Karzai: Afghan Civilian Deaths Could Undermine US Pact

Posted May 8th, 2012 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has warned that civilian casualties inflicted by NATO airstrikes could undermine the recently signed strategic partnership with the United States.

A statement issued by the presidential office late Monday said that “if the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the document would lose its meaning.”

The Afghan leader was referring to the reported killing of a civilian family of six in an airstrike in southern Helmand province last week.

Mr. Karzai summoned the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General John Allen, and U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker to his palace Monday to discuss the issue.

In violence Tuesday, four employees of the provincial education directorate and a bodyguard were shot dead in eastern Paktika province when militants ambushed their vehicles.

Another seven police officers were killed in two separate incidents in the west and east of the country. Afghan officials say five police died in western Farah province when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, while the remaining two were killed in an ambush in eastern Logar province.

The United Nations says last year was the deadliest for Afghan civilians, with 3,021 killed — mostly by militants.

The Afghan-US strategic partnership pact covers security, economics and governance and spells out the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan beyond 2014, when most NATO forces are planning to conclude their combat role. It does not commit the United States to any specific troop presence but pledges American aid for Afghanistan for a decade after the withdrawal of the last U.S. soldiers.

The agreement allows the U.S. to keep a reduced number of troops in Afghanistan after the war ends for the continued training of Afghan forces and targeted operations against al-Qaida. The terror group is present in neighboring Pakistan but has only a nominal presence inside Afghanistan.