Share This Page

Deadline for U.S. security detail top topic for debate

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Tackling topics ranging from the Taliban to the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan, candidates battling to replace President Hamid Karzai faced off on Tuesday in the first televised debate of a crucial election campaign.

The presidential race is playing out in the run-up to the planned withdrawal of NATO combat troops, and the vote on April 5 will be a crucial test of whether the country can ensure a stable transition after years of war and while facing a Taliban insurgency that has vowed it will attempt to disrupt the poll.

With Karzai ineligible to run for a third term, a successful election would mark Afghanistan's first real democratic transfer of power.

Hanging over the campaign is a question about a security deal between the United States and Afghanistan to allow a small number of American troops to stay in the country and continue training Afghan security forces after NATO's combat mission ends in December 2014.

Karzai has been refusing to sign the deal despite pressure from Washington, placing the issue front and center for the 11 candidates vying to succeed him.

On a snowy Tuesday night in Kabul, five of those candidates took their places behind podiums in front of a studio audience.

After each of the candidates — Abdullah Abdullah, runner-up in the 2009 election; former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul, ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani, ex-defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Karzai's brother, Qayyum Karzai — gave a brief opening statement, the questions began.

The U.S. security deal took center stage right off the bat, with Qayyum Karzai, Ghani and Rassoul all expressing their support for its signing. The remaining two candidates were not asked the question.

“The security forces and the people of Afghanistan will not have the ability to function on their own,” Qayyum Karzai said.

Abdullah echoed his sentiments, adding that “support from the international community to our security forces will help our security.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.