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Central Asia news

President of Afghanistan is through with "dangerous operations" of foreign contingents

25.06.2007 11:13 msk

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Afghanistan

President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai came up with unprecedented criticism of the United States and NATO. Almost 230 noncombatants perished in operations mounted by foreign contingents in this country in 2007 - almost as many as in all of 2006. More than 90 civilians including women and children died in the last ten days. "Life of an Afghani is not something cheap, so do not treat it in this manner," Karzai said in Kabul last Saturday. The president added that if NATO was determined to do away with terrorism and make Afghanistan safe, then it should cooperate with the government of the country in deeds, not just in words. "NATO forces should start doing here only what we tell them as of today. Period," Karzai said. The president accused the US military and its NATO allies of "dangerous operations" that cost noncombatants their lives.

Twenty-five civilians including nine women and three infants aged two to six months were killed by NATO bombs in the southern province of Gelment last Friday. More than 50 had perished in the course of the operation NATO contingents mounted in the province of Orugzan shortly before that.

In fact, the Pakistani authorities are also enraged at the loss of life among civilians. Official Islamabad claims that at least ten noncombatants (three of them children) perished under NATO bombs in Northern Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan. Spokesman for the Alliance explained that 50 or so Taliban gunmen amassed near the border on the territory of Afghanistan and "the operation against them eventually shifted to the Pakistani side of the border."

NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer demanded an investigation of the Gelment bombardment. Karzai will probably have to put up with its findings.

This pro-Western politician has been the president of Afghanistan for over five years now. Until now, he always welcomed presence of the foreign forces as the only guarantor of his regime, at least on the territories it controls. Exactly how he intends to tell NATO and the United States what to do is anybody's guess. Comprising contingents from 37 countries (all 26 NATO members and 11 allies), ISAF is more than 40,000 men strong. ISAF operates under the mandate approved by the UN Security Council and under the NATO aegis. In theory, Karzai may impose restrictions on foreign contingents' operations but it does not take a genius to guess that the Americans and their NATO allies will hit the roof. As far as Washington is concerned, national interests of all allies demand success of the "major and complicated" operation aimed to establish a stable and democratic Afghanistan. In fact, the skills in combating rebels and maintaining security with the simultaneous facilitation of development will determine the future of the Alliance. Nobody will permit Karzai to interfere with the process.

Human rights activists say in the meantime that almost 230 noncombatants perished in Afghanistan in the last six months (as many as in 2006). NATO ascribe this loss of life to the Talib tactic of using civilians as a live shield.

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Andrei Terekhov

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 25, 2007, p. 8

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru