Strategic deal being scrutinised: Karzai
“When foreign troops withdraw, the country’s defence will be your responsibility,” the president told a graduation ceremony at the National Military Academy in Kabul.
Afghan security forces might not be currently capable of defending their country, but after two or three decades, they would have the ability, Karzai told the gathering.
“Afghanistan can buy mortars, tanks and helicopters on credit, but there is a need for experts to use this equipment. They have been training the security personnel over the past few years,” he added.
After 2014, for the next 10 years until 2024, the US-led international community would pay Afghan security forces $4.1 billion (202.1 billion afghanis) annually, he said.
One day, he hoped, Afghanistan would be able to fund the salaries of its forces that needed radars, air defence systems, warplanes, transport aircraft, helicopters and other equipment.
If the US and its allies did not cooperate, Karzai said, he would discuss the issue of equipping Afghan soldiers and the purchase of military equipment with other countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan and India.
About the strategic partnership agreement with the US, Karzai said: "We are thoroughly discussing the pact and if it’s in Afghanistan’s interest, we will sign it.”
With his administration scrutinising every detail of the accord, Karzai promised to ensure the deal being negotiated would respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty. "We are taking a magnifying glass in our hand and looking into the minute details.”
The long-awaited accord would be signed either before or at the NATO Summit to be held in Chicago in May, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
"We are committed to a long-term productive and mutually beneficial partnership with the government and people of Afghanistan,” she told reporters at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.
Officials say 595 soldiers have graduated from the academy over the last three years, including 273 in 2011. The academy, which started functioning seven years back, works in the framework of the defence ministry.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.