By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai
Adding to the frustration of the most favored ally during the past decade with which he once enjoyed a special relationship and marriage of connivance particularly during Bush era, once again he pushed for his conditions and denied any agreement before his demands are met.
His demands include setting free the Afghan prisoners in Guantanamo and further assurances from the United States that its forces will not raid Afghan homes and its sincere commitment to help start stalled peace talks with Taliban.
Following US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins, the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (who didn’t meet Karzai during his recent visit) was the latest among US authorities who visited Afghanistan recently persuading Afghan administration to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) before the next presidential elections.
In a rare political maneuvering the president, who is constitutionally barred from running in the forthcoming elections, refused to back away from his recalcitrant stance, this time with a stricter stance in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Karzai said “what I’ve been hearing in recent days and heard in the past is classic colonial exploitation.”
Three core reasons underpin around Karzai recalcitrant stance:
President Karzai perhaps wants to be remembered as a patriot Afghan leader rather than a foreign puppet. His egoistic nature compels him to leave a name in the history of a figure that thought and worked for the greater interest of his people, by standing against and not allowing a major power like the United States to raid their houses or reach an agreement with them without the condition of bringing peace.
Secondly his major concern probably is regarding political settlement with Taliban for which he has been pushing from 2007. His fear perhaps is that after the April poll when a new president come in power and in case he is not assured of this lukewarm political settlement, which experienced plethora of problems and major setbacks during the past few years, there will be another chaos in the country, where the fire and fight will continue for unpredictable time in the future.
According to him, if he signs the BSA and peace is not brought to the country, who will be blamed by history; off course he will be blamed for it. He stated that “we want the security agreement with the condition of peace, it must bring peace to the country, i know that America can bring peace to Afghanistan if they truly want.”
Thirdly he doesn’t want any foreign interference or any hijacking of the forthcoming April 2014 polls in Afghanistan like in the past. He want make sure that the elections are held in a more transparent way.
These conditions are perhaps understandable and pragmatic. Still there is time the NATO and US military could work on the post 2014 peaceful Afghanistan.
Though the relationship between the two countries seems worse than they have been and almost on the knife’s edge but there are many reasons which proves that the Bilateral Security Agreement will be signed as it is inevitable for both Afghanistan and the United States.
Hopes are there among Afghans that the BSA will be signed between the two countries as on one hand the Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) and Afghan people have shown their agreement regarding signing of the BSA while on the other hand from both Afghan and US authorities statements it seems that there is absolute possibility of the signing of the agreement. As Chuck Hagel following a meeting with the Afghan Defense Minister said that he has been assured that the BSA would be signed in a timely manner, also the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford said recently that he will continue planning for a post 2014 forces in Afghanistan. In the meantime, a top US senator in a letter to President Barack Obama, suggested that the Washington should wait until a new Afghan leader is elected to sign the agreement.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins in his latest remarks to U.S. Foreign Relations Committee mentioned that he has no doubt that the BSA with Afghanistan will be concluded.
Its only matter of few months where both countries could reach an agreement that is of vital interest to both countries.
In case there is complete withdrawal of troops, this will be a catastrophic scenario, not only for Afghanistan but also for the whole region.
Currently Afghanistan is in the grip of many challenges emerging from inside the country and extending its tentacles from the neighbor countries, hence it is hoped that unlike the past the international community will not leave Afghanistan in isolation and its people in the lurch.