Top senators rap Karzai on US presence
WASHINGTON (PAN): Top American senators on Thursday lashed out at President Hamid Karzai's recent statements, saying the ball was firmly in his court on an American military presence in the country post 2014.
“President Karzai must now decide whether his government is willing to accept a longer-term US troop presence by coming back to the negotiating table with acceptable terms,” Senator Robert Menendez said at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
“The ball is in his court, but he and the Afghan people should understand that if we fail to reach an agreement, it will not be for lack of trying on America's end,” remarked Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez asked Karzai not to think that the question of a post-2014 US presence in Afghanistan was of simply leverage for him. “If he does, then he is sadly mistaken,” warned the senator.
“President Karzai should understand in clear terms that his legacy of leaving behind a stable Afghanistan that is supported by the international community will be in serious jeopardy with a flawed election outcome,” he added.
Senator Bob Corker, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was even tougher toward Karzai. He has just returned from a visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Karzai is the most frustrating world leader we've probably dealt with in a long time. He is irrational. It's hard to believe that he believes the things that he believes. But, he truly believes today that we are in cahoots with Pakistan, and trying to destabilise the country,” Corker said.
“The reason he does is, because he knows of the first fact that I just mentioned that we've known here in this committee for a long time. I think he believes there are some people within the administration that because of previous political issues almost want Afghanistan to fail. I don't. He's a strange person,” the Senator said.
He believed the US had helped create the kind of relationship with him since no one at the administration would talk with him about some of the questions he had asked about American support to him personally.
“We have helped create a monster here. I know that we have a tough and difficult and frustrating person to deal with on this bilateral agreement, but I hope that this administration is not going to personalise it,” the senator remarked.
“I know that Karzai has embarrassed the president publicly by talking about the fact that he believes that he is working with Pakistan to destabilise the country, and I know that we have a lot of problems with Karzai."
Corker asked the Obama administration to look beyond Karzai.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.