Most jirga committees want deal inked in 6 weeks
KABUL (PAN): The consultative Loya Jirga on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States entered its final day on Sunday, when almost all 50 committee heads recommended the pact should be signed withing six weeks.
Najiba Hussaini, the committee number 3 chairperson, called for signing the agreement, shaping a US military presence in post-2014 Afghanistan, called for signing the deal before the 2014 presidential elections.
However, she stressed US military personnel must be prevented from proselytising in the deeply Muslim country after 2014, when the NATO-led combat mission is scheduled to end.
Committee No 1 head Rahim Lewal emphasised on respect for the country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and traditions. He suggested prosecution of foreign troops involved in offenses in Afghanistan at the Bagram airbase. This will enable victims to attend trials.
Nisar Ahmad Musadqi, committee number 8 chief, expected the US military would continue to do all it could to stabilise Afghanistan and avoid repeating past mistakes.
Committee No. 4 also overwhelmingly all articles of the BSA text, urging its approval by the parliament and signing by President Hamid Karzai. It demanded award of US military contracts to Afghan firms.
Dr. Amarkhel, committee number 7 head, lent his weight to the accord. He also underlined the need for inking the deal as early as possible.
Most committee chiefs, while urging protection of the core national interest and a more focused war on terrorism, said the BSA should be wrapped up as soon as possible. They wanted the president to evince a personal interest in signing and implementation of the accord.
Many committee heads sought protection of the environment, avoidance of the use and storage of chemical weapons in the country and the Afghan Air Force (AAF) reinforcement, as well as transfer of Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Afghan authorities.
They also called for safeguarding Afghanistan's historical sites, clearly defining terrorism and promoting Afghan products. The agreement must strengthen peace and stability in the long-suffering country.
The consultative Loya Jirga released a resolution containing 31 articles. The second article clarified members of the consultative Loya Jirga supported the BSA with the US.
On Saturday, most of the Loya Jirga members, including Sibghatullah Mujaddadi, chairman, said they had agreed on jurisdiction of US troops. They proposed that if an American committed any crime inside Afghanistan, he/she would be tried in the US; however, representatives from Afghanistan should observe the trial there.
The chairman and some members urged Karzai to sign the deal before the 2014 elections after its approval by the parliament.
But the president has said if rectified by the Loya Jirga and approved by the parliament, the deal would not be signed until after the presidential election in April.
Being attended by 2,500 delegates, the grand assembly is widely expected to approve the pact later in the day. The forum suggested changes to certain articles and clauses.
In his address to the inaugural session on Thursday, Karzai said the deal would not be signed until after the presidential election in April. His statement drew a strong reaction US Secretary of State John Kerry, who slammed the call for delay as unacceptable.
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