Strategic deal likely before Chicago summit: Faizi
Kabul and Washington have signed deals on transferring the responsibility for nighttime operations and control of US-run detention facilities across the country to Afghan authorities.
“Both issues which obstructed the strategic accord have been resolved,” Aimal Faizi told a joint press conference with defence ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi in Kabul.
The agreement on the ticklish issue of nighttime raids gives Afghan forces the lead role in the special operations, a critical security responsibility in Afghanistan.
After the signing ceremony, Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters: “This (deal) is an important step in strengthening Afghanistan’s sovereignty.” He said it had been a longtime desire of the nation that the raids be controlled by Afghans.
In Washington, the Pentagon said on Monday there was a paradigm shift in how night operations would be conducted in Afghanistan.
Last month, the agreement on transferring the main US detention facility in Parwan to the Kabul government was reached. It was another major sticking point in negotiations over the long-term US-Afghan partnership.
The two issues threatened to derail talks on formalising a role for US forces after NATO's scheduled transfer of the security responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.
President Hamid Karzai recently said his government would not enter the strategic cooperation deal with the US until foreign troops stopped night raids on civilian houses.
“The MoU on special operations is a great achievement for the incumbent government,” Faizi said, calling NATO-led night raids violative of the Afghan constitution and laws.
He said the agreement restricted foreign troops from entering civilian houses and Afghan forces from warrantless searches. Under the agreement, civilians will not be intimidated by forces.
Faizi said “substantive discussions” had been ongoing with the US government on the strategic deal after the MoU on prisons in March.
The draft agreement would be finalised ahead of the Chicago summit and the document would serve as a guarantee from aid-giving countries of continued assistance to Afghanistan, Faizi added.
According to Azimi, from now on, night operations will be led by the Afghan Special Operations Unit, which will have veto over the raids. “The force will have the authority whether or not to conduct a night operation.”
Gen. Azimi said Afghan forces were able to carry out all types of operations, with the special unit having undergone necessary training for two years. The unit has taken part in several nighttime operations with foreign troops.
For example, he said, the special unit last night conducted successful operations in Helmand, Kandahar and Faryab provinces.
He hoped Afghnanising night operations would play a key role in minimising civilian casualties because local security personnel could be punished for wrongdoings.
Ahead of the Chicago summit, he said defence and interior ministers left for the US two days ago to discuss financial assistance to Afghan forces beyond 2014.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.