Afghan president's visit to U.S. to be an opportunity to mend fences

08:16, May 11, 2010      

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai kicked off a four-day official visit to the United States on Sunday evening amid shaping ups and downs in bilateral relations over the past couple of months.

In a surprise move in early April, Karzai accused the U.S. and its western allied nations of corrupting the last year's Afghan presidential elections that enabled him to rule the war-torn country for the second five-year term.

He also warned that cooperation may change into occupation and militancy to resistance, according to media reports.

The astonishing allegations labeled just a week after U.S. President Barack Obama's brief tour to Afghanistan during which he invited his Afghan counterpart to visit White House on May 12.

The accusation has angered the U.S. and even authorities in White House spoke of possible cancellation of Karzai's visit to Washington.

U.S. authorities have been criticizing Karzai's administration over what they describe rampant corruption in the establishment calling on the Afghan government to crack down on corrupt officials and ensure good governance.

On the other hand, Mohammad Yasin Usmani, head of government- backed Anti-Corruption Directorate emphasized that 80 percent of corruption is committed by foreigners involved in Afghanistan.

Amidst trading accusations, the Afghan government has opposed launching military offensive against Taliban militants in Kandahar as Karzai during his visit to Kandahar categorically said that no operation is allowed without locals' consent.

Harming civilians during military operations is a matter of concern for the Afghan government and President Karzai time and again emphasized that civilian casualties in the war were harming the anti-insurgent efforts and war on terror.

With the perspective of upheaval in Kabul-Washington relations and increasing militancy in the country, the visit was interpreted as crucial as the Afghan government alone is not able to tackle the problems laying ahead.

A high-ranking delegation including 10 cabinet ministers is accompanying the president in his tour to Washington.

Ahead of Karzai's departure for the United States, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul described the visit as "very significant for bilateral relations between Kabul and Washington."

Furthermore, the crucial visit is taking place amid losing popularity of the U.S. and the NATO-led troops in war on terror and tumbling down Karzai's reputation at the eyes of Afghans.

Many Afghans who have been fed up with continued war, security incidents and poverty are of the view that the NATO-led troops are playing the war of mouse and cat with militants in Afghanistan and the unending game would continue for the years to come.

The U.S. has been blaming the Afghan administration for the mess while Kabul lashing back, saying disharmony with the Afghan authorities would neither serve the Afghan government nor the war against terrorism.

The U.S. anti-terrorism strategy, in the eyes of Afghans, has failed to deliver as Taliban-linked insurgency has been increased and expanded from troubled southern region to the relatively peaceful northern provinces.

In parts of the countryside, locals approach Taliban mobile courts to settle differences over lands and other disputes.

Before leaving for the U.S. the Afghan President planned to convene a national consultative peace Jirga or assembly to find ways and means for bolstering national reconciliation program but was postponed.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that it is too early to talk with Taliban and the associated insurgent groups.

Before leaving for the United States, the Afghan leader in an article published in the U.S. influential daily the Washington Post, once again repeated his determination in fighting corruption and ensuring good governance.

In addition to thanking the U.S. for its support in war against terrorism, the Afghan leader stressed that overcoming terrorism requires honest cooperation of regional countries and continued support of international community.

To win the war on terror, it is essential for the U.S. to win the mind and hearts of Afghans and restore the credibility of NATO- led forces in the eyes of Afghans by showing more support in rebuilding process.

Many Afghans believed that abandoning Afghanistan by international community while Afghan national security forces are not strong enough would prove catastrophe and world community would experience more 9/11 like attacks.

Source: Xinhua
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