Karzai seeks US protection against Pakistan: NYT


Hamid Karzai wants to sign a long-term bilateral security agreement with the United States to compel it to protect Afghanistan against Pakistan.
Officials close to the Afghan president quoted by US newspaper The New York Times said that Karzai also seeks direct military action by the US against Taliban havens on Pakistani soil.
The officials added that Karzai was keen that the US should proceed on the peace process on his terms to resume peace process with the militants.
According to the newspaper, the sudden return of the Taliban group in peace talks in June seemed like a potential coup for the American diplomacy and now persuading a “frustrated” Karzai to restore his delegation to talks would likely take more than the US would be willing to deliver.
Karzai also wants a firm commitment on the number of American troops that would stay in Afghanistan past next year, and a lead role in peace efforts, officials close to Karzai said.
“All of that is rooted in one of Mr Karzai’s core beliefs, according to those who know him: that the central challenge facing his government is not the Taliban insurgency, but rather in bringing the United States around to his way of thinking,” the paper noted in its report.
An Afghan official told the newspaper, “Assurances that America will take care of us will no longer do for the president. To move forward, Karzai wants ‘certainties’.”
According to the newspaper, the developments around the Qatar peace opening seemed to be ripped directly from Karzai’s personal nightmare script that his government would be marginalised in Washington’s endgame in Afghanistan.
“He has long voiced suspicions about American-orchestrated Taliban talks, and he recently has told those around him that the Qatar process could result in a separate peace deal between the United States, the Taliban and the group’s backers in Pakistan, and perhaps even his political opponents within Afghanistan as well,” the paper said.
It also added that the fact that the Taliban have pointedly refused to say they would talk with Karzai’s government even as they state their willingness to talk to the Americans has only reinforced his concerns.
The New York Times also added that Karzai during his meeting with the British prime minister made it clear and told reporters that foreigners should not use the Afghan peace process for their goals and objectives.
The paper also said that Karzai’s increasingly harsh response to US initiatives in recent years has struck some officials as verging on paranoia. But Afghans close to him say it is consistent with his view of the US as an unreliable ally.