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Kazakhstan’s parliament refuses to send troops to Afghanistan

Kazakhstan’s parliament refuses to send troops to Afghanistan
The Senate of Kazakhstan has voted against a bill that ratifies the agreement with NATO on Astana’s role in Afghanistan.

­The bill concerned Kazakhstan’s participation in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. But the upper house rejected the agreement at the initiative of the Senate’s International Affairs, Defense and Security Committee.

The lower house of parliament approved the ratification on May 8. Then, two weeks later some representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban reportedly warned that the agreement with NATO will entail grave consequences for Kazakhstan. The bill also got a mixed reaction in Kazakh society.

Astana should not get involved in the military activities in Afghanistan, said Svetlana Dzhalmagambetova, a deputy of the upper house. “The Senate has taken a right decision not to ratify the bill on sending troops,” Interfax quoted her as saying. Deputies had heated discussions in the parliament’s committees, the deputy said.

Now that the US is considering withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, it would be unacceptable for Astana to send servicemen after refraining for so long, Dzhalmagambetova noted. The move would tarnish the country’s reputation as a peaceful state, she believes.   

Another senator, Tasbay Simambaev, said during the meeting that Kazakhstan had all the grounds to reject the ratification. The country should maintain a balanced foreign policy and neutral position, he stressed. Public opinion was also against the agreement with NATO, he said.  

As Kazakhstan enjoys an internal stability, the country was shocked by two bombings in May. In the first case, a resident of Aktobe set off a bomb on his person in the building of the National Security Committee department, killing himself and injuring two people on May 17. A week later, a car was blown up, killing two people near the National Security Committee's detention center in Astana.

The authorities said the bombings were not interrelated and were not acts of terrorism. Analysts also believe the explosions were in no way linked to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.