Hassina Sherjan: U.S. Needs to Stay in Afghanistan Another '15, 20 Years'

Hassina Sherjan in New York on June 23, 2011.

Obama's Afghanistan troop drawdown timetable announced Wednesday drew critics from both ends of the political spectrum: some Democrats are saying that the president should "bring more troops home sooner and faster," while a number of Republicans say that Obama's plan would endanger our mission in preventing a Taliban reclaiming of Afghanistan (Gen. David Patraeus himself has said the plan was "more aggressive" than the military had recommended).

But in an interview with Asia Society, Hassina Sherjan, co author of Toughing It Out in Afghanistan and president of Aid Afghanistan for Education, said that success against the Taliban is less about military presence and troop count and more about social problem-solving and nation building in Afghanistan:

I believe that if we focus in real development, nation building—like the way Germany was built after WWI—and focus on creating jobs and educating people, we won't have to worry about the Taliban... I think once the people know that there's a government, we will move forward, we have education for our children, we have health care, we have jobs, we have food, the people of Afghanistan will protect Afghanistan. We will not need troops, or military, in Afghanistan.

What sort of timetable does Sherjan have in mind for Afghanistan?

"I think putting a timeline will in fact we set us up for failure... It's very difficult to put a timeline in situations that you aren't 100% sure, its not in your hands," she said. "For me, another 15, 20 years?"

Video: Hassina Sherjan on the U.S. role in Afghanistan. (5 min., 32 sec.)