Signing of pact with US evokes mixed response
KABUL (PAN): Some Afghans believe the signing of the strategic cooperation pact with the US will help maintain peace and contain inference from neighbouring countries, but others are worried about their future.
Amid tight security arrangements, President Hamid Karzai and his American counterpart Barack Obama signed the much-awaited strategic partnership agreement at the Presidential Palace in Kabul late on Tuesday night.
Karzai welcomed his US counterpart and thanked him for his unannounced visit, saying: “With the signing of the agreement the chapter of the past 10 years will be closed and a new chapter of mutual relations will be opened. Our two independent countries start the relations on the basis of close friendship, mutual respect and commitments.”
Obama said: “The people of both countries have scarified over the past 10 years. We are not in favour of continuing the war and would end it with our joint efforts.
“International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward,” added Obama.
Afghans have mixed views about the long-delayed deal. Abdullah, 60, a resident of Taimani area, said: "It is good to sign the agreement … and I congratulate the people on it."
Over the past decade, America and other countries helped the Afghan government and people in areas of security and economic development, he added. "It is due to the foreign presence in Afghanistan that no country can interference in our affairs and Al Qaeda will fail.”
Mohammad Zaman, a resident of southeastern Khost province, believed the pact would prevent interference by neighbouring countries, something that led Afghanistan to destruction in the past. He asked the two sides to implement the agreement in letter and spirit.
"For one, I’m happy that the US will stay in Afghanistan for 10 more years and its presence will help Afghans," remarked Mohammad Yasin, who belongs central Maidan Wardak province. During the last 10 years, much had been done in terms of reconstruction and peace, he claimed.
Mullah Jan Shinwari, a former member of Nangarhar provincial council, is optimistic that Afghan forces would be trained and equipped to take the security responsibility across the country.
"The presence of foreign soldiers is in favour of our people," Ali Ahmad, a shopkeeper in central Bamyan province, said. Afghanistan needed to sign similar agreements with other countries as well, he thought.
A writer from northern Balkh province, Enayatullah Saroosh, dismissmed the impression that Afghanistan would come under US influence as a result of the accord. "It means the US and Afghanistan will work for strengthening bilateral relations."
Teacher Rahmatullah Afzali, from the southern province of Helmand, said that the signing of the pact had removed worries that the international fraternity would leave Afghanistan alone in 2014.
However, Mir Hussain, a resident of Char Qala-i-Wazirabad area, warned: "As long as Americans are in Afghanistan, there will be fighting. Whenever they leave, we will get rid of beggary."
Mohammad Jamshid, a dweller of southern Ghazni province, also sounded pessimistic about the agreement. "Despite promises, foreigners have failed to bring infrastructure development to the country over the past 10 years."
Maulvi Firozuddin, an cleric from Badakhshan, is unsure about the promises held out by the US. "There is no hope of outsiders staying committed to Afghanistan’s development and stability."
A worker of a private construction company in Laghman, Lotfullah, said: "I am not hopeful about the future. If the US had sincerely tried, it would have been able to restore peace in our country."
Mohammad Mohsin, a resident of northern Balkh province, said hours after the agreement was signed, bomb explosions rattled the heavily-fortified capital. He warned the situation would get messier in the days ahead.
Hailing from western Herat province, Zarmina said: "What the US had done since 2001 offers no cause for optimism over the next decade." She accused the international fraternity of failing to meet Afghans’ expectations.
The strategic agreement shall enter into force when the parties notify one another through diplomatic channels of the completion of their respective necessary internal legal requirements. It shall remain in force until the end of 2024.
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