Karzai defies loya jirga, puts off security pact with U.S.

November 26, 2013 04:48 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:19 pm IST - Kabul:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaks on the last day of the national consultative council in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaks on the last day of the national consultative council in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday.

A security pact with the U.S., which is critical to Afghanistan’s ability to pay its soldiers and hold off the Taliban, is in limbo, after President Hamid Karzai shrugged off the recommendations of a national council that has approved the deal and said he would continue talks with Washington.

After a year of negotiations, the loya jirga , or grand assembly, of 2,500 delegates approved the agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country after the current combat mission ends in 2014.

But Mr. Karzai stunned U.S. diplomats and his own security officials when he told the opening session of the jirga that the security agreement should not be signed until after presidential elections in April.

Washington quickly announced that a deal had to be agreed by the end of the year, but Mr. Karzai said on Sunday that the U.S. had to prove its good intentions by keeping soldiers out of Afghan homes, ensuring the vote was transparent and promoting peace talks with the Taliban.

“If I sign and there is no security, then who is going to be blamed for it?” he told delegates.

The agreement will allow U.S. soldiers to stay on at nine bases, mentoring the ill-equipped and trained Afghan forces, and pursuing al-Qaeda.

Without a deal, the U.S. is unlikely to part with the $4 billion a year needed to pay the Afghan army, or provide helicopters and other equipment.

Many Afghans feel that the imperfect deal is the only protection they have against powerful neighbours. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.