Page last updated at 05:05 GMT, Sunday, 8 November 2009

Paper calls for UK's Afghan exit

Soldier in Afghanistan
The paper said the conflict was not in the "British interest"

The Independent on Sunday has become the first UK national newspaper to call for British troops to quit Afghanistan.

The front page of the paper's Remembrance Sunday edition carries the headline: "Time to Leave".

In an editorial, it says: "It is time to say that this war is ill-conceived, unwinnable and counterproductive".

Editor John Mullin said that the paper had decided that "enough is enough" in the wake of what he called Afghanistan's "failed election".

'Conflicting aims'

The paper, whose circulation in September was reported as 125,232, devotes its first seven pages to the conflict.

In its leader, it says withdrawal would be "a British decision in the British interest".

We must start to plan now for a phased withdrawal
John Mullin
Editor, Independent on Sunday

Mr Mullin added: "We've been there eight years, we've made very, very limited progress.

"We've gone through a series of very conflicting aims of what the war is about from right at the outset.

"We're not saying we come out tomorrow - but what we are saying is we must start to plan now for a phased withdrawal, and for talks and attempts at a political solution to this situation."

The paper's decision comes as a survey for the BBC's Politics Show found 64% of Britons believe the war is "unwinnable", up from 58% in July.

The senior UK commander in Afghanistan, Lt Gen Jim Dutton, admitted in an interview for the programme that "collectively we have not been as good at explaining" the mission.

So far, 95 UK service personnel have been killed in 2009 - the highest toll in a single year since the Falklands campaign 27 years ago.

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