Parliamentarians differ on deal with US
KABUL (PAN): Some Afghan parliamentarians on Sunday supported the Loya Jirga's recommendations on the strategic cooperation pact with the US, but others insisted that American terms and conditions must be made public before the agreement was signed.
The four-day traditional assembly concluded on Saturday with the endorsement of the strategic cooperation agreement between the US and Afghanistan. In a 76-article declaration, the delegates backed the creation of American bases in the country for a decade.
Endorsing the agreement with the US was necessary for maintaining security and strengthening Afghanistan's economy, delegates at the four-day assembly said in the declaration, which underlined respect for the Afghan culture, traditions and religion.
Articles 2 and 3 of the non-binding declaration ask the US to respect Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and constitution. Nighttime operations should be conducted exclusively by Afghan forces, the statement added.
"I'm supportive of the pact, as long as Afghan National Army and police are unable to protect national borders," said Syed Ishaq Gilani, a legislator from southeastern Paktia province. The secrecy around the US government's terms represented a big question mark, he remarked.
Another lawmaker, Nasima Niazai, believed the pact did not undermine the Afghan constitution and tended to benefit the country. "Since Afghanistan is far from self-reliant, neighbours could easily mount pressure on it. In this context, the agreement is important."
Urging demands of the US should be publicised, a Wolesi Jirga member from northern Baghlan province, Syed Mansoor Naderi, warned interference from neighbouring countries would continue if the accord was not inked.
Ramazan Bashardost, a public representative from Kabul, said the pact should bring strategic benefits to the Afghan government. "It should end the war and the insurgency. It will be possible when Pakistan and Iran stop supporting terrorism."
If confined to assistance of a few billion dollars, delivery of F16 aircraft and training of some Afghan soldiers, the deal would not benefit Afghanistan, because Afghans did not have the capacity to fight against Iranian and Pakistan armies, he remarked.
"We want the US to maintain security, give us money, train our soldiers and prevent interference from our neighbours. But what the US wants from us in return should be made clear," said Abdul Hafiz Mansoor, a parliamentarian from Kabul.
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