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Karzai Again Sets Terms for BSA With US

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KABUL – Pakistan could never force Afghanistan into recognising the British-mandated Durand Line with border skirmishes like the one in the Goshta district of eastern Nangarhar province, the president said on Saturday. The neighbour should stop thinking that it could coerce Afghanistan into negotiations on the Durand Line issue, Hamid Karzai told a news conference in Kabul — three days after an Afghan policeman was killed in the clash.

However, he hastened to restate his desire for good neighbourly ties with Pakistan, calling the fire exchange a coincidence. The president took great pains to explain that he had not ordered the clash. The incident has touched off strong protests in a number of provinces, including Kabul, Nangarhar, Uruzgan, Nuristan and Kunar. They have stressed the need for a tit-for-tat response to Pakistan’s aggressive designs.

Commenting negotiations with the US on the bilateral security agreement (BSA), Karzai acknowledged Washington’s prime objective was to have military bases in Afghanistan. But Kabul would agree to US demand only when it met Afghanistan’s conditions, including America’s stand on attacks on Afghanistan from neighbours, the president explained.

He said another condition was that Kabul would have complete control over American aid in return for the military bases. Additionally, the pact must guarantee peace and stability in Afghanistan. With regard to CIA payments to his office, he such government-to-government support was a common practice in the world. The assistance was important for reinforcing the Afghan government and economy, he argued.

At recent talks in Kabul, the CIA director had agreed to his suggestion regarding continued aid flows, aimed at funding government employees’ salaries, scholarships, house rent and medical treatment, Karzai continued. In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Karzai asked the Taliban to fight against Afghanistan’s enemies. “Instead of destroying their own country, they should focus on places where plots are hatched against Afghan prosperity.”

He called for the insurgents to lend their weight to Afghan security forces. “They should stand with this young man who laid down his life defend his soil,” he said of the border policeman killed by Pakistan troops. During the border skirmish, Afghan forces razed a newly-erected border gate. (PAN)

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