US lawmakers want night raids to go onBy Meer Agha Nasrat Samimi Feb 19, 2012 - 17:43
KABUL (PAN): An influential US senator, currently on a visit to Afghanistan, on Sunday said NATO-led forces should continue with nighttime raids that would not damage a strategic agreement cooperation agreement between the allies.
Senator John McCain, flanked by four other US lawmakers, told a news conference in Kabul they had met President Hamid Karzai and International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Gen. John Allen.
The raids were important in that 80 percent of militants were arrested during night operations, McCain said, adding Afghan forces had also been taking part in the night operations over the past 90 days. “Night raids are also important to cut causalities among the forces.”
Despite strong opposition from President Hamid Karzai, ISAF said two months ago that US-led forces would increasingly lead night raids. The force insisted that not a single shot was fired in 85 percent of such operations.
President Karzai strongly criticised an ISAF raid on the house of a senior counternarcotics official in southeastern Paktia province two months ago.
In response to a query, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, Lindsey Graham, also said the nighttime operations were important militarily. “Those opposing the raids must know they are hitting the militants hard.”
Graham suggested a mechanism for transferring the individuals detained during night raids to Afghan security forces. The US would talk to Afghan officials to ensure that detainees handed over to them were not released to resume attacks on foreign troops, he said.
With regard to the US-Taliban negotiations, he said the Obama administration was trying to reach a settlement with the militants on ending the bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Referring to the strategic cooperation pact, the senator asked the Taliban to realise the fact that the US would not abandon Afghanistan once again. The fighters, therefore, should take the dialogue seriously, he said.
The agreement was in the interest of both nations, he insisted, saying the strategic deal would pave the ground for US assistance to Afghanistan in political, security and economic fields.
McCain hoped the pact would be inked before the NATO summit, scheduled to be held in Chicago next month.