Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai says if the United States wants to leave Afghanistan it “can do it even today, may God be with them”, but he will not back down from his conditions to sign a key security pact with Washington that would allow American forces to stay in the country beyond 2014.
The NATO-led combat military mission is ending in December and Washington needs the so-called bilateral security agreement (BSA) to be in place as soon as possible so a smaller American military presence in Afghanistan can continue counter-terrorism activities as well as advise and assist Afghan security forces.
A traditional national assembly of Afghan elders and politicians also endorsed the security pact late last year. But President Hamid Karzai has since refused to sign the deal until the U.S. military ends raids against Afghan homes while chasing insurgents and helps Kabul in opening peace talks with the Taliban.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul Saturday, the Afghan leader reiterated his demands. “Until we are satisfied, he said, that the BSA will bringing positive results, signing the document will mean bringing repression to the country, its soil and the people,” he stated.
President Karzai said that “Afghanistan will never be ready to sign anything under pressure,” adding that “no pressure, no threats and no psychological war against our people will force them to sign the BSA”.
President Karzai also denounced the use of advertising, some paid for by the United States, advocating the BSA be signed.
The United States has warned that it will be forced to end its military mission and cut financial assistance to Afghanistan without the BSA in place. President Karzai in his news conference again dismissed those warnings.
The Afghan leader says that “if they (U.S. forces) are leaving, then Allah Hafiz to them [May God Be with them] and they can leave even today”. As far as Afghans are concerned, he added, they will survive.
President Karzai openly questioned motives for the U.S. counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan.
He said that if the United States wants to ally with Afghanistan, “they must explain their [anti-terrorism] policy and tell us who are they chasing, what do they want, and what is their target?”
President Karzai added that U.S. officials have told him there are only up to 40 al-Qaida operatives left in Afghanistan that they want to eliminate. So, only for such a small number they have caused so much unrest, the Afghan leader asked. He claimed the Afghan forces can easily deal with them and capture them.
He went on to harshly criticize a detention facility on the U.S.-run Bagram air field north of Kabul, condemning it as a “Taliban-producing factory” where he alleged that Afghans are tortured into hating their country.
Karzai’s critical remarks came as President Barack Obama is preparing to make his State of the Union address on Tuesday. During a recent trip to Kabul, a group of key American senators had warned that in the absence of any progress on the BSA, the U.S. president will not be able to allocate future funds and forces for the Afghan mission.