Afghan-US deal on Bagram prison control inked
Gen. John R. Allen, the American military commander, and Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defence minister, signed the agreement at a ceremony in Kabul in the afternoon.
On the occasion, Wardak said a new commander of the prison would soon be nominated to complete the transition in six months.
“The US has promised providing technical and logistic support to Afghanistan for one year to run the jail’s administration,” he said, adding another agreement on the night raids would also be signed in the near future.
He said the agreement on night raids would see all their conditions for the proposed strategic agreement with the US were endorsed.
Gen. John Allen called the agreement on the prisons control as an important part of the security transition and the strategic agreement.
The Kabul government earlier this month said it would not ink the proposed strategic agreement as long as recommendations of the traditional Loya Jirga were not implemented.
In mid-November, the grand assembly recommended the signing of the pact that allows the creation of American bases in the country for a decade. However, the delegates set certain conditions, including respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and an end to night raids by foreign forces.
A spokesman for the Afghan President has said the Afghan people and government reserved the right to set conditions for the agreement. It is a long-term pact, which needs to be signed after thorough deliberations, Aimal Faizi, has said.
The issue has threatened to derail the long-term partnership between the two countries. They are in negotiations to formalise a role for US forces after NATO's scheduled transfer of security responsibility to Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Karzai set Friday as the deadline for handover of control of the Parwan detention facility that holds about 3,000 detainees, most of them suspected insurgents.
The US previously handed over responsibility for a few hundred detainees there but said the Afghan government was not ready to take over running the entire detention centre.
Under the agreement, the United States agreed to hand over detainees to Afghan government control on a far more accelerated schedule than planned.
The detention issue had been one of two major sticking points in negotiations for the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries, with President Hamid Karzai insisting on immediate Afghan control of the detainees, and American officials originally favouring a gradual transition until 2014.
American officials were concerned about premature release of Taliban suspects, and also the human rights abuses prevalent in many Afghan prisons.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker in a statement said he was pleased that the United States and Afghanistan had signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the transfer of US detention facilities in Afghan territory to Afghanistan.
“This MOU illustrates our commitment to Afghan sovereignty, our mutual obligations under international law, and our enduring partnership as we move forward to completing the transition of control of Afghanistan’s security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014,” the US envoy said.
“As President Obama said on Tuesday, we are making sure this transition is not abrupt, but a path marked by benchmarks and steps that build Afghan capacity and a partnership with Afghan security forces that is needed to accomplish our overall goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and ensure that Afghanistan can never again become a safe haven for terrorists.”
Crocker said they have had challenges and there would be challenges ahead as they continued negotiations on the framework for their strategic partnership. “But this MOU marks an important step forward,” he concluded.
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