WASHINGTON — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that the United States must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported.
The United States should end special operations forces raids that aggravate Afghans and could exacerbate the Taliban insurgency, Karzai said in an interview with the Post.
"The time has come to reduce military operations," the president told the paper.
"The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan ... to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life."
Karzai also said he wanted US troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only worsen the war, the Post reported.
However, a unnamed NATO military official expressed skepticism in comments to the paper.
"We understand President Karzai's concerns, but we would not be as far along as we are pressuring the network had it not been for these very precision operations we do at night," the official told the Post.
"I don't see any near-term alternative to this kind of operation."
Karzai told the Post he was speaking out not to criticize the United States but in the belief that candor could improve what he called a "grudging" relationship between the countries.
He described his own deep skepticism with US policy in Afghanistan, beginning with last year's presidential election, which he said was manipulated by US officials, the paper said.
He also expressed his conviction that government corruption had been caused by billions of US dollars funneled to unaccountable contractors, the Post noted.
Afghans had lost patience with the presence of American soldiers in their homes and armored vehicles on their roads, Karzai told the paper.
"The raids are a problem always. They were a problem then, they are a problem now. They have to go away," Karzai said.
"The Afghan people don't like these raids, if there is any raid it has to be done by the Afghan government within the Afghan laws. This is a continuing disagreement between us."
He acknowledged that an abrupt withdrawal would be dangerous, but said that US soldiers should confine themselves more to their bases and limit themselves to necessary operations along the Pakistani border, the Post said.
Karzai said he wanted the US government to apply more pressure on Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan while focusing on development projects and civilian assistance in Afghanistan, the report added.