Civilian deaths prompt Afghan leader to question U.S. military operations
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday appeared to call for NATO and the United States to cease military operations in Afghanistan, but then issued a clarification saying that he was referring only to specific operations that had caused civilian casualties, The New York Times reported late Saturday.
In a speech in eastern Kunar province, Karzai told relatives and neighbors of civilian victims that he sympathized with their plight. “With great honor and with great respect, and humbly rather than with arrogance, I request that NATO and America should stop these operations on our soil,” the Times reported Karzai as saying. “This war is not on our soil. If this war is against terror, then this war is not here, terror is not here.”
His remarks were made at a memorial service for the victims, in the presence of local officials as well as the second highest ranking American general in Afghanistan, Gen. David Rodriguez. “Our demand is that this war should be stopped,” Karzai is quoted as saying. “This is the voice of Afghanistan.”
Whether his remarks were premeditated, taken out of context or just emotion, his speech was perhaps another sign of a deteriorating relationship between the Afghan president and the United States military command the Times noted.
American officials were angered by Karzai’s remarks, one official told the Times on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the dispute with the Afghan president.