Unfortunately, our national police and army, while present in Kapisa, are unable to provide good security for people. —Tahira Mujadedi
KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan lawmaker has sharply criticized France's plans to hand over security in her troubled province to Afghan troops within a few months, saying that her country's forces are unprepared to handle the job and more violence would result.
Tahira Mujadedi, a member of parliament from Kapisa province, also criticized France's decision to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan early.
She said Saturday that it would be "a big mistake" for President Hamid Karzai to back a French proposal to speed up the overall NATO timetable for handing all combat operations to Afghan forces to 2013, a year earlier than now planned.
Mujadedi argued that Afghan forces in Kapisa are not ready to go it alone in fighting the Taliban insurgency, which is especially strong in several of the province's districts. She warned that if NATO forces pull back from Kapisa, it could also destabilize nearby Kabul, the Afghan capital.
"We have had so many attacks, ambushes and also suicide attacks in Kapisa," Mujadedi said. "Unfortunately, our national police and army, while present in Kapisa, are unable to provide good security for people."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday after a meeting with Karzai in Paris that French troops would speed up their withdrawal plans and leave the country by the end of next year, instead of by 2014. He said that Afghan forces would take over responsibility for Kapisa from French forces there by the end of March.
The decision calls into question the unity of the U.S.-led coalition force in Afghanistan.
Sarkozy also said that he and Karzai had agreed to propose withdrawing all international forces by 2013 at a NATO meeting next month. Sarkozy said Paris has informed the U.S. of its plan and he would call President Barack Obama about it Saturday.
The early withdrawal announcements came after four unarmed French troops were shot dead Jan. 20 at a base in Kapisa province, just east of the capital of Kabul, by an Afghan soldier suspected of being a Taliban infiltrator.
Karzai's office confirmed in a statement Saturday that responsibility for Kapisa's security would be transferred from NATO troops to Afghan forces by the end of March at Sarkozy's request.
The NATO coalition has started to hand over security in several areas of Afghanistan, aiming to transfer about half of the country in the coming months. But Kapisa was not on the current list of provinces to be handed over in the coming months, according to U.S. Navy Lt. James McCue, a spokesman for the international force.
Kapisa said that France should not leave the Afghan mission early because of its soldiers' deaths, arguing that such incidents happen in war.
"When military forces are present in a war zone, anything can happen," she said. The French troops "are not here for a holiday," she added.
But the killing of the unarmed French troops by a Afghan soldier whom they were training has deepened discontent with the Afghan war in France, where Sarkozy is facing a tough election this year. France has about 3,600 troops in the international force, which is mostly made up of American troops.
A sense of mission fatigue has been growing among some European contributors to the 10-year allied intervention in Afghanistan. The new idea floated by Sarkozy to withdrawal all NATO troops by the end of next year would accelerate a gradual drawdown that Obama has planned to see through until the end of 2014.
France's announcement could step up pressure in other European governments like Britain, Italy and Germany, which also have important roles in Afghanistan — even if the U.S. has the lion's share by far.
Karzai, who praised the role of France and other NATO allies, didn't object at Friday's joint news conference when Sarkozy said the 2013 NATO withdrawal timetable was sought by the two countries.
But the Afghan leader appeared to suggest that it was a high-end target.
"Yes, Mr. President, it is right that Afghanistan has to provide for its own security and for the protection of its own people, and for the provision of law and order," Karzai said.
"We hope to finish the transition — to complete this transition of authority to the Afghan forces, to the Afghan government, by the end of 2013 at the earliest — or by the latest as has been agreed upon — by the end of 2014," Karzai said.