The United States has increased the pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to endorse a security deal with Washington.
US, NATO up pressure on Karzai to ink deal
The US State Department said on Monday that failure to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) will put Afghans at risk.
“At this point, we’ve made our position clear, and so have the Afghan people. Signing the BSA soon is the path forward, as we’ve said many times, to sustaining a partnership between the United States and Afghanistan to support Afghans in achieving lasting peace, security and development,” said the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
“Deferring the signature of the agreement until after next year’s election is not viable. It would not provide Afghans with the certainty they deserve regarding their future in the critical months leading to the elections, nor to provide the United States and NATO allies the clarity necessary for a potential post-2014 military presence,” Psaki noted.
The controversial Bilateral Security Pact will determine how many American soldiers would stay in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of foreign forces at the end of 2014. It will also grant legal immunity to those American soldiers, who remain in Afghanistan; something that has turned into a sticking point.
On November 19, Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected a key provision of the security pact, under which the US military forces are allowed to enter people’s homes, saying the act constitutes “aggression.”
This comes as Karzai on Sunday accused the United States of not providing the country with military supplies in an attempt to pressure him to sign the deal.
“The cutting of fuel supplies and support services to the Afghan army and police is being used as a means of pressure to ensure Afghanistan… signs the Bilateral Security Agreement,” the Afghan president said in a statement.
Washington immediately denied the accusation
The security agreement has already been approved by Afghan Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of tribal elders. It has to be approved by the parliament as well.
Afghan people have in a few times protested the deal. On November 25, large crowds of Afghan demonstrators poured into the streets to show their protests against the controversial deal, saying the members of the Loya Jirag do not represent Afghan people.
The angry protesters also said a security treaty between Washington and Kabul would pave the way for a prolonged US military presence in Afghanistan, calling on the Afghan government to reject any possible agreement.
A spokesman for Karzai has said that the bilateral pact must wait until after next year’s presidential election, even if it is approved by the assembly and the parliament.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of the so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops in the war-torn country.
Washington also carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in Afghanistan, which it says targets al-Qaeda militants. However, local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.