FROM LEFT: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their meeting in Ankara yesterday.
ANKARA: Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday said Washington should respect his country’s judicial authority after the release of 65 alleged Taliban fighters triggered US condemnation.
“Afghanistan is a sovereign country. If Afghan judicial authorities decide to release prisoners, considered by Washington to pose a security threat, it is of no concern to the US and should be of no concern to it,” Karzai told a news conference in the Turkish capital.
“I hope the US will stop harassing Afghanistan’s procedures and judicial authority,” he said, threatening to inflame strained ties.
He was speaking after a meeting with President Abdullah Gul and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The Afghan government released 65 detainees, who the US military, which still has about 38,000 troops in the country, said should be tried in Afghan courts.
The release of 65 alleged Taliban fighters poses serious security concerns and sets back the rule of law, Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels.
“I am gravely concerned by the decision,” he said in a statement, noting that the released prisoners were alleged to have killed and wounded Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces and US-led Nato forces.
Rasmussen said the decision appeared to have been “based on political calculations and... is a major step backwards for the rule of law in Afghanistan and poses serious security concerns.”
The Afghan government has “to uphold the rule of law and ensure the security of the country,” he said, calling on Kabul to make sure those released do not pose a further threat.
The US embassy in Kabul said the prisoner release was “deeply regrettable.” “The Afghan government bears responsibility for the results of its decision. We urge it to make every effort to ensure that those released do not commit new acts of violence and terror.”
Karzai has called Bagram prison where the men were held a “Taliban-producing factory” and alleged some detainees were tortured into hating their country.
Some analysts believe he hopes the releases could help start talks with the Taliban. Agencies