[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Failure to sign pact could end Afghan mission

Hamid Karzai says he might not sign the US-Afghan security pact until April, despite approval from Loya Jirga.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 00:44
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Hamid Karzai has called for the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay [Reuters]

NATO would have to pull all its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not sign a security pact with the United States, alliance chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.

The statement came on Monday, weeks after an assembly of Afghan elders, the Loya Jirga, endorsed the security pact intended to shape the US military presence in the country beyond 2014.

Karzai has said he might not sign it until after elections in April.

The NATO-led force currently has around 80,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority American. NATO is winding down combat operations, handing responsibility for fighting Taliban fighters to the Afghans, before most foreign combat forces pull out by the end of 2014.

NATO plans to leave a training mission, expected to number 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers, in Afghanistan after 2014.

The US has already warned it could withdraw all its forces by the end of next year, the so-called "zero option", if Karzai does not sign the pact.

Without the US-Afghan accord, NATO will not be able to finalise its own agreement with the Afghan government setting the terms for troops from other NATO and partner nations to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, Rasmussen told reporters.

"In that case, we don't have a proper legal framework in place and it will not be possible to deploy a 'train, advise, assist' mission to Afghanistan after 2014," Rasmussen said.

New conditions

He voiced hope Karzai would follow the advice of the Loya Jirga and sign.

The agreement that NATO needs with Afghanistan is modelled on the proposed US pact and, in any case, Washington is expected to supply most of the forces for the post-2014 NATO mission, so without the US, the mission is unlikely to be feasible.

Although terms of the Afghan-US pact were settled after a year of wrangling, Karzai has since added conditions including the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and an end to military operations involving Afghan homes.

334

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.