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    Secrecy around US terms for strategic deal queried

    KABUL (PAN): The secrecy surrounding US conditions for a strategic cooperation deal with Afghanistan amounts to a violation of Loya Jirga's participants to know details of the pact, Kabul-based political analysts said on Friday.

    As it entered a third day, the traditional tribal assembly started a debate on a mechanism for peace negotiations with Afghan insurgents. 

    A spokeswoman for the Loya Jirga, Safia Siddiqui, told a press conference a day earlier that the United States did not want its conditions and terms mentioned in the strategic agreement to be released to the media.

    Many participants, who were not provided with the requisite information, objected to the US decision to keep secret its terms and conditions.

    Political observer and a participant of the gathering, Ustad Habibullah Rafi, told Pajhwok Afghan News they had not been given any information about the US conditions for the agreement that would allow American troops to remain for a long time in Afghanistan.

    He added only a paper was read out on the second day and the participants were asked to debate the agreement. "Yesterday, there was a general discussion, with attendees seeking complete information."

    However, organisers did not provide them with the US terms, he said, calling the move a violation of the attendees' right. Rafi warned signing of the accord by the Afghan government would in no way mean that jirga members supported the move.

    Another political analyst, Dr. Khushal Rohi, said it was the right of participants to know the US conditions. Since their inception, the jirga proceedings have been lacking transparency and all steps, including the election of the chairman, were taken in an undemocratic manner.

    "The US is afraid of its regional and international allies, therefore, it wants the conditions to be kept under wraps," he remarked, suggesting the Loya Jirga should outline its own conditions for the agreement.

    But Afghanistan's Regional Studies Centre head, Abdul Ghafoor Lewal, said the jirga had only an advisory role in finalising the draft. After being finalised, the draft would be referred to Parliament for approval, he concluded.

    ma/mud



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