Tribal Leaders Oppose Jirga and BSA with USA

KABUL: (MEP) – A gathering of tribal elders and religious scholars from around the country was organized in Kabul on Sunday in which opposition was voiced against both the Loya Jirga organized by President Hamid Karzai and the Washington-Kabul security pact it is expected to decide on.

There have been many commentators over the past couple months offering criticism or support for Karzai’s decision to leave the fate of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which would outline the U.S.’ involvement in Afghan national security after the troop withdraw at the end of 2014, up to a Loya Jirga. Most have generally agreed that the BSA is advantageous for Afghanistan.

Fearing the Loya Jirga could prove a blunt instrument for a delicate decision, the biggest critics of Karzai’s Jirga have often been the biggest supporters of the BSA.

However, on Sunday, tribal elders and religious scholars took a different stance. They opposed the Loya Jirga because they did not think the security pact should even be considered.

“What is in this agreement? Only one thing: that the United States will remain in Afghanistan, the CIA will continue its operations, other countries will be attacked from the soil of Afghanistan and the U.S. will have control over the region,” said Wahdat Millie Party spokesman Waheed Muzhda who attended the gathering on Sunday. “What is in it for Afghanistan? Afghans will achieve nothing but the hostility of countries in the region and war in Afghanistan will continue.”

According to those who gathered in Kabul for their very own Jirga, ironically, the continued presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, which is expected to be a provision of the BSA, would only perpetuate conflict in Afghanistan. They said the complete absence of foreign soldiers would open up opportunities to reconcile with the Taliban and usher in peace and stability after twelve years of war.

The most controversial item of the BSA in discussion to this point was the matter of criminal jurisdiction over U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan post-2014. Many Afghans have reservations about granting immunity to U.S. troops from prosecution in Afghan courts, especially considering the numerous examples of crimes committed by coalition soldiers and the few that saw no follow-up.

But the tribal elders and religious scholars on Sunday were unqualified in their objection to the BSA, setting their criticisms against the entire agreement and not just a single provision. And they resented Karzai for trying to shift responsibility for the agreement on to the people of Afghanistan by convening the Jirga.

“Karzai wants the innocent people of Afghanistan to sign the agreement, and hand over their honor and pride to the United States,” said religious scholar Ahmad Farid.

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