KABUL: An Afghan grand assembly began delivering its verdict on a crucial security pact with the United States (US) on Sunday, following concern over conditions attached by President Hamid Karzai and warnings from Washington.
The 50 committees of the “loya jirga” gathering of about 2,500 chieftains, tribal elders and politicians gave their assessment of the deal one by one at the conclusion of four days of discussions under tight security in Kabul.
Almost all of the first 20 committees to declare endorsed the painstakingly negotiated Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) governing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
Some even suggested adding an extra US base in the province of Bamiyan, while more than half of them urged Karzai to get the BSA signed into effect before the presidential election next year.
In his opening statement on Thursday, Karzai told the meeting that the deal would not be signed until after April’s poll—sparking a strong response from Washington, which wants it sealed by the end of this year.
Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said that the president would explain the reasons for his stance in his closing speech to the jirga.