Washington: Amid a political row over the legitimacy of the Karzai-led government, a top US Senator on Monday said the legitimacy of the Afghan authority is very critical for success in the restive country as Washington mulls surge in troops to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda.
"In my judgment, the most important thing here is legitimacy as we go forward. President (Hamid) Karzai needs to have legitimacy in his country, with his own people, and obviously, with the global community," said John Kerry, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Over the weekend, Kerry was in Afghanistan to get a first hand information about the situation on the ground as the Obama administration mulls a request from the military for another 40,000 troops to boost the more than 100,000 already in the restive nation under US and NATO command.
"I think you need to have a process that is accepted by the people as constitutional, and clearly there has to be legitimacy to whatever the outcome is," he told the CNN from Pakistan where he is travelling right now.
Karzai has been accused of gaining votes in the Presidential Elections by his main rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has demanded a run-off. Abdullah`s supporters have said that they will not accept a Karzai victory because of the vote-rigging claims, raising fears about the next administration`s legitimacy at a time of spiralling insurgent violence.
"Obviously, if one entity has suggested that a run-off is necessary, the President`s going to have very powerful reasons that are acceptable to everybody as to why, indeed, that isn`t the case," Kerry said.
Kerry said the new Af-Pak policy of the Obama administration would be on hold till the time of a new government is formed in Kabul.
"I believe that before the President commits additional troops, we need to know that we are proceeding forward in Afghanistan with a government in a constructive way that offers us the best hope of success," Kerry said, adding "As of this moment in time, we don`t have that, and we need it".
Karzai`s survival -- and that of his government -- depends on the continued support of the international community, which has poured billions of dollars in aid into the country since overthrowing the Taliban regime in 2001.