Delegates set conditions for American bases
The grand tribal assembly on the strategic cooperation agreement with the US and setting up a mechanism for peace dialogue with Afghan militants entered the second day on Thursday.
The second day's proceedings began with the creation of dozens of committees, which will debate the pros and cons of the agreement at the Polytechnic Institute.
Forty bodies were set up to discuss political, economic and military aspects of the deal. Copies of the draft agreement were distributed to jirga members on the opening day.
Members will submit their written recommendations to committee heads. The suggestions will be thoroughly studied by the jirga chairman and participants before being signed.
A representative of the nomadic Kochi tribe, Ahmada Gul Kochi, told Pajhwok Afghan News establishment of the US bases be linked to an end to night raid and house searches. He also called for closing down US-controlled prisons in the country.
The bases would help improve the security situation in addition to fuelling Afghanistan's economic growth, he believed. "Currently mired in complex problems, Afghanistan needs strong national unity," the participant said.
Another member, Gul Badshah Majidi, also favoured the conditional creation of American military centres. He wanted the proposed bases to be set up away from airports and residential areas.
"If Americans plan to use our airports as bases, they should provide an alternative for us," Majidi remarked, hoping the deal would strengthen the war-hit country economically and politically.
He suggested the US bases be set up in border areas to prevent terrorists' infiltration into the country. "Afghanistan has been forced by neighbours' undue interference into signing the strategic agreement with the US," he continued.
Amanullah Kamrani, a representative from southern Ghazni province, opined Washington must be asked for political, social, economic and military assistance in return for the bases. He also urged a timeframe for the military centres.
A day earlier, President Hamid Karzai told participants of the Loya Jirga that Afghanistan's relationship with the US would be one between two independent countries, saying he wanted national sovereignty to be protected at all costs.
Karzai hinted at Afghanistan's willingness to sign the agreement with the US, but it must stop night raids and building parallel institutions in the country. The president assuaged neighbours' concerns over the deal and said Afghanistan saw its national interests in having good relations with them.
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