Karzai seeking immunity for himself: analysts
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai's call for a Loya Jirga, a grand assembly of political and community leaders, to decide on immunity for US troops under Afghan law is to absolve himself of responsibility for future consequences of any decision on the issue.
On Monday, Karzai told reporters in Kabul on his return from a three-day visit to Washington that his talks with the Americans had gone well, but the Afghan people had to decide on the status of US troops staying in the country after 2014.
His suggestion to convene the grand assembly came after the White House last week raised the possibility of a complete pullout of US troops from Afghanistan. During the trip, both sides negotiated, keeping a reduced size of American troops in Afghanistan after a formal end to NATO’s combat mission in December 2014.
In his first public remarks after returning home, Karzai said the Loya jirga should decide on a key component of the negotiations – immunity for American soldiers.
"Loya Jirga is an advice-giving body, but calling it into session seems to be impossible because district council members are yet to be elected," believed a political science lecturer at Kabul University, Prof. Wadir Sapi.
Under the Constitution, the Loya Jirga is the highest manifestation of the will of the people of Afghanistan. Members of parliament, provincial and district councils, ministers, chief justice, other Supreme Court judges and the attorney general participate in its without having a right to vote.
“The president will impose his own decision on the participants to shift responsibility for future consequences to them. He is actually seeking immunity for himself," the lecturer remarked. He believed Karzai fearing his own prosecution by the Afghans wanted the decision to be taken by the elders.
US President Barack Obama on Friday told a joint press conference with Karzai that he would not consider a US troop presence to train Afghan forces and hunt Al Qaida without an immunity agreement. Failure to negotiate immunity led to a complete US pullout from Iraq in 2011.
The last Loya Jirga, convened in November 2011, approved a strategic partnership pact between Afghanistan and the United States.
According to Sapi, Karzai knows well his administration is corrupt and weak. The president feared a complete US troop pullout would leave his fragile government fighting for survival against powerful armed outfits.
Another analyst, Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, held a similar view about Karzai's call for the Loya Jirga, saying the president was trying to steer clear of future repercussions. "He wants shift the blame to others," Haqyar said.
Another Kabul University teacher, Mohammad Naseh, said the Loya Jirga could not be called into session until district council members were elected. Participants of the proposed consultative assembly would present their recommendations to the president, but their enforcement would not be considered as a must.
"An advisory jirga lacks legal authority; it only offers advice,” said a member of the Academy of Sciences, Ahmad Azizi, who added the president and parliament were empowered to decide on key issues of national importance.
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