20,000 foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan: Hussain
ISLAMABAD (PAN): Kabul and Washington are set to sign an agreement allowing 20,000 American and NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout of foreign combat soldiers from the war-torn country, a Pakistan lawmakers says.
Expected to be signed in the next two months, the pact would let the foreign forces troops to retain at least nine bases in different parts of Afghanistan, Senator Mushahid Hussain told a press conference in Islamabad.
On return from his three-day visit to Kabul, the legislator said the next round of talks with Kabul would be held in Islamabad after Afghanistan’s presidential election in April 2014.
The Senate Standing Committee on Defence agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Afghan government to institutionalise parliamentary dialogue. The two sides agreed that peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan were intertwined.
During the visit, members of the delegation met President Hamid Karzai, Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Karimi and ex-foreign minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
Hussain said the Pakistan embassy in Kabul was issuing 1,200 visas a day without charging any fee while 55,000 people crossed the border on a daily basis.
As part of a key initiative agreed, the Afghanistan- Pakistan People Friendship Association was launched. Senator Afrasiab Khattak has been chosen as president and Senator Jehangir Badar as secretary general of the body, which will organise a festival in Kabul from October 26 to 28.
Hussain called US withdrawal as the ‘biggest logistical exercise’ after World War II, as it would involve moving 750,000 pieces of armaments, ammunition, equipment and vehicles, worth $35 billion, out of Afghanistan.
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