View from Kabul

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Anchor Marco Wermans finds out how General McChrystal's controversial comments are going down in Kabul from the BBC's Daoud Azami in the Afghan capital.

MARCO WERMAN: General McChrystal also got support today from the President of Afghanistan. A spokesman for Hamid Karzai said the Afghan leader considers McChrystal to be the best commander the U.S. has sent to Afghanistan since 2001. But many Afghans say the General's remarks betray a deeper concern with U.S. policy toward their country. Daoud Azami runs the BBC's Pashtun Service in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

DAOUD AZAMI: Many Afghans have told me that State Department in the U.S. has a different policy for Afghanistan and Pentagon has a different policy of Afghanistan. And they have quoted several media statements given by different U.S. officials from State Department and Pentagon. But the main concern that Afghans have had for several years is that there is a lack of coordination and the comments by General McChrystal's aides have proved the concerns of many Afghans who have been saying that there is a lack of coordination and misunderstanding.

WERMAN: So it sounds like for a lot of Afghans, this story is kind of a snooze. But don't Afghans care if the American General in charge of the operation in Afghanistan is effectively being called to the Principal's office for a scolding; going back to the White House to see the President, his Commander in Chief?

AZAMI: It's not a big surprise, I think, but it is important because 2010 is a very important year for Afghanistan for several reasons. The U.S. and NATO forces are planning to start operations in Kandahar Province in the south of Afghanistan and this is in a way, the hub of the Taliban insurgents. So General McChrystal visited Kandahar Province several times over the past few months and he was in a way, overseeing these operations. But if he has been summoned to Washington and nobody knows what will happen to him. So this is, in a way, - - for many Afghans who have been waiting for so long to see things improve in the country. And if he is replaced with another General, then it will take the new General a lot of time to get familiar with the Afghan society and the situation in Afghanistan because many people in Afghanistan say about McChrystal that he has been very active and he is trying to improve the situation.

WERMAN: Daoud, at a very practical level, do most Afghans even know about the story? How are most Afghans let's say in Kabul, consuming news these days?

AZAMI: Yes, many Afghans, I would say most of the Afghans know about this story because since this morning, local media has been covering the story in several languages. Television stations and radio stations are leading with this news that General McChrystal or his aides have made these comments about President Obama and other officials in Washington D.C. and now he has been summoned to Washington.

WERMAN: Daoud, today General McChrystal issued an apology saying that the profile in Rolling Stone was "a mistake reflecting poor judgment and it should never have happened." I guess I want to know, do Afghans think General McChrystal needed to apologize?

AZAMI: I think they would say yes because he said some things that should not have been said, at least in public. But now as he has apologized for the comments made earlier, many of them say that while there's democracy there's freedom of speech and they should finish this saga very soon. That's what many Afghans say.

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