WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Afghanistan would sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the US in the very first week of him becoming president, frontrunner Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai told a Washington audience on Friday.
In a rare address through Skype to the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based eminent think tank, Ghani insisted the BSA was in Afghanistan’s national interest and essential for regional and global peace.
Ahmadzai, who is pitted against Dr Abdullah Abdullah in the runoff presidential election, said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture.
“Public has spoken to reject violence and embrace democracy. The youth, who form the majority in the country, instead of taking to the street to overthrow a regime like in the Arab Spring, is engaging in constructive politics.”
Confident of his victory in the June 14 election, the former World Bank economist said he would sign the BSA in the first week of being elected.
He welcomed US President Barack Obama’s recent announcement to keep nearly 10,000 troops post 2014 in Afghanistan before a complete withdrawal by 2016.
Ghani, who represented the Afghan government in negotiations over the BSA with US officials, believed Afghanistan required continued international commitment.
The presidential hopeful said the US had earlier made a commitment to keep its forces for another 10 years, a timeline Obama reduced to just two years.
“(This means) we need to accelerate our equipping and training programme,” said Ghani, who oversaw the security transition process from foreign troops to their Afghan counterparts.
He said the US exit strategy put to an end all excuses the Taliban used about the long-term US presence in Afghanistan, saying that peace would top his agenda for the next two years. Ghani said regional co-operation was crucial for durable peace in Afghanistan.