No rush to sign BSA, polls on schedule: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): If the United States does not hold out the guarantees sought by his administration, it will have to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the new Afghan government, President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday.
Addressing a youth conference in Kabul on elections, BSA and the peace process, he billed the security pact as an important issue for the country. If his conditions were met, the accord would be in Afghanistan’s interest, he said.
“It’s for this reason that we have been studying constantly and minutely the content of this agreement; we have been discussing it and have conveyed them our terms,” the president said, indicating he was in no rush to sign the deal.
Cast-iron guarantees of peace and stability, the country’s economic development and equipping its forces, as well as respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty were listed as Kabul’s major conditions for signing the pact.
He made clear America’s demand for military bases would not be accepted if Afghanistan’s security remained under threat. “We don’t want bases that are safe but fires rage around them. We are trying to win security guarantee from the US.”
Respect for the country’s sovereignty was a key demand, he reiterated, stressing American bases must not violate Afghan traditions. He wanted occupants of the bases to live like tenants in remote corners of the country.
“We have been in talks with the US under very clear circumstances and that’s why the pact signing has been delayed…we’re trying to conclude it during the current month,” he said, adding the Americans wanted to wrap it up in haste.
“It’s not necessary that I myself should ink the deal; it could be done by my successor. Whoever signs it must have the nation’s support, because no government can ram its own decision down the people’s throat,” he continued.
Barred by the constitution from running for a third term as head of state, Karzai said a consultative loya jirga would be called to give its opinion on the pact once the two sides concluded talks. The forum should accept the deal only if it was acceptable, he maintained.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the US and Afghanistan had held two rounds of talks on the BSA in Kabul since the negotiations were suspended earlier in the year.
National Security Advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Security Transition Commission head Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Irshad Ahmadi, deputy foreign minister, represented the Afghan side.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Joseph F. Dunford headed the US team at unofficial talks on the security agreement.
The upcoming presidential election, slated for April 2014, would be held on schedule in a transparent and inclusive manner, the president promised. "We are determined to hold free, fair and transparent presidential and provincial council elections."
Efforts must be put in place to hold the polls on time, he said, underlining security for the important national event. “Even with incomplete security, we must hold the elections, because it is very important and putting off the process would be problematic."
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