Kabul upbeat as Karzai plans to visit Pakistan
KABUL (PAN): The contents of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States are more important in terms of safeguarding the interests of both nations than setting deadlines for its conclusion, a foreign ministry official said on Sunday.
On July 23, a top US military official called for signing the security pact by October. Talks on the pact, providing for an American military presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 pullout of foreign troops, were suspended last month.
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman told reporters in Kabul the BSA negotiations would resume and the pact would be signed sooner rather than later. Gen. Martin Dempsey called for the rapid conclusion of BSA to pave the ground for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan.
Addressing a weekly news conference in Kabul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “To the Afghan government, a timeframe for signing the pact is not imperative. The deal’s contents, quality and guarantees are important for us.”
Janan Musazai reiterated the government’s stance, saying Afghanistan would ink the agreement only when its conditions were accepted and interests protected. He added BSA negotiations would resume whenever President Karzai issued orders to the effect.
When finalised, the BSA text would be placed before a Loya Jirga for consideration and a decision, the spokesman said, adding the deal -- if signed -- would take effect from 2015.
In response to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s invitation, President Karzai would visit Islamabad in the near future, he announced, without giving specific dates. The two sides are currently firming up the agenda of the trip.
He said the government in Kabul was confident the travel, unlike past trips, would yield concrete results and the neighbouring country would sincerely cooperate with the Afghan-led reconciliation process.
“Over the past decade, Afghanistan had honestly tried to improve ties with Pakistan and create an atmosphere of trust. Regrettably, however, we didn’t achieve the results that we expected or were possible,” the spokesman observed.
The Nawaz Sharif administration would try its level best to open a new chapter of cooperation with Afghanistan during Karzai’s visit, hoped Musazai, who acknowledged that Islamabad could play a key role in promoting the peace drive.
He urged Pakistan to release the top Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and enable them to come to the negotiating table. The spokesman believed Islamabad could persuade the Taliban to enter parleys with the Afghan government.
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