Karzai hits out over Afghan deaths

President tells Al Jazeera that growing public anger could cause security efforts to fail.

    "The foundation of success is in the co-operation of the Afghan people in their own government and in the international community's good intentions," he said.

    Security efforts 'undermined'

    Although United Nations figures show far more civilians are killed by the Taliban, deaths caused by foreign troops in Afghanistan have sparked wide resentment.

    At least 1,013 civilians were killed in the first six months of 2009, an increase of 24 per cent as compared to the same period in 2008, the UN said in a report released last July.

    In depth

    Afghan parliament challenges Karzai
     Tension amid civilian deaths
    Karzai's humiliation
     Afghanistan's torturous politics

    In the latest such incident, eight civilians died in the country's southern Helmand province during an air raid by international forces last Wednesday.

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said Karzai intends to relay the message about civilian deaths to the international community when he appears at an Afghanistan security and development conference in London later this month.

    "[Karzai's] message is going to be very clear: 'The international forces will never be able to undermine the Taliban if they continue killing civilians in Afghanistan'," he said.

    "He knows that civilian casualties are the issue that is definitely going to undermine his chances to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

    "He wants the international community to come up with a swift solution to this problem. More civilian casualties means new people recruited by the Taliban."

    Karzai told Al Jazeera's correspondent said that he was not travelling to the London conference to ask for more money for his country.

    "We are not going to ask for more cash. We are going to ask the international community to end night-time raids on Afghan homes.

    "We are going to ask them to stop arresting Afghans ... to reduce and eliminate civilian casualties. We are going to ask them not to have Afghan prisoners taken.

    "Those are the most sensitive areas of sovereignty for any nation, and we want to have that sovereignty retained."

    Political challenge

    Karzai, who was re-elected last year after a controversial presidential poll marred by allegations of fraud, is facing a serious political challenge at home after parliament rejected 17 of his 24 nominees for cabinet posts.

    On Monday, Karzai ordered parliament to suspend its winter break so that MPs could return to vote again.

    Parliament members have rejected two-thirds of Karzai's cabinet picks [AFP]

    The decree sparked mixed reactions from legislators on Tuesday, with some agreeing to return for the session and others questioning the constitutionality of the move.

    "According to the law the decree of the president for the suspension of the holiday is wrong, but this demand is because of new cabinet approval by the parliament, which is a lawful demand," Ramazan Bashardost, an MP, told the Reuters news agency.

    "I suggest that the lawmakers should sit down with the president and discuss all the details to find out if this is a constitutional decree."

    Karzai's decree ordered that the legislature should delay its 45-day recess until he proposes new ministers in place of those rejected at the weekend, his office said in a statement.

    The president is expected to present a new list of cabinet nominees to parliament on Saturday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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