It has been reported by the Dawn newspaper that Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused his U.S. ally of withholding military supplies to press him to sign a bilateral security deal that will shape the US military presence after most foreign troops leave in 2014.
Washington, which swiftly denied the assertion, has said that unless the pact is signed promptly, it could pull out most of its troops, as it did in Iraq two years ago.
“The cutting of fuel supplies and support services to the Afghan army and police is being used as a means of pressure to ensure Afghanistan signs the Bilateral Security Agreement,”a statement from Karzai's palace said.
Karzai said last week he might refuse to sign the deal until after Afghanistan's presidential election in April 2014.
U.S. officials said logistical problems in Pakistan might have given rise to the alleged delays in deliveries.
“There has been no stoppage in the delivery of requested fuel and we continue to process all orders as soon as they are received,” the Nato led force in Afghanistan said in a statement.
Karzai's relationship with the United States has undergone a change since he invited thousands of elders to vote on the security deal last week and then ignored their advice, which was to sign it promptly.
Even after the pact's terms were settled after about a year of wrangling, Karzai has since added conditions that include the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and an end to military operations involving Afghan homes.
The decade-long security deal would mandate the size and shape of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan once the Nato combat mission ends next year. Without it, the United States would be unable to keep troops in Afghanistan, and most other nations would be likely to withdraw theirs too.
Afghanistan faces a potent Taliban insurgency and is still training its own military.
The disagreement on the terms of agreement between the United States and Afghanistan has far reaching implications. The withdrawal of foreign military troops from Afghanistan is not simply a mechanical arrangement. It impacts the entire region where peace and security hinges on the successful political and administrative transition in Afghanistan. At a very critical juncture the Afghan government should first take the United States into confidence before airing its displeasure over the nature of the agreement. The aspects of the proposed agreement where Afghanistan has reservations should be discussed with the United States. When differences begin to emerge between partners, diplomacy is the best way forward. The bilateral security deal is being proposed with the objective of achieving security in the country. There is not other alternative to peace and it is only possible through better understanding. The United States has assisted Afghanistan in achieving political and economic stability. As Afghanistan begins to stabilize itself internally its standing in the international community will improve. It will need the United States to support all its efforts to preserve its sovereignty and image as an independent nation. When the destination is towards the same goal, it is advisable to find mutually agreeable solutions and common grounds for durable peace and security. It is hoped that the two sides will be able to narrow down all differences and bring a new hope for the progress of the Afghan people.
Dawn News Nov 30, 2013