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White House says it might be weeks before President Obama makes that decision on a new strategy for Afghanistan - whether he ought to send in more troops or pursue some other plan. Of course the issue has divided Congress, commentators and Americans on the street. It's also, of course, an issue in Afghanistan. NPR's Jackie Northam spoke with some Afghans to get their thoughts about President Obama's upcoming decision. She filed this report from Kabul.
JACKIE NORTHAM: The day-to-day twists and turns of the discussion and debate in Washington may not resonate here. What has is the possibility of a major increase in the number of U.S. troops.
Mr. MOHAMMED IMAK: Forty thousand American troops in Afghanistan, it does make sense, you know, but I don't think it will be just the thing to solve the problem in Afghanistan.
NORTHAM: Mohammed Imak is a midlevel government worker in the northern city of Kunduz. He says it's good for the Obama administration to rethink what it's doing in Afghanistan. But he's not confident the U.S. will make the right decisions.
Imak says there have been a lot of mistakes made since American troops first invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. Imak says the U.S. should get a better sense of Afghanistan and its people before it comes up with new plans to bring security or help rebuild the country.
Mr. IMAK: They have to just have as exact perception of Afghan culture, Afghan people, Afghan ideas, until they're not completely (unintelligible) these things, you know, it's very difficult. Just bringing 40,000 troops and implementing more projects here, you know, that's nonsense, actually.
NORTHAM: Like other people NPR spoke with, Imak fears the U.S. will continue relying on the same Afghans who have given advice for the past few years -telling the U.S., he says, only what it wants to hear.
Poya Rashid runs a family bookshop located on a busy street in downtown Kabul and is a fourth-year student at Kabul University. Rashid said he and his friends worry the U.S. is dictating policies without consulting a wide variety of Afghans.
Mr. POYA RASHID: I think before sending troops, they should listen to what people want. We need other things. People don't have work. Just by sending troops can't be solved people's problem.
NORTHAM: Mahmoud Attay sells shoes from a very narrow shop in a busy downtown mall. He thinks it's better to have U.S. troops in Afghanistan than not and wouldn't mind if President Obama decides to send more. But Attay knows that comes with some risks.
Mr. MAHMOUD ATTAY: (Through translator) More troops create more problems. If the American soldiers patrol, there will be more suicide attacks. If the soldiers come, it's better they stay outside the cities, outside the crowded areas, because too many civilians will be killed.
NORTHAM: Attay thinks there is another option. He says the U.S. knows where the militants are located and could just target those locations without having to bring in a lot of extra ground troops. Attay says if he had an opportunity to speak to the president, he knows exactly what he would say.
Mr. ATTAY: (Through translator) I would tell him to solve the problem in a political way. And also, I know the president and his people are studying the situation in Afghanistan, but I would tell them don't waste too much time. As soon as possible, solve the problem of Afghanistan.
NORTHAM: Attay turns back to his shoe shop to help a customer, carrying on his business and waiting for the Obama administration to decide what it's going to do in Afghanistan.
Jackie Northam, NPR News, Kabul.
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