Wolesi Jirga not consulted on talks with US
KABUL (PAN): Some members of the Wolesi Jirga -- or lower house of parliament -- said on Saturday blasted the government for failing to consult lawmakers on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States.
Eklil Hakimi, the Afghan ambassador in Washington, and James Warlick, deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, led representatives from the two sides during the first round of negotiations in Kabul on Thursday.
Speaker Abdur Rauf Ibrahimi had instructed commissions on internal security, defence and international affairs to set the agenda for discussions on the issue, but the government did not consult parliament, said the international affairs commission head, Noor Akbari.
Another lawmaker, Qurban Ali Irfani, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Wolesi Jirga had no representation at the negotiations, expected to last several months. Elected public representatives’ opinion was in the national interest, he said.
Since the agreement is vital to Afghanistan’s future security, the government should have sought parliamentarians’ views, according to a woman MP, Shinkai Karokhel. She asked lawmakers to follow the issue seriously.
Irfani believed the lower house should debate the prosecution of US soldiers by Afghan courts if they violated local customs and traditions.
Earlier in the week, President Hamid Karzai’s Chief of Staff Abdul Karim Khurram called the pact more important than the Strategic Cooperation Agreement. “The government plans elaborate consultations on the subject at institutional and parliamentary levels.”
The legislature has a key role in agreements signed with foreign countries by the government, according to the official, who said: “We have six months for talks on the accord -- a time long enough for consultations with stakeholders. And this could well be extended.”
Under the Afghan-US strategic deal signed in May 2012, the security pact has to be concluded within a year, which means September 2013.
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