Afghanistan will not be bullied into signing a security pact allowing US troops to stay on after next year, President Hamid Karzai said as he pressed India on Friday for more military hardware.
Karzai met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and foreign minister Salman Khurshid at the start of a three-day visit, with the United States hoping New Delhi can persuade him to ink the troubled pact.
India-educated Karzai has close ties with India, which is keen to ensure that the exit of some 75,000 US-led Nato troops at the end of 2014 does not trigger a return to power of the hardline Taliban militia. But speaking to Indian television, Karzai said he would not be “intimidated” into signing the pact which would allow 12,000 US troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 and sets out their terms of engagement.
“Aggressive rhetoric won’t work... We are not a nation that is known for giving into intimidation,” he told NDTV. But he later said the agreement could only be signed after the presidential election in April, warning against a NATO presence if it just meant “more bombs and killings”.
His stance has outraged US officials and lawmakers, who have threatened a complete pullout if Karzai does not sign by the end of the year.
James Dobbins, the US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, this week told a Senate Committee he hoped India could help persuade Karzai to ink the agreement.