Stop killing civilians or strategic pact is off, Karzai tells US


Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on May 3, 2012.

 Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the strategic pact signed by Kabul and Washington will be at risk if US-led forces continue to kill Afghan civilians.
On Monday, Karzai summoned the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to warn them that civilian casualties in military operations threatened the pact, AFP reported.On May 1, 2012, Washington and Kabul signed an agreement to extend the US military presence in Afghanistan to 2024.

Shortly after arriving in the war-torn country in an unannounced trip late at night on May 1, US President Barack Obama met Karzai, and both signed the deal that authorizes the presence of US troops for a period of 10 years after 2014, which was the original date agreed upon for the departure of all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan.

A statement from Karzai’s office said that since Saturday, dozens of Afghan civilians, including women and children, had been killed in NATO airstrikes in four provinces — Logar and Helmand in the south, Kapisa in the east, and Badghis in the northwest.

The statement said that President Karzai signed the pact with the US to protect the lives of Afghans and if civilian deaths are not prevented, the pact will lose its validity.

“If the lives of Afghans are not protected, the strategic partnership will lose its meaning,” the statement quoted Karzai as saying.

US-led troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001. Their initial offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country despite the presence of about 130,000 foreign forces.

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