Elders want Karzai’s decision enforcedBy Hakim Basharat Feb 26, 2013 - 19:48
KABUL (PAN): More than 2,000 tribal elders and influential figures on Tuesday threw their weight behind President Karzai's decision on giving US Special Forces two weeks to leave central Maidan Wardak province.
Participants of a huge gathering in Maidan Shahr, the provincial capital, vowed full confidence in Karzai’s leadership and calling for the enforcement of his decision on the withdrawal of American forces.
Karzai ordered the US special forces out of the province, a strategic western gateway to Kabul, after hearing numerous allegations from residents about human rights abuses by the Afghan working with the US troops.
There were allegations of intimidating, torturing and even killing residents, raising concerns about a possible backlash against the government.
Deputy provincial council head, Hazrat Mohammad Jan told Pajhwok Afghan News participants of the gathering were unanimous in their call of action on Kazai's demand. The public representative warned of "widespread protests" from residents if US troops did not leave within the deadline.
He said influential figures, including former jihadi commanders, religious scholars and tribal elders coming all the way from Maidan Shahr, Chak, Syedabad, Daimirdad, Jaghatu, Behsud, Jalriz and Narkh districts were in attendance.
Jan said the gathering also asked defence, interior ministries, the spy service and the security council to pay heed to the security situation in the said towns.
The gathering later turned to a peaceful protest, asking the US Special Forces to leave the province.
The rally issued a declaration, saying they strongly condemned torturing residents, blowing up their homes, killing their cattle and causing damages to their properties and belongings by forces. They sought punishment for troops involved.
The governor's spokesman, Attaullah Khugyani, said if implemented, the move would help narrow the gap between the government and the people of Maidan Wardak.