Afghan forces to take control in 7 areas: Karzai

Hamid Karzai
Kabul, Mar 22: Afghan President Hamid Karzai today said that his security forces will soon take charge of security in seven areas around the nation, the first step toward his goal of having Afghan police and soldiers protecting the entire nation by the end of 2014.

In a speech today in Kabul, Karzai said the provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan, Herat in the west, Mazer-e-Sharif in the north and Mehterlam in the east are slated for transition from NATO-led forces to Afghan soldiers and police beginning in July.

In addition, all of Bamiyan and Panshir provinces, which have seen little to no fighting, are on the transition list. Also slated for transition is Kabul province except for the restive Surobi district, which is along a main route to the Pakistan border and in proximity to dangerous areas of neighbouring provinces, he said.

"The Afghan nation doesn't want the defence of this country to be in the hands of others anymore," Karzai told hundreds of dignitaries and Afghan police and soldiers at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan in the capital.

He struck a nationalistic chord in his speech, which was peppered with criticism of the international effort. Karzai said that the transition process would expand from the capitals to the provinces.

"This is our responsibility to raise our flag with honor and pride," he said.

Karzai also reiterated his call for the Taliban to join the peace process. He also said that night raids, civilian casualties and irresponsible arrests have bolstered the insurgency. The death of civilians must end, he said.

A series of recent airstrikes that have lead to the death of numerous civilians have seriously eroded relations between Karzai and the US-led military coalition.

He emphasised that the war against militants should not be fought in the villages of Afghanistan, but should be directed at the "roots and safe havens."

It was a veiled reference to neighbouring Pakistan where insurgents plot attacks out of reach of Afghan and coalition troops.


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