President Hamid Karzai on Sunday urged Afghans to avoid violent retaliation for the burning of a pile of Korans at the main US military base in Afghanistan last week and called for the punishment of those behind the act, which sparked nationwide protests.
Karzai also voiced his support for Nato’s decision Saturday to recall its personnel from Afghan ministries after two US service members were killed by an Afghan security official in the country’s heavily protected Interior Ministry earlier in the day. Karzai described the move as “temporary” and justifiable in the face of the attacks and spreading protests.
The deaths at the ministry in Kabul — by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform — follows Thursday’s assassination of two US troops by an Afghan soldier during protesters’ attack on a US base in the east.
More than 25 Afghans have died in the demonstrations, and the service members’ killings prompted London to pull its civilian advisers from Afghan ministries, according to British media.
During days of demonstrations across the country, many protesters pushed for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and chanted slogans against the United States and Karzai.
Protesters and Afghan Islamic clerics have demanded the parliament and government to put those responsible for the Koran burnings on trial. The resurgent Taliban has urged Afghans ignore apologies from US authorities over the apparent inadvertent act and urged retaliation against Western installations and military personnel.
However, Karzai, while pushing for the punishment of those responsible for Koran burning, has called called on his countrymen to not resort to violence because he said the insurgents and their foreign backers would manipulate their protests.
“Now is the time to return to calm and not let the enemies of peace and development to use this situation,” Karzai said on Sunday.
In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post.