Stability key condition for BSA signing: Karzai
He once again sought from the US cast-iron guarantees of peace and stability in Afghanistan, the country’s economic development and equipment of its forces.
Negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) were suspended by the president after the opening of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar in June when the US announced plans for holding direct meetings with the group's representatives in Doha.
Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Karzai said his administration was moving carefully on the issue and would sign the agreement only if it protected Afghanistan’s interests. He indicated Kabul had reservations about the text of the accord.
“For this pact to be concluded, the US has to hold out substantive guarantees of stability in Afghanistan,” the president stressed, explaining a consultative loya jirga would be called to give its opinion on the agreement.
Asked how the US could guarantee a stable Afghanistan, he replied: “We are trying how to define a third-party aggression against Afghanistan that will warrant America’s support for our country. The BSA has such a clause…”
The president said there were other problems as well that the two sides were trying to sort out. However, he added: “Pending discussions on those issues, I can’t share details about them publicly.”
In response to a query about next year’s presidential ballot, Karzai suggested a straight contest between two candidates. He named Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and ex-finance minister Dr. Ashraf Ghani as possible candidates.
Barred by the constitution from running for a third term as head of state, Karzai said: "I desire we should have a limited number of candidates as this is good for the country. In the United States there were only two candidates.”
Regarding the life sentence awarded to a US soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, for gunning down 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province, the president said the verdict would not bring back the children and women killed.
A six-member military jury sentenced Bales, 40, to life in prison without the possibility of release on Friday over the 2012 shooting spree in Panjwai district. The president remarked: "A life sentence or a death sentence to him will not bring back our children that he killed."
The Afghan leader expressed optimism about his visit to Pakistan, set for Monday. He is expected to seek the release of more Afghan Taliban leaders from Pakistani jails and underline the need for Islamabad’s sincere role in facilitating the reconciliation process.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.