Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When NATO Leaves Afghanistan

by Giuliano Battiston

JALALABAD, Afghanistan - Afghanistan’s 30 million people are deeply divided over whether President Hamid Karzai should sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington that will allow U.S. military operations to continue in the conflict-ravaged country after NATO forces leave in 2014.

Some believe the BSA is important for stability in Afghanistan, others say it could invite further trouble from insurgents. Yet others believe signing the pact would antagonise countries like Pakistan and Iran.

“We are a weak country, militarily, economically and politically. That’s why we need the agreement. We have to make a very pragmatic choice: accept the Americans here or face a very uncertain future with no country willing to help us,” Hedayatullah Amam, a businessman in his 50s, told IPS.
“Karzai is just playing a political game to present himself as a man protecting national sovereignty, but that will be over soon."

The U.S. wants to sign the pact soon as possible, but President Karzai wants to wait it out till the next presidential elections in April 2014. However, many in Afghanistan see it as mere posturing on his part.

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