News - Afghanistan
Fayeq Wahidi, Deputy spokesman of President Hamid Karzai, on Saturday has said the U.S. pressure on the Afghan government would not impact its approach to the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
The finalization of the BSA has been stalled since President Karzai said he would not sign the accord until after the April elections, and only if the U.S. met certain preconditions, despite a Loya Jirga recommending the pact be signed as soon as possible.
Officials in Washington have said the agreement must be signed before the end of the year.
Wahidi said the U.S. thinks that putting pressure on Afghanistan would force the government to sign the pact, but that this was a "miscalculation."
He said that the Afghan government knows that the U.S. can meet Kabul's demands.
"We believe that the security pact will have benefits, but the demands for the signing of it from President Karzai are legitimate," Wahidi said. "So it's good that the United State chooses cooperation but the artificial pressure will not have any impact."
Karzai has said he will not sign the accord unless progress is seen in the Taliban peace process and U.S. raids on Afghan homes cease.
U.S. officials have warned that if the BSA is not signed, no foreign troops would remain in Afghanistan after 2014 and some 4.1 billion USD in military aid funding would be frozen.
"If the agreement is not signed, it could cause a capital flight from Afghanistan," economic expert Nazir Kaberi told TOLOnews.
"The signing of the agreement will have more impact on Afghanistan's economy than other sections," MP Kamal Naser Osuli said.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Washington's top diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, have all visited Karzai recently to convince him to sign by the end of the year, but the visits not seen any major progress.
There are around 48,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The United States has been in discussions with Afghan officials about keeping a residual force of about 8,000 troops after the end of the NATO combat mission next year.
On Wednesday, Karzai reacted angrily to a comment by Kerry at a NATO meeting in Brussels that the Afghan Defence Minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, could sign the document instead of the President.
A year-long negotiation over the text of the document was thought to have been concluded last month when an assembly of Afghan tribal elders and politicians, called a Loya Jirga, approved the pact. But Karzai surprised everyone during concluding remarks by saying he still had important demands.