Americans free to exit Afghanistan: Karzai
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Hamid Karzai on Saturday reiterated his stance on signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, saying substantive negotiations with the Taliban were essential for peace.
A traditional Loya Jirga, attended by 2,500 delegates from across the country, endorsed the BSA in November and urged President Karzai to sign the deal before the end of 2013 -- a call shared by Washington.
But Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that if his conditions were not met the BSA would fizzle out just like Durand and Gandamak agreements with colonial Britain.
“We want to make sure that Afghanistan doesn’t come under federalism,” the president said, alleging foreigners had been pushing for a federal system by weakening the central government.
“If the Americans are unwilling to accept our conditions on BSA, they can leave anytime and Afghan will go without foreigners…Afghanistan will absolutely not accept or sign anything under pressure.”
The US and Pakistan held the key to peace in Afghanistan, he said, asking them to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Our main condition is the practical start of the peace process.”
About 58,000 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Karzai pledged he would not let anyone play with the country’s constitution in the upcoming presidential and provincial elections. There was no proof of America making efforts for promoting the peace talks, he said.
Last week’s security incidents proved that innocent Afghans would continue to suffer casualties in NATO airstrikes if foreign military bases were allowed in the county for 10 more years, he warned.
On Jan 17, many civilians were killed and wounded during a joint operation. Later, a probe team said that 14 civilians and five Taliban were killed in the NATO airstrike.
The following day, at least 21 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Lebanese hotel in Kabul.
Karzai maintained: “We want to have good relations with America, but not at the cost of Afghan lives. America cannot achieve their goals at the expense of our lives.”
Former king Abdur Rahman Khan was forced in 1880s to ink Durand Line agreement, Karzai claimed, saying America was threatening his government of losing international support if the BSA not signed.
Karzai urged the media to protect Afghanistan’s interest and avoid playing into the hands of foreigners. “Agreements were signed in the past under pressure. But we will no longer accept duress and threats…”
He asserted his war-torn country’s strength and said it had strong security forces. Foreigners would not be allowed to interfere in Afghanistan’s election process, he concluded.
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