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Wed, Jun

Atmar: Parliament knows importance of security deals

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National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar on Monday said the government was duty-bound to answer questions from parliamentarians about the security agreements with the United States and NATO.

After attending a closed-door Wolesi Jirga session, Atmar told reporters that the Parliament understood the importance of the accords and hoped the assembly would decide in the country’s interest.Atmar along with Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani, Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and deputy Defence Minister Inayatullah Nazari were summoned to the Wolesi Jirga to brief lawmakers about the security deals.But Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the government had requested that the session should be conducted behind closed door. The session lasted three hours.The new government concluded the bilateral security agreement with the US and a status of security forces agreement with NATO soon after its inauguration.After the session, Atmar told reporters that the government was proud of presenting the two agreements to the parliament for a review in order the assembly could take a decision under the law.“We provided all information the Wolesi Jirga had asked for. We have faith in the national assembly and we hope its decision will be in the country’s interest,” said the national security advisor to President Ahmadzai.He said today’s discussions showed the august house understood the importance of the two agreements and the accords would be endorsed like strategic agreements.Abdul Qadir Zazi, who heads lower house committee on foreign affairs, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Atmar answered all questions and concerns raised by MPs about the agreement with the United States.He said Atmar told the house that after the BSA’s ratification, American troops stationed in Afghanistan would no longer search houses of Afghans and would not conduct unilateral operations and would shut down prisons run by them.However, he said lawmakers were divided on the agreements, with some supporting the accords and others opposing them.Mohammad Farhad Azimi, who represents northern Balkh province, said some lawmakers were against the security agreement with the US, but a majority of them wanted the accord to be ratified.“There was no need for a closed-door session. We discussed what the public already know,” he said.The two agreements were sent to the lower house few days ago for approval as required by the country’s Constitution.The new government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, concluded the crucial security pacts last month, paving the way for about 12,000 foreign troops to remain in the country after year's end and ensuring that aid money keeps flowing to Kabul.The long-delayed agreements were signed a day after President Ashraf Ghani took office. Combined, the security deals will allow international troops to remain in Afghanistan after December to focus on two missions: training Afghan security forces and conducting counterterrorism operations.Under the BSA, the residual American troops will be stationed in Bagram, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Shindand, Gardez and Helmand to train and equip Afghan forces.If an American soldier commits a crime in Afghanistan, he will be prosecuted in home country under the security agreement, which former president Hamid Karzai had refused to sign despite its approval by a Loya Jirga he had called into session. Karzai believed the agreement would undermine peace talks with the Taliban.He had preconditions for concluding the accord, including no nighttime raids on civilian homes and a US guarantee to bring the rebels to the negotiating table with his government.