The Wall Street Journal reports:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Tuesday for an immediate halt to coalition air strikes on civilian homes and threatened to take unilateral action to block such attacks if international forces don’t take him seriously.
Three days after an errant U.S. air strike killed as many as 12 Afghan women and children in southern Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai called a press conference to criticize the international alliance.
“The Afghan people can no longer tolerate these attacks on their homes,” Mr. Karzai said during the televised news conference. “Nobody has the right to take the life of an Afghan child.”
While Mr. Karzai has no significant authority to block the air strikes, his threats could inflame passions across Afghanistan and undermine the fragile working relationship with Western leaders as the U.S. military prepares to begin withdrawing thousands of troops this summer.
Western officials in Kabul said that relations between Mr. Karzai and the U.S.-led coalition have been deteriorating and the Afghan president took repeated jabs at military leaders during his hour-long press conference.
“We must clearly demonstrate our understanding that Afghanistan is an ally, not an occupied country,” Mr. Karzai told reporters. “And our treatment with NATO is from the point of view of an ally. If it turns to the other, to the behavior of an occupation, then of course the Afghan people know how to deal with that.”