Karzai stance on security deal unaffected: Faizi
KABUL (PAN): Presidential spokesman on Tuesday said some government officials could possibility be opposed to President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a security agreement with the US, but the disagreement has no impact on the presidential stance.
President Karzai last week refused to sign the US troop status accord while addressing the Loya Jirga in Kabul. The tribal assembly has urged the president to sign the pact within next six or seven weeks.
But Karzai says the US should guarantee peaceful elections, end to raids on Afghan homes and pave the way for formal talks with the Taliban, otherwise he said his successor, to be chosen in the April elections, should sign the deal.
US and NATO officials a day earlier warned President Karzai he must sign the accord or risk future international aid for his country.
Aimal Faizi, the presidential spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) had both supporters and opponents at home and abroad.
He said some government officials might have been opposed to President Karzai’s vision, but his and the Afghan people’s stance on the deal remained known.
Earlier New York Times in a report quoted Atiqullah Baryalai, a former deputy defense minister in the Karzai government, as saying “His (Karzai) entire Cabinet is against him on this (BSA.”
“The only ones with him are his spokesman and a few in his inner circle like Khurram,” he added, referring to Karzai’s chief of staff, Abdul Karim Khurram.
At the president’s cabinet meeting last Monday, Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal went through a detailed analysis of what Afghanistan had to lose financially.
“We need international support,” Zakhilwal said he reminded the cabinet. “Without that, we would not have been here. Our security, every element of government development, depends on it.”
Aimal Faizi said the President offered two proposals to US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who was in Kabul last week, and asked her to share them with American officials.
He said the president had sought practical measures from the US on ending raids on Afghan homes and initiating formal talks with the Taliban. Faizi said the US response to the proposals was still awaited.
“We don’t say the peace must come in a month’s time, which is not possible, but we want practical steps from the US side toward initiating the peace proces.”
Faizi said President Karzai remained firmed on his stance against military operations on Afghan homes and achieving peace. He said the conditions were not so hard to be achieved and implemented.
“Signing of the security agreement with the US is vital and Afghanistan wants it, we are looking forward to seeing practical steps from the US in this regard,” he said.
US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James F. Dobbins, has reportedly arrived in Islamabad, where he met Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday to discuss the stalled peace process in Afghanistan.
Quoting sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Pakistani media said the two diplomats discussed relations between the two countries and also talked about the Afghan peace process.
On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said if Karzai continued to block the agreement, there could be no deployment and the planned assistance would be put at risk. He said it before the start of an annual meeting of diplomats and security officials in Brussels.
About Rasmussen’s warning, Aimal Faizi said they had already held preliminary talks with NATO officials in this regard.
He said Afghanistan would discuss with NATO its presence after the BSA with the US was signed and a decision would come at the end of talks.
Faizi also denied President Karzai had suggested delaying the elections scheduled for April next year to avoid the heavy snow that could cut off access to some parts of the country, as asserted by the poll’s organisers.
He said The IEC chairman had been quoted out of context and Karzai was against any change in the election timetable since the very beginning. He said the President wanted free, fair and peaceful elections.
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