NZ withdraws PRT from Afghanistan

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

The New Zealand flag has been lowered for the final time at Kiwibase in Bamiyan marking the official close of the Provincial Reconstruction Team and this country’s 10-year involvement with it.

The United States and Malaysian flag, representing other nations in the PRT, were also lowered leaving the Afghan flag flying alone. …

At the flag-lowering ceremony Governor-General Jerry Mateparae said the final “crib 21” rotation could now start the 13,000km trip home.

“You leave a legacy of which you can be proud.”

Sir Jerry read out the names of the 10 Kiwi soldiers who died in Afghanistan: Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell, Private Kirifi Mila, Corporal Dougie Grant, Lance Corporal Leon Smith, Corporal Dougie Hughes, Lance Corporal Rory Malone, Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris.

He said they had come to resists tyranny, promote democratic values and bring peace to troubled lands. …

Nato’s deputy senior civilian Andrew Steinfeld, who arrived with other official in a fleet of Black Hawk helicopters just before the event, thanked the PRT for its effectiveness. It had helped make big improvements in health outcomes, especially for children and had lifted the number of girls going to school.

He said it was appropriate Afghanistan now take the lead, but it would not have to do so alone.

Bamiyan Governor Habiba Sarabi thanked Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman for the PRT’s “remarkable service” and said the withdrawal should not indicate the end of the friendship and support of New Zealand but expected “a more sustainable friendship and … continued humanitarian support”.

New Zealand will continue to support two “legacy” aid projects including agriculture and the establishment of three solar powered generators that will start coming on stream in May and provide power for 2500 users in business, government buildings and residents.

Afghanistan is never going to turn into a post-war Germany or Japan. But life is way way better for the ordinary Afghani since the fall of Taliban, especially for women.

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