Karzai wants US to cut back Afghan military operations


WASHINGTON: Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants the US military to scale back the visibility and intensity of its operations in Afghanistan and end night raids that he said incited people to join the Taliban insurgency, The Washington Post reported.
“The time has come to reduce military operations,” Karzai told the Post in an interview. “The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan … to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life.” The Post said his comments put him at odds with US General David Petraeus, who has made “capture-and-kill” missions a central part of ounterinsurgency strategy.
In the past three months, such night raids of Afghan homes by US Special Operations forces had killed or captured 368 insurgency leaders, the Post said. Karzai was quoted as saying his comments were not meant as criticism of Washington, adding that candor could improve what he termed a “grudging” relationship between the two countries.
A senior Afghan official was quoted by the newspaper as saying that Karzai had repeatedly criticized the night raids in meetings with Petraeus and was seeking veto power over the operations. “The raids are a problem always. They were a problem then, they are a problem now. They have to go away,” Karzai said in in the interview.
“The Afghan people don’t like these raids, if there is any raid it has to be done by the Afghan government within the Afghan laws. This is a continuing disagreement between us,” he said. Meanwhile, two foreign soldiers were killed by home-made bombs in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said in separate statements.
No further details were given in line with ISAF policy but police in Kandahar province told AFP that one of the blasts happened in Spin Boldak district, near the border with Pakistan. The deaths come after three foreign soldiers were killed on Saturday in an insurgent attack in the same volatile region, which is the focus of the counter-insurgency drive against the Taliban.
A total of 638 foreign troops have now been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an AFP count based on the independent icasualties.org web site, which tracks coalition fatalities and injuries.