Afghan leader demands NATO to stop night raids
KABUL / ISLAMABAD
US soldiers together with Afghan soldiers and Afghan National Police officers enter the front door of a suspected house during a night raid in this file photo. AFP photoAfghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday demanded an immediate halt to controversial NATO-led night raids and for foreign forces to stop entering Afghan homes as the chief of Pakistan’s senate defense committee said the CIA has stopped firing missiles at militants in Pakistan since last month’s deadly NATO airstrikes along the Afghan border so as not to “aggravate” already strained ties with Islamabad.
Javed Ashraf Qazi, the defense committee chief, said he believed the pause in attacks was because the U.S. “does not want to aggravate the situation any further.” Still, Qazai, a former army general who gets high-level briefings because of his position on the committee, said he believed that if the United States had a “high-level” target in its sights then, “I think they would go ahead” and launch a strike . “If they do so, the results could get worse,” he said.
Tensions between Pakistan and the United States are at their lowest ebb in years following the Nov. 26 airstrikes at the Pakistani army border outpost that killed 24 soldiers. The Pakistani army responded by closing its border with Afghanistan to trucks carrying U.S. and NATO war supplies. It is demanding a complete review of its relationship with Washington.
Karzai’s comments come after NATO on Dec. 19 defended the operations as the safest way of targeting insurgent leaders, insisting they will continue but with the increasing involvement of Afghan special forces. “The president of Afghanistan wants an immediate halt to the night raids and house searches of Afghans,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said. “He doesn’t want any foreigner to go to the homes of Afghans and search their homes.” Night-time raids are one of the most contentious issues in Afghanistan.
“What NATO officials say is in total contradiction to the decisions of the loya jirga, to the demands of the Afghan people reflected in the loya jirga, and it is in total contradiction to what the president of Afghanistan wants,” Faizi said.
“More importantly this will have a negative impact on the process of signing the strategic partnership document with the US.” On Dec. 19, spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson said in 85 percent of night raids not a single shot is fired and they cause less than one percent of civilian casualties.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.