Defence Secretary Liam Fox was upbeat over the long-term prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan, following the military handover in Helmand province earlier this week.
"Funnily enough, we weren't entirely sure who was who at the official ceremony, what with all that strange headscarf nonsense and of course they all do look much of a muchness" chuckled the former G.P. "but it soon became clear who was in charge and, of course, we were delighted to hand over the keys to the Land Rover and a complete set of defence plans."
"As with Northern Ireland, we will shortly be seeing here the effects of the peace dividend. Indeed the new Area Commander has assured me that he will be able to assist in my aim of reducing the overall number of Army personnel."
Derek Johnston, Mr Fox's special adviser, later added "It goes much deeper than just the military dimension. For example, there has been a chronic shortage of school places over many years, particularly for girls. We have now been given a solemn assurance that this will very soon be a thing of the past; with an anticipated surplus of places for female students within a matter of weeks. That's the advantage of grass roots developments. Projects locally managed by local people - a fine example of the Big Society in action and one which we could learn from and see replicated near to home."