Strategic pact with US excludes military bases: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Sunday said the proposed strategic pact with the United States would be signed ahead of the Chicago conference and after reaching an agreement on night raids, but the deal would not include creation of US military bases in Afghanistan.
Speaking at a gathering to mark the International Women’s Day in Kabul, Karzai said they would soon reach an agreement on night raids with the US, amid ongoing negotiations over the strategic deal.
His remarks come three days after Afghan and US officials struck a deal on the transfer of US-held detainees to Afghan government control, which has remained a sticking point in the strategic accord.
Washington on Friday said another agreement on night raid would soon be inked with Kabul.
Karzai said the general framework of the strategic agreement would be signed before the Chicago summit in May, however the deal has no mention of the US military bases.
The President said another year was required to discuss the establishment of US military bases in the country as it would give adequate time to allow both sides to evaluate their responsibilities.
“The issue would be addressed after its overall evaluation in order to ensure our interests are served,” he said
All foreign troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Karzai said, insisting the country would not face any economic crises after their withdrawal.
He said the US and NATO member states would continue to provide Afghanistan with $4.1 billion in aid each year to help maintain the armed forces until 2024. Karzai said they would procure equipment for the troops from other countries and the allies would not create any hurdle in this regard.
“We are cleverly going ahead with talks over the strategic pact to ensure it does not hurt our national sovereignty and the independence,” he said, asking people not to worry, instead encourage them to educate their children, the only way to develop Afghanistan.
Karzai once again defended the Ulema Council’s guideline on women, saying women would enjoy their rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
He called violence against women and forced marriage as anti-Islamic, and urged religious scholars and tribal elders to intensify their efforts to curb these anti-social practices. The President said women could achieve their rights and serve the country through education.
Women Affairs Minister Hussan Bano Ghazanfar told women to continue their struggle to protect their basic rights and asked the relevant departments to promote women’s rights.
A statement from the first lady, Zinat Karzai, was also read out at the ceremony that said celebrating women’s day was to respect them.
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