Zero option sending bad vibes to Afghans: Saleh
“President Hamid Karzai is an individual whose government will last another nine months; the US is trying to find excuses for pushing the so-called zero option,” the former National Directorate of Security head alleged.
The importance of Afghanistan as a country was far higher than political parties and individuals, he observed, cautioning: “The zero option, if it comes to pass, will send a negative message to Afghans and would strengthen our common enemies.”
On Friday, a White House spokesman explained that having no troops on the ground in Afghanistan was not the preferred choice for the Obama administration.
“We do have an enduring commitment to Afghanistan. And whether we have a residual force there or not, that commitment will continue. The commitment will continue through our Strategic Partnership Agreement," Jay Carney said.
He added the commitment to Afghanistan would continue through a security relationship which would involve US efforts to continue to go after the remnants of Al-Qaida in the region and to help train and equip the Afghan security forces.
“The question of whether or not there's a residual US troop presence is something we have to negotiate with the Afghan government. We're not going to make a promise about a residual force if we haven't negotiated the circumstances of that with Afghanistan…,” he insisted.
Carney said no decision had been made on the number of troops in Afghanistan post 2014 and it was not coming soon. “I'm not saying that's the preferred option; I'm just saying to suggest otherwise would be to make assumptions about negotiations that have not reached a conclusion.”
For his part, Saleh urged the Obama administration to look at the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), withdrawal of troops, the residual force after 2014 and other such issues from a broader prospective.
He stressed any US decision in this regard must be driven by political pragmatism, maturity, security interests of the two sides and regional stability.
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