Polls impossible if BSA not inked: Sherzai

KABUL (Pajhwok): Prominent presidential runner Gul Agha Sherzai on Sunday warned holding the April elections would be impossible if the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was not signed with Washington.
But President Hamid Karzai has linked singing of the crucial pact with a free and fair ballot, result-oriented peace negotiations with Taliban and a halt to raids on civilian homes.
Addressing a press conference in Kabul, the former Nangarhar governor said: “I’m uncertain about elections in Afghanistan if the BSA is not signed.”
Calling 2014 a crucial year for Afghanistan’s future, he acknowledged the country remained dependent on international aid, particularly assistance from the US and NATO-led troops, to stabilise economy and security.
He underlined the need for abiding by the decision of the consultative Loya Jirga on the BSA, saying Washington was providing Afghanistan with $2.2 billion annually in development assistance but the impasse prompted Congress to cut the aid by 50 percent.
The assistance was curtailed due to the ongoing deadlock between President Hamid Karzai and the US, he claimed, asking Washington not to slash aid to Afghanistan due to the presidential stance.
“BSA should not be held hostage to one’s personal interests. I call on President Karzai to ward off a looming disaster and sign the agreement as soon as possible,” he suggested.
By the same token, he called on presidential candidates, political parties, prominent figures and civil society networks to forge unity in their ranks for early signing of the security pact.

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