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Iran Gives $25 Million To Afghan MPs To Vote Against Afghan-U.S. Strategic Partnership Pact

An Afghan website reports that Iran has earmarked $25 million to be given to Afghan lawmakers in exchange for their vote against the Afghan-U.S. Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai recently.

The bilateral agreement is scheduled for a parliamentary vote tomorrow (May 26, 2012). According to a report on the Afghan website pajhwok.com, "a colossal amount of money" has been given by Iran to Hazrat Ali, a member of Afghan parliament, to persuade other lawmakers to vote against the pact, a charge denied by the Iranians.

Following are excerpts from the report:[1]

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Afghan Lawmaker Hazar Ali "Is Believed To Have Paid Between $5,000 To $10,000 Each To MPs Who Are Ready To Ensure That The Pact Will Fail To Pass Through [Parliament]"

"Iran has earmarked $25 million for blocking the parliamentary approval of the Afghan-U.S. Strategic Partnership Agreement, a knowledgeable source said on Thursday, [May 24, 2012]. The neighboring country has allegedly paid a colossal amount of money to Wolesi Jirga [parliament] member Hazrat Ali in return for opposing the deal...

"Although the Iranian embassy in Kabul denied the claim as preposterous, the source insisted that Hazrat Ali – a public representative from Nangarhar province – had been tasked with convincing other MPs to reject the agreement. Already endorsed by foreign affairs commissions in both houses [of the Afghan parliament], the accord is expected to be presented for approval before the Wolesi Jirga on Saturday, [May 26, 2012].

"Other countries in the region have not yet overtly opposed the agreement, but the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan recently met the Senate chairman in Kabul and urged him to block its approval. A knowledgeable source, who did not wish to be named, confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that Hazrat Ali would distribute the cash to other legislators. Ali is believed to have paid between $5,000 to $10,000 each to MPs who are ready to ensure that the pact fails to pass through the assembly.

"The official, refusing to specify the amount [given to] the recipients of the Iranian money, revealed that the spouse of Ali – a former warlord – was an Iranian citizen and that he owned a residence in Mashhad, [Iran]. Despite serious efforts, Pajhwok could not reach Ali for comment. His side of the story, whenever this news agency receives it, will be duly publicized.

"On International Mother's Day, which was celebrated on May 13, Pakistani and Iranian spy services paid $10,000 to each of the six female members of Afghanistan’s lower house [of parliament]. The real objective behind the payments was mobilizing parliamentary opposition to the pact, the source said, adding that the cash recipients included Shah Gul Rezaee (Ghazni) and Farishta Amini (Nimroz)."

"Second Deputy Speaker Haji Abdul Zahir Qadir, Secretary Abdul Sattar Khawasi, MP From Kunar Maulvi Shahzad [Shahid], And Kabul Representative Syed Hussain Alami Balkhi Have Launched Efforts To Block The Approval Of The Pact"

"Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, a Wolesi Jirga member confirmed that Tehran had set aside $25 million for the rejection of the agreement. Second Deputy Speaker Haji Abdul Zahir Qadir, Secretary Abdul Sattar Khawasi, MP from Kunar Maulvi Shahzad [Shahid], and Kabul representative Syed Hussain Alami Balkhi have launched efforts to block the approval of the pact, he said.

"Qadir could not be reached for comment, but Khawasi said he was loyal to the country and Islam. Therefore, he added, he had some reservations about the agreement, which is against Afghanistan’s interest and religious values... He noted [that] there was no mention of respect for religious values in the accord with the U.S.

"When contacted, Maulvi Shahzad Shahid said: 'I wonder why such statements are made. Waging propaganda is an easy job for all in Afghanistan. This member must be a foreign agent....' Syed Hussain Almi Balkhi strongly denied he was making efforts to block the accord on the national assembly floor.

"A member of the Wolesi Jirga’s Foreign Affairs Commission, Syed Ali Kazmi, said:... 'I can confidently say that the strategic pact will be ratified by the house meeting with a majority vote.' He claimed that Muhammad Akbar Stanikzai, an MP from central Logar province, was urged by a group of religious scholars to cast his vote against the deal. But Stanikzai spurned the allegation and said: '"The national interest is more important to me than anything else. I am still reading the text. If it is in the interest of Afghanistan, I shall vote for it."'

"The Embassy of Iran was contacted several times, but no one was available for comment. After 4pm, when the embassy was contacted again, an official replied: 'We will get back to you later on.' After a while, an embassy spokesman, Mohammad Dehqani, said that Iran had always supported peace and stability in Afghanistan. He vehemently repudiated the claim that Iran was trying to bribe Afghan lawmakers to reject the pact." Endnotes:

[1] Pajhwok.com (Afghanistan), May 24, 2012. The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.

SOURCE: MEMRI

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