Afghanistan: Civilian killings by foreign troops main instability source

NATO and the U.S. "must "review the military and security strategy" by coordinating operations with the Afghan government said Karzai.

Afghanistan: Civilian killings by foreign troops main instability source

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday the killing of civilians by foreign troops was a main source of instability in Afghanistan, and urged the West to review its strategy in Afghanistan and delivering aid.

Karzai, facing elections due in September, has hit back denouncing the repeated killing of Afghan civilians in air strikes by U.S. and NATO forces.

"This persecutes us," Karzai said of the killings. "Our international friends should know that it is a physical and mental obsession," he told the annual opening of parliament.

Nearly 2,000 civilians were killed by foreign troops in Afghanistan last year, security experts say. Overall, more than 5,000 people were killed in 2008 in the deadliest year since the U.S.-led invasion.

NATO and the U.S. military which have some 70,000 troops in Afghanistan must "review the military and security strategy" by coordinating operations with the Afghan government in order to cut the number of civilian casualties, Karzai said.

The president said he had raised the issue of civilian casualties and good governance with U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden during his visit to Afghanistan last week. Biden proposed the formation of a bilateral commission to tackle the issues, Karzai said.

President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office later on Tuesday, has pledged to make Afghanistan a top policy priority.

"Fed up"

The speaker of the upper house of parliament, Sibghatullah Mojadidi, warned of further unrest if civilian casualties were not stopped.

"We are fed up ... this is really an important issue and I fear that, God forbid, the Afghan nation will rise up. I have told my American brothers and friends to exercise caution and if the nation does rise, the situation will be worse than Iraq," he told parliament.

Karzai said administrative corruption, the booming drugs trade and attacks by Taliban insurgents were the other reasons of instability.

Karzai conceded there was corruption within his government, but added the problem was more pronounced in the handling of international aid.

Less corruption in international aid and development contracts would also reduce graft within his government, Karzai said, urging donors to channel more assistance through his administration.

Karzai called on Taliban-led insurgents to give up resistance against his government and foreign troops, and vowed to protect "the honour and property" of those who did so.

The Taliban insurgency has spread from the south and east in the last two years to areas closer to the capital, Kabul. They have rejected invasion of U.S-led foreign troops in Afghanistan. They have also challenged Afghan president's cooperation with "occupier" powers.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2009, 15:04
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