Assembly endorses accord with recommendations
KABUL (PAN): The consultative Loya Jirga on Sunday overwhelmingly approved the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington by issuing a 31-aritcle declaration that asked the US to set up courts at its bases in the country to try American troops accused of committing crimes in Afghanistan.
On the final day of the four-day gathering of tribal leaders and politicians divided into 50 committees, featuring 2,500 delegates, officials read out the declaration. Each committee submitted its list of proposed revisions and clarifications to the draft agreement.
After four days of deliberations, the tribal forum endorsed the agreement that allows the US to keep 5,000 to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after NATO forces withdraw next year.
Former president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, who chaired the four-day session, said it was in Afghanistan’s vital national interest to have a partnership with the United State. A majority of the delegates revolted against President Karzai’s plan to delay the signing of the agreement until after the elections in April.
Mujaddedi said President Karzai should promise them that he would sign the agreement as soon as possible.
“Peace, security and a transparent election are pre-conditions for signing,” Karzai said. “If peace doesn’t come, elections go wrong, then we will lose the country.”
The forum’s deputy chairpersons, Sher Mohammad Akhunzada and Fazl Karim Aimaq, read out the resolution that asked Karzai to sign the deal before the end of this year. The resolution called for the draft agreement to be sent to the parliament within the next few weeks.
The elders asked the US to ensure it accorded a special respect to Islam and Afghan culture and traditions under the agreement that should be valid for a decade among two sovereign states having equal rights in terms of sovereignty.
The Afghan government and the international community, in particular the US, should jointly work for the arrangement of an inclusive intra-Afghan peace dialogue that could restore peace and stability in the country, the resolution stressed.
The jirga suggested the addition of a paragraph to the BSA’s article 26th that could guarantee practical steps for achieving peace and stability in the whole of Afghanistan from the parties.
It said American personnel accused of committing crimes should be tried in the presence of Afghan observers under a simple and implementable mechanism. “But the US cannot run under any circumstance a jail in Afghanistan or control a prison.”
The resolution said a clear policy should be adopted on the US use of Afghan airspace, asking contractual US civilians, having no links with the US military, to pay taxes in line with the Afghan law.
The jirga also called for an early preparation of a list detailing diplomatic, political, military and economic efforts to be made in response to any foreign aggression against Afghanistan.
There should be a complete ban on the use of chemical weapons in Afghanistan and the government should prevent chemical waste dumping.
The Consultative Loya Jirga wanted 19 Afghan prisoners languishing in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba turned over to Afghan custody.
In a statement, US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham praised the council's action. “I am gratified that the Loya Jirga, which represents the Afghan people, overwhelmingly offered support for the Bilateral Security Agreement and asked President Karzai to sign it by the end of next month,” he said in a statement.
“The participants in the Jirga spoke eloquently about the partnership between Afghanistan and the United States, and their belief that the agreement will make Afghanistan’s future more secure.”
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