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MPs ask govt to revisit security deal with US

KABUL: Frustrated over growing insecurity in much of the country, Wolesi Jirga members on Monday asked the government to revisit the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the United States.

The lower house members expressed these remarks after they were offered explanations by top security officials about factors behind the deteriorating security situation.

A day earlier, senior security officials, including interior minister, vice chief of army staff and the spymaster, appeared before the upper house, Meshrano Jirga, and on Wednesday last before a joint commission of both houses of parliament, explaining reasons behind the growing insecurity.

At today’s lower house session, some lawmakers suggested that the president, the chief executive officer and security bosses should be summoned to a general session.

But a lawmaker from northern Baghlan province, Obaidullah Ramin, opposed the idea, saying security officials spent much of their time offering explanations to parliament and its commissions instead of working in their offices.

He suggested security officials should be given at least three months to devise their plans on how to improve the country’s security situation because these officials had newly been appointed.

Lawmaker from Samangan province, Makhdom Abadullah Mohammadi, said Afghanistan’s security challenges could not be overcome by summoning security officials.

Mohammad Akbari from Bamyan province said summoning officials had no benefit. “We should not waste their time by summoning them again.”

Mohammad Sarwar Osmani from Farah province also held similar views, saying summoning security officials had no impact on the country’s security scenario.

He proposed that Afghanistan should buy weapons from China, Russia and India and bring into use all available resources.

Some lawmakers insisted the security deal with Washington should be reviewed for the sake of improvement in Afghanistan’s security situation.

Zakria Soda from northeastern Badakhshan province, the scene of a bloody insurgent attack recently, said Afghanistan had signed the security deal with the US in the hope that it would bring security, but the security situation had since been worsening.

“That’s why the deal should be reviewed. And if the United States does not assist Afghanistan in maintaining its security after the review, the deal should be scrapped,” he said.

Soon after his inauguration in September, President Ghani signed the BSA and a separate status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO.

The parliament approved both the agreements in November, allowing the US and NATO to keep some forces past 2014, amid a renewed offensive by the Taliban.

Qurban Kohistani, a lower house member from central Ghor province, also insisted the security agreement with the US should be reviewed, believing Americans had not arrived in Afghanistan to maintain its security. “The US has come here to train terrorists against its enemies,” he said.

Obaidullah Barakzai from Uruzgan province called for the BSA to be declared null and void as soon as possible because insecurity had increased after signing the deal.

“There are cries everywhere in Afghanistan. Daily fathers and mothers weep at the graves of their sons. Widows cry as they look at their children. Where are the bosses (Americans) with whom you signed the deal while clapping. You disconnected yourselves from God and the Quran and connected with infidels. Where is our spiritual father (US president Barack) Obama? He should now come and rescue us.”

Lawmaker from eastern Nangarhar province Hazrat Ali said Afghan security forces should hold serious talks with foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan on security. He asked lawmakers to stay firm on their statements because the country’s security situation was fast deteriorating.

“The government should maintain security. The government says Daesh is coming. Who are Daesh (Islamic State)…they are the people who had no regard for people’s honour. They are busy beheading our people.”

A number of lawmakers said a national consensus should be drawn regarding security maintenance and security officials given time to chalk out their plans.

Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said Wolesi Jirga’s commissions would discuss security issues tomorrow and would share the outcome of their discussions with the administrative board, which would then share the details with a general session for a decision. (PAN)

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