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The Killid Group
Karzai inks security pacts without talksWritten by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 05 February 2012 10:23
President Hamid Karzai has signed long-term strategic treaties with Italy, France and Britain. There has been little discussion on the contents of the different agreements. Killid talks to political analysts.
Karzai has returned to Kabul from a five-day trip to Turkmenistan and to Europe on Jan. 29. The Office of the President says the president has signed friendship agreements that lay down the contours of Afghanistan's bilateral relations with Italy, France and Britain after the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014. What are the legal implications of the pacts on Afghanistan? It appears the government has not thought it important to share details with its people.
Faramarz Tamana, deputy spokesman in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deems the contents of the three documents different from each other. He explains the treaty signed by Karzai and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome on Jan. 26 "includes agreement on industrial cooperation and rebuilding in eastern Afghanistan, including modernising of Herat airport and assistance to economic growth". In Paris the next day, French President Nicholas Sarkozi, signed an agreement that commits French help in agricultural development. Karzai who was in London on Jan. 28 was promised long-term military help for Afghanistan by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
How has the government tried to protect national interest?
Sardar Mohammad Oghali, a political analyst, says because of Afghanistan's tremendous geo-political importance countries are protecting their own national interest by signing strategic treaties.
"Afghanistan has a unique geographical location in the region; it connects central Asia with the southern countries of Asia," he says. "Every country would be interested to have good relations with Afghanistan."
Political observers agree the government should have consulted with political analysts, think-tanks, the national assembly and the Parliament Commission for International Affairs before inking agreements on "long-term strategic cooperation in areas of security, governance, rule of law and socio-economic and cultural development", according to the press statement issued by the Office of the President.
Dr. Jafar Mehdawi, a member of the parliamentary commission told Killid, "The expectation of the Afghan people and the Parliament was that the president of the country would consult with Parliament about the clauses in the treaties which are in the national interest."
The government preferred to hold a loya jirga in mid-November last year to seek an endorsement for the terms of agreement between Afghanistan and the US after 2014 when most international troops would have left or moved into support roles.
Faramarz Tamana, deputy spokesman in the foreign ministry, said President Karzai has taken into consideration the advise of elders at the Loya Jirga who had urged the government to implement long-term cooperation pacts with European partners.
Jafar Mehdawi says it would have been in keeping with parliamentary procedure for the government to seek advice. There are doubts that the Karzai government has not been able to make use of the experience of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which reflect national interests.
Sardar Mohammad Oghali, a former member of parliament, who shares the doubts, says the government does not make use of the experience and ideas available in the bureaucracy.
Oghali insists available skilful negotiators in the government could have ensured the bilateral treaties were in the interest of Afghanistan and for the welfare of its people. In his opinion, the three long-term pacts entered into by Karzai were hurried through by a politically weak government, which does not have the capacity to defend the interest of its people. There was no need to rush into the agreements when there is still time, he said.
By signing away national interest the government may have compromised national prestige and sovereignty, the former member of Parliament said.
Political analysts describe the treaties as having established political goals and not commitments that will benefit the people.
Nazari Paryani, the chief editor of Mandgar newspaper, believes the treaties may not be enforceable for Afghanistan. The treaties are "not stable … being political and temporary", he says. He cites the example of the recent attack on French soldiers by a Taleban infiltrator in the ANA (Afghan National Army) on Jan. 19, which provoked the French president to suspend training programmes and threaten to pull out troops from Afghanistan. It took US intervened for France to tone down the rhetoric.
According to Paryani, worse incidents could happen in the future and prompt countries to ignore the commitments made in the long-term strategic treaties. It would have been in Afghanistan's self-interest to extract "executive guarantees" from bilateral partners.
Had the government been able to get an assurance of assistance from European countries whatever the circumstances, it could have been counted as a strategic treaty in Afghanistan's interest.
Officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say Afghanistan has to enter into security pacts to prevent a security vacuum like in the 1980s after the exit of Russian troops.
Mohammad Taqi Jafari, a student in the political science faculty of Kabul University, thinks, "It is good idea if the treaties are tied to stability and development post-2014. But if the commitment of international partners is not guaranteed, it would create only excessive dependence."