Karzai unlikely to sign BSA: Congressman
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): President Hamid Karzai is unlikely to sign Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States before the upcoming presidential elections, an influential American lawmaker said on Thursday.
“Afghanistan is difficult. Karzai right now is in an unpredictable place. I do not know what is going to happen there. It is very unlikely that Karzai is going to change his mind and sign BSA. Anything is possible, but it seems unlikely,” the Congressman said.
Adam Smith, a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a breakfast meeting with Defence Writers Group it was also unlikely that there would be any winner in the first round of April presidential elections.
He expected the electoral fray to spill over to a run-off, which would further delay the signing of the BSA. “So you push back into July and August, before you get a new president,” Smith told a questioner.
“Is there enough time (to decide)? I think, there is. But it would put us in a difficult spot. It does gives us enough time? Possibly (yes). But will we wait that long?” he asked. “I do not know. I think it is a very risky situation right now,” he added.
The Congressman believed the existing Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) permitted US troops to stay in Afghanistan post 2014. “I think, we might want to make that case,” he said, voicing his concern at pulling everything out of Afghanistan.
Smith said current plans were to put between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014. “This makes great deal of sense,” he noted, opposing a complete withdrawal. “Risks there are too great to take,” he observed.
He appreciated the capabilities of the Afghan forces. “At this time they are well trained. They are fighting well. Since we have drawn down significantly, you have not seen an uptick in violence. I think this is a testimony to the fact that Afghan forces are fighting and fighting well.”
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