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The Killid Group
Karzai, Obama sign partnership pactWritten by Killid reporters
Sunday, 06 May 2012 10:31
US President Barack Obama flew into Kabul on May 1 to sign a pact that outlines cooperation with Afghanistan once the US and NATO forces leave in 2014. President Hamid Karzai considered it the start of “a new chapter of mutual relations”. Details of the future US military presence are not defined yet.
“With this agreement the Afghan people, and the world, should know that Afghanistan has a friend and partner in the United States,” the US president said as President Karzai looked on.
Obama has promised the US will stand by Afghanistan, which will be designated a “Major Non-NATO Ally” after 2014. The agreement binds the US to “seek funds on a yearly basis” to support and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and “help ensure that terrorists never again encroach on Afghan soil and threaten Afghanistan, the region and the world”.
The pact, which is titled Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, has been roughly a year in the making. On April 22, Karzai’s national security adviser Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta and the US ambassador Ryan Crocker had signed in Kabul the draft document. Many crucial details need to be worked out including how many troops will remain in military bases here after most are pulled out by 2014.
Last November, the president had won the backing of tribal elders to negotiate with the US. The Loya Jirga had set 74 conditions for a pact. In the past two months the two sides had come to an understanding on two of the most controversial demands: night-time raids on suspected Taleban targets, and control of the main military prison in the Bagram military base. On both the US had met Afghan pre-conditions.
The long-term strategic treaty includes agreements on the liberty of women and media. The US has promised aid for health, education, agriculture, commerce and mines development.
“Cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States is based on mutual respect and shared interests – most notably, a common desire for peace and to strengthen collective efforts to achieve a region that is economically integrated, and no longer a safe haven for al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” the preamble to the agreement states.
Political experts and members of parliament have reacted to the surprise mid-night signing of the pact. According to political analyst Ghulam Gailani Zwak, people want to see an end to the conflict. There would be public support for the pact only if the conflict is resolved, he added.
Mahmood Saiqal, a political commentator, says the pact is in the interest of both countries. However, Dr Amin who teaches at Kabul University thinks until the details of the future US military presence in the country are worked out, the agreement is not of great importance.
Obama has visited Afghanistan three times during his presidency and his last trip was in March 2010. After the mid-night signing the president flew to meet US troops at the Bagram air force base. He offered his thanks saying “there’s a light on the horizon because of the sacrifices you’ve made”. He said they would not be kept “a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security,” and promised to “finish the job” and “end this war responsibly”.
“International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward,” he is reported to have told the troops. “We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people,” the president said.