supplying his country's forces was not enough in the face of the Taliban insurgency, DPA reported.
"We are not happy with the equipment that has been given to the national army of Afghanistan so far," Karzai told reporters in his fortified presidential palace.
"We think this is not enough for our forces."
Karzai's comments came after the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal at the weekend where the alliance approved a plan by the Afghan government to transfer security responsibility for the country to domestic forces by the end of 2014.
The president said that for the Afghan army and police to come out on top in combat operations, they need modern military gear. He said his government recently turned down aircraft offered by a NATO country that were not practical in mountainous Afghanistan.
"If our NATO allies don't provide us with this equipment, then Afghanistan has the freedom to gain this equipment from other places," Karzai said.
Karzai has recently had testy relations with NATO countries, especially the United States which provides two-thirds of the 150,000 foreign troops based in Afghanistan. The president's close relations with Iran, Washington's archrival in the region, have been criticized in the West.
Afghanistan's ties with Russia have also dramatically improved in recent years. Karzai is scheduled to visit Moscow in January, where he is expected to request aid for the Afghan air force.
The president also called on his people to be ready to defend the country against terrorism as NATO countries are scheduled to begin the drawdown of their forces from July next year.
"The Afghan national army has to take the responsibility for the protection of this country," he said.
"It is not good for us to continue to rely on other countries to defend our country."
Karzai said Afghanistan would not descend into chaos after the NATO forces end their combat mission in 2014.
"The NATO presence in Afghanistan will continue after 2014 as an ally and this is good for Afghanistan. This is good for the security of Afghanistan and the region," he added.