President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday continued his criticism of US intentions in Afghanistan with a pointed speech claiming the Americans are eyeing off Afghan mines and warned that now the Afghan government knows.
“Americans have asked Afghans to give them Afghanistan’s mining contracts, and I said ‘Bring your contracts’… Lots of mines are hidden in Helmand and from the start they have been doing their investigations and finishing their photography. But now they understand that we know about them,” Karzai said in a speech during an official visit to southern Helmand province Tuesday.
Karzai also repeated his condemnation of the Taliban’s attacks as a backhanded support for the US military in Afghanistan because they only serve to prolong the US presence instead of removing it.
He also blasted the Taliban leaders for going outside Afghanistan and “drinking coffee” with foreigners, while in Afghanistan they kill civilians in the name of fighting foreigners.
“The Taliban leaders who are staying in Pakistan and Quetta are traveling daily to different countries in special planes and negotiating with foreigners. Two months ago in France they had a meeting with foreigners and with some Afghan opposition groups in Paris. There they are drinking tea and coffee and here in Kabul and Khost they are killing widows and trying to show their power to America. But it is not power as much as a service for America,” Karzai said.
Karzai made similar remarks in a speech on Sunday in Kabul saying that the Taliban was colluding with the US to ensure an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.
The new US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was in Kabul at the time, dismissed the comments as not making any sense, while US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham described them as “inconceivable”.
The White House also responded saying that nobody believed his statement.
“That’s categorically false, and nobody believes it,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said about Karzai’s remarks.
“The United States has spent enormous blood and treasure for the past 12 years supporting the Afghan people…in the effort to ensure stability and security in that country,” he added.
However, Karzai seemed undeterred Tuesday repeating the claim that was rejected by US and Afghan leaders alike that the US and Taliban are secretly meeting while leaving the Afghan government out of negotiations.
Newly-elected first vice speaker of Parliament Mirwais Yasini told TOLOnews that Afghanistan’s government needs to appreciate the assistance of the West and warned that Karzai risked pushing Afghanistan’s relationship into an irreparable crisis.
“We must move forward conscientiously so our relations with the world, the West and our neighbors won’t be damaged,” Yasini said Tuesday.
MP Ahmad Bahzad agreed saying that Karzai’s views should not affect the relationship.
“When the international community escorted Karzai into the presidential palace, they didn’t come with his invitation. So too, they should not leave now with all these protests and accusations,” he told TOLOnews.
“Afghanistan needs the support of the international community and obviously the Afghan people needs the help of the international community,” he added.
Despite Karzais’ remarks the White House has said that the US President’s Barack Obama decision for a 2014 withdraw of soldiers from Afghanistan and helping build the Afghan security forces has not changed.