The British Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand province has recently been handed over to the provincial government – another sign of Afghan’s taking control of their own affairs.
British officials from the PRT are returning to their own homes. The buildings they once occupied now accommodate Afghan officials and advisors.
On a historic day for Afghans and guests alike, Afghan officials formally took charge of the PRT operation. “I want to express my profound thanks to the international community,” said Helmand Governor, Haji Muhammad Naeem. “The work the PRT has done is invaluable. It is my wish we continue as brothers and sisters.”
For the past eight years, the International Security Assistance Force had maintained a constant presence in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Lashkar Gah, Helmand. They comprised a mix of soldiers, diplomats and specialised civilian advisors, from many backgrounds and nationalities.
All these honoured guests have shared a common desire to help Afghanistan. Over the years, unbreakable bonds of friendship have been forged in the joint effort to support and nurture the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
To reciprocate Governor Naeem’s gratitude, Belinda Lewis, head of Mission at the PRT, assured Afghanistan that Great Britain will remain side-by-side with Afghanistan. “Although our buildings have been transferred, we will continue to help,” she said. “We have committed another US$180 million to strengthening Afghan security forces and executing re-construction projects.”
Eight years ago, many institutions lay in ruins from the dark days of the past. Now, Helmandis live in freedom, kept safe by our own security forces, led by our own democratically elected officials, travelling on newly built roads and enjoying the trappings of modern life – from mobile phones to new factories.
The Governor’s view was mirrored by other important guests. “I have really appreciated the help of our British mentors,” said Helmand police commander, Brigadier Mohammad Hakim Angar. “The years of support we have received has enabled our own officers to train to take over the lead. We now run our own security affairs.”
It has been an amazing journey of success; a journey which will continue, now to be led by Afghans.