News - Afghanistan
Former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mumand in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews said that talks with the Taliban would not have any progress so long as foreign troops remain in Afghanistan.
"As long as the foreign troops stay in Afghanistan, relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan will not change for the better," Mumand said. "When the foreign troops leave the country, Afghanistan will stand on its own feet and will be an independent country and relations between the countries will improve."
He argued the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington would perpetuate the war with the insurgency. Despite assurances to the contrary, Afghanistan's neighbors are in opposition to foreign troops continuing to have a base of operations after 2014.
Mumand said he though President Hamid Karzai would accept the U.S. conditions and sign the BSA soon.
"I think that the security agreement will be signed and all of the U.S.' demands will be accepted," he said. "President Karzai is trying to tell the nation that by travelling to Iran, Pakistan and India, he put the U.S. under pressure and will think it's an achievement."
Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with the Indian NDTV, President Karzai said that if the U.S. was really an ally to Afghanistan, it would stop issuing threats about the future if the BSA is not signed.
"Allies shouldn't be waging psychological war against each other," Karzai said while on his four-day trip to New Delhi to meet with Indian officials.
Negotiations over the BSA have hit a rough patch since Karzai refused to go along with the recommendation of the Loya Jirga to sign the pact before the end of the year. Instead, he said he would not do so until the April elections, and then, only if the U.S. met certain preconditions.
The U.S. and its allies have been losing patience with Karzai over the accord, which would allow foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan after the 2014 NATO withdraw and would guarantee continued military aid to the Afghan forces. Washington has demanded the agreement be signed before the end of the year.
More pertinently, U.S. officials like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry have made public statements warning Karzai and his government of what Afghanistan could be like in just over a year if no foreign troops stick around and the funding flow is cut off.
The U.S. currently has 47,000 troops in Afghanistan, and is expected to take on an increasingly hands-off role in Afghan security in the coming months, primarily training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces.