Karzai to foes: Protect national interest


KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai, asserting his government’s respect for democratic norms, on Tuesday asked his political opponents to avoid actions that harmed Afghanistan’s national interest.

Governments around the globe had political foes who worked within the framework of different parties, Karzai told a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. However, he said opposition and ruling parties remained on the same page on issues of national importance.

“The opposition reserves every to take a critical look at every act of the government and come up with a better suggestion,” Karzai said, explaining: “Opposition to the government doesn’t mean aversion to the national interest…and foreign investment. It should not encourage insecurity.”

On Sunday, the National Security Council (NSC) blamed Junbish-i-Millie leader Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum for trying to create hurdles to the exploration of oil and gas at the Amu River basin, branded him as a traitor and referred to the Attorney General Office (AGO).

Last year, Afghanistan signed a deal with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) for the development of oil blocks in the Amu River basin in the northern provinces of Sar-i-Pul and Faryab.

Reacting to the development, Afghanistan National Front leader Ahmad Zia Massoud on Monday accused the government of seeking to perpetuate its rule through undemocratic means such as implicating political foes in “trumped-up cases”.

Massoud said Dostum was accused of national betrayal after he asked Karzai’s cousin, who owns a company involved in the exploration process, to hire locals. He added the Uzbek leader wanted jobs for the people who had no food or other basic facilities.

For his part, Karzai insisted that the NSC decision was based on “a report from the Ministry of Mines that problems are being created for Chinese investment in exploration and extraction of oil and subsequently we took that step”.

He said attempts at scuttling the project, which would create jobs for a large number of Afghans besides boosting the country’s economy, amounted to damaging the core national interest. The AGO had been tasked with a transparent investigation into the allegations, he said.

In response to criticism from his rivals, the president acknowledged: “Like other countries, Afghanistan is faced with certain domestic problems. But we should try to resolve them in a way that doesn’t aggrieve the people, as was the case in the past…”

Despite foreign meddling and domestic challenges over the past decade, Karzai said his administration had done its bit to expand Afghanistan’s relations with regional states, and the world at large.

He characterised recent strategic deals with the US, India, Germany, the UK, Italy and France as important for Afghanistan in terms of international support. Similar agreements would be inked shortly with Turkey and Norway, he indicated.

Over the next two years, the government would focus on combating administrative corruption, ensuring good governance and security, as well as strengthening the economy, the president promised. He billed 2013 and 2014 as crucial years, urging all Afghans to work sincerely for the country’s development.

With the reconciliation effort ongoing, the High Peace Council chairman would soon visit Saudi Arabia to drum up support for the process, Karzai announced. Additionally, Pakistan’s prime minister and foreign minister would come to Kabul, he said, without giving specific dates.


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