April 19, 2011
KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday urged a high-level visiting US delegation to scale back night raids and military operations causing civilian casualties.
The call came as he met John Boehner, US House Speaker, who is leading a six-member delegation from the House of Representatives which also visited Pakistan this week.
“The president of Afghanistan said the people of Afghanistan highly appreciate the assistance given by the US in the past 10 years but they want the US military to seriously reconsider arbitrary and night search operations and those operations that cause civilian casualties,” a statement from Karzai’s office said.
Civilian casualties during military operations and night raids are highly sensitive issues in Afghanistan and are a repeated source of tension between Karzai’s administration and its Western backers.
There are around 130,000 international troops, two-thirds of them from the US, fighting an insurgency waged by the Taliban since the Islamist militants were toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.
A limited withdrawal of foreign troops is scheduled to begin in July, when Afghan forces will take control of security in a handful of areas ahead of a planned full transition of responsibility to Afghan troops and police by 2014.
Boehner is the most senior Republican in the US Congress and second in line for the country’s presidency after Vice President Joe Biden