Karzai spells out conditions for long-term US bases

Karzai said the US must stop night raids and building parallel institutions in Afghanistan as a condition of a strategic partnership agreement between the two nations.

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2011, 21:45 PM IST

Kabul: President Hamid Karzai outlined
his conditions for long-term US military bases in Afghanistan
at a key four-day gathering of elders, saying that Kabul wants
national sovereignty "on Wednesday".

"We want our national sovereignty and we want it today,"
he told the gathering preparing to debate Afghanistan`s
long-term ties with the US when the bulk of foreign combat
troops leave in 2014.

"We want our relationship with America to be one of two
independent countries," he told the loya jirga, a traditional
gathering of influential Afghans in a consultation process
whose outcome will be non-binding.

Karzai said the US must stop night raids and building
parallel institutions in Afghanistan as a condition of a
strategic partnership agreement between the two nations.

But if it meets conditions such as these, Karzai said
Afghanistan was prepared to host US troops in the long-term.

"If they want military bases, we will allow them, it is in
our benefit, money will come to us, and our forces will be
trained," he said.

He also moved to reassure Afghanistan`s neighbours about
the nature of any strategic partnership deal.

"We reassure all the friendly countries that no country
and no neighbouring country will be interfered with from
Afghanistan," Karzai said.

"Afghanistan sees its national interest in having good
relations with neighbours and want our independence to have
good relations with neighbours such as China, Russia and
others."

He added: "America may be powerful, America may be richer,
America may have more land but we are lions."

Hossain told the court that the FBI agent was not a
witness named in the charge-sheet and according to rules she
could testify only after the court recorded the statements of
the named witnesses.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam also appeared before the
court on behalf of the state to assist the ACC lawyers.

Rahman, now living in London, was declared "fugitive" as
he defied an earlier summon by the court while Mamun was
facing the trial in person as he is now in jail.

He was arrested March 7, 2007 under state of emergency
rule during the past military-backed interim government as
part of a massive anti-graft campaign but was paroled at the
fag end of the regime for receiving treatment abroad. He has
since been living in Britain.

The judge yesterday allowed the FBI agent to testify in
the graft case on a prosecution application filed by
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief counsel Anisul Huq
saying she had helped the graft watchdog investigating charges
against Rahman and Mamun.

The trial of the money laundering case began on September
11 with the deposition of the complainant kicking off the
trial of the first out of the 15 criminals and graft cases
against Rahman and Mamun.

The court in August this year indicted Rahman and Mamun
and issued a warrant ordering arrest of the ex-premier`s son
to be exposed to trial to face the charge that alleged the two
siphoned out at least Taka 20.41 crore (USD 2.66 million)
between 2003 and 2007.

Another Dhaka court earlier issued warrants against
Rahman as a prime suspect of the August 21, 2004 grenade
attack on a rally of now ruling Awami League of Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina, killing 24 people.

Witnesses and officials the chief metropolitan magistrate
court of Dhaka ordered them to be sent to jail as the former
inspectors general of police Ashraful Huda, Khoda Baksh
Chowdhury and Shahudul Haque surrendered before the court.

Rahman`s younger brother Arafat Rahman Koko in June this
year handed down six years of imprisonment for siphoning off
over Taka 20 crore abroad after trial in absentia.

The World Bank recently released a publication mentioning
the alleged embezzlement of several million dollars by Koko as
"an example of stealing national assets".

PTI