No pact signing until arbitrary acts end: Karzai
The president expressed these views in the wake of a coalition forces’ airstrike that killed an eight-year-old child in southern Helmand province.
The US-led international coalition in a statement said an investigation into the airstrike had been launched, saying it regrets any civilian casualties as a result of its airstrike.
President Hamid Karzai in a statement said if such incidents continue he will not sign the security deal with Washington.
He has already deferred signing the deal until his second and last term expires in April, but has not completely excluded the possibility of doing so.
While vehemently condemning the incident, Karzai telephoned Helmand Governor Naeem Baloch and directed him to extend all possible assistance to the victims’ families.
The Helmand governor said a Taliban commander and a child had been killed in the drone strike that also left two women injured in Faqirano village of Garmsir district.
“I extend my heart-felt sympathies to the families and loved ones of those killed or wounded. I pray that the Almighty grants courage to the bereaved families to bear the irreparable losses and early recovery to those injured,” the president added.
Meanwhile, The New York Times quoted an unnamed coalition official as saying NATO top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., made a late-night phone call to President Karzai on Thursday to apologize for the drone strike
“He talked to President Karzai directly, expressed deep regrets for the incident and any civilian casualties, and promised to convene an immediate joint investigation to determine all the facts of what happened,” the coalition spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.
Karzai vowed this week, at the conclusion of a loya jirga, or grand council, that he would cancel the security agreement completely if there was even one more raid that killed civilians. On Thursday, he said that in effect that moment had come.
The coalition spokesman confirmed that two drone incidents had taken place in Helmand on Thursday. The first, in Garmsir District, targeted an insurgent commander traveling on a motorcycle, but missed him and apparently hit civilians; one child was reported killed and two women were severely wounded.
The targeted man fled on foot and was killed by a later drone strike. In the second incident, in Nawa Barak Sai District nearby, another drone strike killed a single insurgent target and caused no civilian casualties, the spokesman said.
“Neither of the strikes were directed at a house or hit a house,” he said. The civilian victims were apparently nearby on the road where the first attack took place. The drones were military, but in keeping with its standard practice, the coalition did not identify which country they belonged to. Both the United States and Britain are believed to have drones operating in Helmand Province.
Karzai, in a statement posted on the president’s website on Thursday night, said that a NATO drone strike on a house in Faqiran had killed at least one child and wounded two women on Thursday morning.
“This attack shows that American forces do not respect the lives and security of the people of Afghanistan and the loya jirga decision,” Karzai said. “For years, our people are being killed and their houses are being destroyed under the pretext of the war on terror.”
In a text message on Friday morning, Aimal Faizi, the president’s spokesman, said, “It makes very difficult for the president to authorize the signing of BSA.”
“Zero is not an option for us,” the American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, told a public meeting in the city of Herat on Wednesday. “It could be a consequence of decisions that your government takes or doesn’t take.”
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