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Ghani Defends South Asia Strategy as Politicians Criticize BSA

14 Sep 2018 Tolo News

The call by Afghanistan’s influential politicians and some political parties to review the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US has been met with mixed reactions by the Afghan government, members of parliament and political experts.


This comes a day after Afghan politicians and leaders of a number of political movements gathered in Kabul where they discussed Afghanistan’s ongoing political and security situation with a special focus on the issue of peace and the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed between Afghanistan and the United States.


Among those who defended the BSA agreement was general Abdul Raziq, the police of chief of southern Kandahar province who said that the BSA had been approved by over 5,000 members of the Loya Jirga who represented the people of Afghanistan from all provinces. 


“Some individuals are doing this because of the embassies, particularly the embassies of neighboring countries, this is a new lobbying by some countries such as Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis,” he said.


He said that some elements who receive money from foreign embassies including Russia are pressing government to terminate or review the security agreement with the US.


But, a number of lawmakers argue that the US has failed to enforce some key items of the BSA when it comes to the security of Afghanistan.


“They (US) provide $6 billion to the Afghan security forces annually, if today they (members of parliament)  want them to stop this aid, perhaps, they (US officials) will be very happy,” said Jawed Ludin, former deputy minister of foreign affairs. 


“This is related to the recent deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, recently we witnessed deadly incidents in several regions of Afghanistan including the incidents in Ghazni and Kabul,” said MP Muhayyuddin Mahdi when asked about the review of BSA. 


“One of the items in the BSA states that whenever there is an attack on Afghanistan from outside, this would be a matter of concern for the US, this item does not oblige the US to protect Afghanistan against foreign attacks,” he added.


Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said at a meeting with the families of victims of recent insurgent attacks in Kabul that the people of Afghanistan waited for the US’s South Asia Strategy for the past 40 years.


“The US strategy for Afghanistan and the South Asia strategy is a thing for which the people of Afghanistan were waiting for forty years,” said Ghani.


In addition, the US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said that the presence of the US in Afghanistan is vital to tackle the current challenges.


“There are big challenges, that’s why the United States and our allies and partners continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan security forces and with the brave men and women of Afghanistan in addressing those security challenges. But at the same time, we think it is important to continue to help the Afghan government and people, grow the economy, create new employment opportunities and improve the lives and quality of life for the citizens of your country,” said Bass. 


This agreement has allowed thousands of US soldiers to remain in the country after 2014 and it has paid the salaries of all Afghan National Defense and Security Force members.


Back in 2014, the National Unity Government (NUG) under President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah concluded the crucial Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO, paving the way for about 12,000 foreign forces to remain in Afghanistan post-2014.


The BSA was initially supposed to be signed by the Karzai administration. But Karzai stunned top US officials and many of his own security officials and the Afghans in general by refusing to sign the agreement. He said that the US first needed to restore peace in Afghanistan before he would sign the pact. 


Karzai said that the US had to prove its good intentions by keeping its soldiers out of Afghan homes and promoting peace talks with the Taliban. But in accordance with the BSA, the US pays the salaries of all National Security and Defense Force members. 

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