Afghanistan President Karzai Calls Countrymen Lions Who Want NATO Forces Out


KABUL – Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said there should be limits to what US and Nato troops could do in his country as the Afghan people were the “lions” in their territory. “America is powerful, has more money, but we are lions here. Lions have the habit of not liking strangers getting into their house,” CNN quoted Karzai as saying in a speech to tribal elders.

“We want our sovereignty from today. Our relations should be between two independent countries,” he said.

Karzai said the intended departure of Nato troops by 2014 was “good for Afghans”. The president called the national assembly – or loya jirga – to speak to the tribal elders on a long-term pact with the US military. The conditions he put out on a foreign military presence were mostly long-held Afghan complaints.

He said a deal that enabled US forces to have bases in Afghanistan was beneficial. But they would not be able to attack Afghanistan’s neighbours from inside the country, conduct night raids, search houses, or arrest Afghans. “I’d like to tell them they can’t arrest any Afghan on our soil and they can’t have prisons. We have a justice and security system and that is up to us,” he said.

Hundreds of community leaders have been invited from across the country to the national assembly. Troops, security officials, and police lined the roads outside the venue on the outskirts of Kabul. The Taliban have threatened to disrupt the event. On Monday, security forces killed a suicide bomber near the meeting site.