(KABUL, Afghanistan) — The U.S. and Afghanistan are on the verge of a deal that would give President Hamid Karzai’s government more control over covert nighttime raids on Afghan homes, a practice that has driven a wedge between the once tight relations between the two countries.
American and Afghan officials familiar with knowledge of the deal say the Afghan military would take the lead role in the raids designed to hunt down Taliban militants while the U.S. would have some say in how the actual raids are conducted.
The nighttime raids have been a thorn in Karzai’s side because innocent civilians have been caught in the crossfire.
Furthermore, ordinary Afghans have not been able to distinguish the difference between the raids and an incident last month in which 17 civilians were slain allegedly at the hands of an American Army sergeant.
A pact on the nighttime raids as well as the transfer of control of Bagram prison to the Afghan military should help repair relations between Washington and Kabul.
An agreement was due to have been signed Wednesday, but there is an apparent hold-up over who gets custody of detainees in the raids once a warrant is issued. The U.S. would like at least temporary custody in order to interrogate prisoners.
If and when the pact does get agreed upon, the U.S. and Afghanistan can move forward on a strategic deal that will outline responsibilities once Americans and NATO forces are withdrawn from the country in 2014.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN