Kabul, Nov 15 (ANI): Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has urged the US to reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in his country and end the increased American Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could embolden Taliban insurgents.
The Washington Post quoted Karzai as saying that he wanted American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes, and that the long-term presence of huge number of foreign soldiers would only worsen the war.
"The time has come to reduce military operations. The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan . . . to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life," Karzai said.
"The raids are a problem always. They were a problem then, they are a problem now. They have to go away," Karzai said. "The Afghan people don't like these raids, if there is any raid it has to be done by the Afghan government within the Afghan laws. This is a continuing disagreement between us," he added.
His comments placed him at odds with U.S. commander General David H. Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counterinsurgency strategy. Petraeus claims that 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating back the insurgency.
According to Karzai, Afghans have lost patience with the presence of American soldiers in their homes and armored vehicles on their roads, and added that his troops were ready to take more responsibility for their own security.
He further stated that his comments were not meant to criticise the United States but in the belief that candor could improve what he called a "grudging" relationship between the countries.
Karzai has long been publicly critical of civilian casualties at the hands of U.S. and NATO troops and has repeatedly called for curtailing night raids into Afghan homes.
Under Petraeus and his predecessor, such raids by U.S. Special Operations troops have increased sharply, to about 200 a month, or six times the number being carried out 18 months ago, a senior NATO military official said.
These operations capture or kill their target 50 to 60 percent of the time, the official added.
On the issue of negotiations with the Taliban, Karzai said that he met with Taliban leaders in "one or two" meetings about three months ago, but that the talks were in a nascent stage and amounted to little more than "the exchange of desires for peace." (ANI)