South Asia

McChrystal fired: Afghans react

Image caption McChrystal was fired after mocking top US officials

The top US military commander in Afghanistan Gen Stanley McChrystal has been sacked by Barack Obama after he mocked top officials in a magazine article.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville says President Karzai and other Afghan leaders are not happy with the sacking. Here, ordinary Afghans reflect on the move.

KHALIK BAREGZAI, 34, RICE DEALER, SPIN BOLDAK BORDER, AFGHANISTAN

Gen McChrystal was doing a very good job. We should look at his success and achievements.

I know that generals have been sacked before in American history - General MacArthur was sacked in 1951 for being critical of President Truman.

But the western media should not have focused on a few words that he said. These words are not important compared to the hard work he was doing in Afghanistan.

McChrystal had a good strategy for the country and for the south in particular. This was a strategy that Obama agreed to - and it must not change.

I totally support the Nato troops and pay tribute to the soldiers and the hard job they are doing.

But I am afraid that foreign forces are too focussed on leaving the country in 2011. This latest incident doesn't help.

We are afraid that if Nato leaves then the Taliban, or al-Qaeda or other extremists will come back. I live on the border with Afghanistan so I know about extremism in this region.

HAMID OMERZAD, 27, POLITICAL ANALYST, EAST AFGHANISTAN

I think President Obama has lost both his sense and his perspective in his actions. He was too quick to show his anger, which shows he is still young and immature.

General McChrystal was a good diplomat, he had a deep understanding of the Afghanistan situation and of our customs and traditions. He was the only top US envoy to respect Afghans and was working in close collaboration with them to come up with a solution to the current situation.

He built strong relationships with the overall government of Afghanistan and high ranking authorities, both civilian and military, even with President Karzai.

He brought enormous change, and he tried his best and somehow succeeded to decrease civilian casualties to the minimum number.

He was direct but not unprofessional. He was not like Ambassador Eikenberry who doesn't speak like a good diplomat. During last year's election, he was acting and talking like Afghanistan was occupied by the US.

If President Obama wants to succeed in Afghanistan and to have good and strong relations with Afghanistan, it would have been better to have fired Eikenberry instead of Gen McChrystal.

AHMAD JAN, 24, PROCUREMENT OFFICER FOR COMMUNICATION COMPANY, KANDAHAR

The people in Kandahar are not happy with the decision by the US to sack Gen McChrystal.

It could take a lot of time for the new general to understand the serious situation here, especially in this part of the country with which Gen McChrystal was so familiar.

One of his most visible achievements was the reduction in the killings of innocent people who were targeted during night air strikes.

He was the only general who was concerned about the fact that the Pashtun tribe was given less authority in the Afghan government compared to other tribes. He was the first general to have held his office for more than a year for the last eight years.

Most of the US and Nato figures don't spend much time in meetings with local people. Gen McChrystal was the only one who became well known to local people. When he came to Kandahar, with President Karzai, he took part in many meetings.

Surely his removal will impact the up-coming operation in Kandahar? But I don't think it will have an effect on the Nato operations in other parts of Afghanistan.

People in Kandahar would have felt more confident if he was still in charge. I heard the head of the provincial council here in Kandahar saying this as well.

SIDDIQULLAH BARIKZAI, 31, UNIVERSITY LECTURER KABUL

The Afghan people really loved McChrystal for his great work. I think he was the only American "big boss" who had a good relationship with Karzai.

People were glad he went to areas like Kandahar and Helmand. He visited people's homes accompanied by Afghan soldiers. He seemed to be a good listener who had sympathy for the Afghan people.

Right now the security situation is getting worse day by day. Even in Kabul we lack security.

Firing McChrystal at such a sensitive time - when the Taliban are getting stronger and the offensive in Kandahar is beginning - will have a negative impact on the war.

Since McChrystal came to Afghanistan he has made a positive difference. He has also worked to reduce civilian casualties.

General Petraeus does have a lot of experience. He did a good job in Iraq. But will he receive similar support from the Afghan people and President Karzai? And there will be a lot more pressure on him because of the security situation, and the political pressure to leave in 2011.

I hope Petraeus continues to listen to the Afghan people and works to limit civilian casualties.

In the end we are all tired of being pessimistic, so we hope the security situation will improve in the future.