No Pact Signing Until Arbitrary Acts end: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai has said “for as long as arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue, the security agreement with the United States will not be signed.” The president expressed these views in the wake of a coalition forces’ airstrike that killed an eight-year-old child in southern Helmand province.
The drone strike on Thursday also killed a Taliban commander and injured two women in Garmsir district. The drone targeted a residential house in Faqiran village. The US-led international coalition in a statement said an investigation into the airstrike had been launched, saying it regrets any civilian casualties as a result of its airstrike.
President Hamid Karzai in a statement said if such incidents continue he will not sign the security deal with Washington. He has already deferred signing the deal until his second and last term expires in April, but has not completely excluded the possibility of doing so. While vehemently condemning the incident, Karzai telephoned Helmand Governor Naeem Baloch and directed him to extend all possible assistance to the victims’ families.
The Helmand governor said a Taliban commander and a child had been killed in the drone strike that also left two women injured in Faqirano village of Garmsir district. “I extend my heart-felt sympathies to the families and loved ones of those killed or wounded. I pray that the Almighty grants courage to the bereaved families to bear the irreparable losses and early recovery to those injured,” the president added.
Meanwhile, The New York Times quoted an unnamed coalition official as saying NATO top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., made a late-night phone call to President Karzai on Thursday to apologize for the drone strike
“He talked to President Karzai directly, expressed deep regrets for the incident and any civilian casualties, and promised to convene an immediate joint investigation to determine all the facts of what happened,” the coalition spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.
Karzai vowed this week, at the conclusion of a loya jirga, or grand council, that he would cancel the security agreement completely if there was even one more raid that killed civilians. On Thursday, he said that in effect that moment had come. (PAN)