A number of MPs on Thursday met with President Hamid Karzai and reported that if the U.S. seriously focuses on the issue of raids on Afghan homes, the President would soon sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), allowing foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014.
“Our assessment is that the President insists on the issue of house searches; he wants the Americans to stop searching homes without the presence of Afghans and without a court order,” Kandahar MP Hamid Zai Lalai said. “If the U.S. honors these demands, I think the BSA will be signed soon.”
Controversy erupted last month when Karzai told some 2,500 leaders from around the country gathered in Kabul for the Loya Jirga that he would not abide by their recommendation to approve the BSA before the end of the year. Instead, he said he would not sign it until after the April elections and only then if the U.S. meets certain preconditions.
Karzai came under fire from all walks of Afghan life – MPs, civil society, Presidential candidates, everyday citizens – for demanding that the U.S. guarantee some advance in Taliban peace talks and cease raids on Afghan homes before he would sign the security pact.
U.S. officials told Karzai initially that they did not have a “magic wand” to establish peace in Afghanistan, and said the accord needed to be finalized by the end of the year. However, recently, U.S. President Barack Obama has shown some willingness to extend the deadline for signing.
Leaders in Washington have not spoken out much publicly about the issue of raids on Afghan homes, but early on, there were suggestions that such actions were necessary for the counterterrorism mission the U.S. wants to continue to pursue in the region.
“We believe that president will soon reach a deal with the U.S. and will agree on this topic,” said MP Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, the head of the Parliamentary Delegation for Internal Security.
The BSA would ensure a close military partnership between Washington and Kabul after the NATO combat mission ends next year. Some 10,000 U.S. troops would be expected to stay in Afghanistan to help train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. Additionally, some 4.1 billion USD in military aid is tied to the pact.
Afghan MPs have been some of the biggest proponents of the BSA, arguing that Afghanistan needs longterm U.S. support and both sides should show more flexibility in order that the agreement is signed soon.