Karzai says Bagram handover to happen this week
12 March, 2013
KABUL: President Hamid Karzai said the full transfer of Bagram prison from US to Afghan authority will be completed this week after the two countries failed again to meet the latest deadline set for March 9.
Karzai's office released a statement after the president met with the top US commander in Afghanistan Gen Joseph Dunford, saying that the handover will definitely happen this week.
"President Hamid Karzai and Nato/Isaf Commander Gen. Dunford agreed that the full transfer of Bagram prison, initially set for Saturday, March 9 will now take place during this week, allowing time for some of the remaining technical details concerning the handover to be resolved," the statement said.
It is understood that the latest stumbling block to the handover was Karzai objecting to the US still controlling aspects of prisoner releases.
Some political leaders have welcomed the US reluctance to give full authority to Afghan government in light of Karzai's partiality to releasing Taliban.
"One of Karzai's goals is to have no Taliban in prisons and have them released," Fazlurrahman Oria, National Coalition party member said.
Hamidullah Farouqi, member of the Right and Justice party, said there are fears that such prisoner release plans would be swayed by personal interests.
"We should have doubts that these reactions [of releasing prisoners] are based on personal tastes and seeking political interests. Unfortunately, such reactions would be very dangerous," he said.
Gen Dunford has agreed to work with the Afghan government on the final details including the legal aspects required for the complete handover to take place this current week, Karzai's office said.
These details are believed to include the matter of prisoner release and detainment of foreign prisoners captured in Afghan-coalition operations.
The initial Bagram transfer agreement was signed one year ago and had a September 2012 deadline.
Karzai has repeatedly decried the US reluctance as an affront to Afghanistan's sovereignty.
He stressed this point again in Sunday's statement, saying that all efforts must be made to make sure the handover happens this week so that Afghanistan's sovereignty can come into full exercise.
The agreement has come to the fore during the visit of newly-appointed US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel who arrived in Afghanistan on Friday.
Karzai had announced in a speech to Parliament last Wednesday that the full handover would happen Saturday, but on Saturday it was delayed over the disagreements.