BSA best way to stabilise Afghanistan: Dunford
KABUL (Pajhwok): The top NATO commander in Afghanistan on Thursday called the Bilateral Security Agreement the best way to bring peace, stability and progress to Afghanistan and vanquish the war-torn country’s enemies.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said the UN-mandate International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had no plans to leave Afghanistan and the coalition wanted to focus on continuing its mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
He said Afghan national security forces (ANSF) did not exist a decade ago, but were reconstructed and strengthened very carefully as a result of efforts over the past 10 years. Today, he said, the ANSF strength had gone past more than 350,000.
“During this period, 182 aircraft, more than 100,000 vehicles and over 500,000 weapons and more than 200,000 communication tools have been provided to Afghan forces,” the ISAF commander told a news conference in Kabul.
With reference to recent tensions between Afghanistan and America over the BSA, the general said the delay in signing of the deal was fuelling confusion in the international coalition and the Afghans.
The agreement envisages continued cooperation between the Afghan people and the international coalition, according to the commander, who said the US Congress could not support the mission in the absence of BSA.
The alliance needed clarity regarding the agreement to continue its mission that began in 2002, he argued. “I believe this agreement is the best way to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, to eliminate insurgents and support security and political transitions."
About the planned release of 88 dangerous prisoners from the Bagram jail, he said the move was violative of an agreement between Washington and Kabul on the transfer of the detention facility to local control.
The MoU calls for the creation of an Afghan Review Board (ARB), composed of one retired judge and two prosecutors, to convene under Afghan law to determine the disposition of all Afghan detainees.
After the procedures set forth in the MoU are accomplished, detainees may be referred for prosecution, further detained or released. The ARB is to consider a recommendation for the disposition of Afghan detainees from the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Each of the 88 cases disputed by US Forces has documents/evidence alleging criminal activity in violation of Afghan law. At least 59 of the cases could be sent directly to the AGO for prosecution in an Afghan court, the US says.
Dunford said: "I cannot say what will happen and what will be the policy about these individuals. But we are very concerned about the security of the Afghan people and coalition forces." According to his information, so far no decision has been taken on the release of these prisoners.
Last week, three US senators visited Kabul in an effort to convince Afghan authorities into the early signing of the security agreements.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the delegation, had said half of the annual cost of sustaining Afghan security forces, approximately $5 billion, was paid by America. In the absence of BSA, the US could not guarantee the payment, he had warned.
The team had termed as illegal the release of inmates from the Bagram prison by the Review Board, a body formed to review prisoner cases. It alleged demanded prisoners' cases be tried by Afghan courts.
For his part, Karzai insists his government’s conditions regarding US support for peace talks and a halt to raids on civilian homes by foreign troops must be met before the pact was signed.
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