By Abdul Haleem
KABUL, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has told the media that the U.S. and foreign troops would no longer wage war against the Taliban after 2014, saying that they have to chase the al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in their sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan and not inside the country.
In a press conference held in his fortified Palace on Jan. 14, Karzai also officially announced that the U.S. administration has agreed to hand over the notorious Bagram detention center to the Afghan government.
Hundreds of Taliban militants and al-Qaida loyalists are still detained at the Bagram prison.
To encourage them to give up fighting, the President also called on Taliban insurgents who think of Afghanistan and want to participate in rebuilding their embattled country to return to the fold of the laws and resume normal life.
Karzai also assured the nation that after the complete pullout of all foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2014, the country will be more stable and peaceful.
But just two days after Karzai's optimistic remarks on the country's future, a major attack against the country's National Directorate for Security (NDS) or national spy agency in Kabul city occurred on Wednesday killing six people, presumably the attackers, while 30 others, all civilians, were injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
During his three-day official visit to Washington, D.C. that ended on Jan. 11, President Karzai had extensive talks with U.S. officials led by President Barack Obama on topics that include the future of Afghanistan, the two countries' bilateral relations, peace talks with Taliban, and the forging of a security pact that would govern the security arrangement with the U.S. after the 2014 pullout.
The President said that the Afghan traditional Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of elders and tribal chieftains, will decide whether U.S. troops will enjoy immunity from prosecution after 2014.
Immunity from local suits for their forces while serving in Afghanistan has been the most contentious issue in the proposed security accord between the two countries.
Echoing President Karzai's remarks, Masuom Stanikzai, secretariat chief of the government-backed peace body, the High Peace Council, told journalists on Tuesday that the Taliban have no more reason to fight the government since the U.S. has already agreed to turn over Bagram prison to Afghan forces and to complete their pullout in 2014.
But the Taliban, which has been fighting both the Afghan government and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force ( ISAF) over the past decade, has repeatedly turned down the government's peace offer.
The Taliban has also scored the Karzai government for negotiating a security pact with the U.S. and insisted on an unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces before it would negotiate with the government.
In a statement posted on its website, the Taliban described the proposed security pact with U.S. as a personal act of President Karzai with U.S. administration, noting such agreement would have no legitimacy and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (old name of Taliban ousted regime) would continue its jihad or holy war against all foreign troops like what they have been doing in the past 11 years.
In its statement, the Taliban also described the U.S. long-term presence in Afghanistan as the main cause of instability in the region as it called on regional and western nations to help push all American forces out of Afghanistan.
The Taliban said the proposed security pact with the U.S. would "sell" the country's independence to the U.S, as it vowed to thwart its signing.
In an article posted on its website Thursday, the Taliban said that granting judicial immunity to American soldiers is in fact granting permanent presence of U.S. military in Afghanistan, which would eventually enable the occupying troops "to control Afghanistan and monitor neighboring states."