President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has declared that he will not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) until after Afghanistan’s Presidential elections are held in April 2014.

The Obama Administration has urged Karzai to sign the agreement by the end of the year. The BSA providesthat the US will continue to offer assistance to strengthen the security in Afghanistan, provide humanitarian aid, and support economic and civic development. The agreement provides no combat role for US troops.

The Afghan Loya Jirga, or grand council, approved the BSA earlier this week and advised President Karzai to sign the agreement without delay. The Afghan Parliament is expected to consider the agreement soon and present it to President Karzai for finalization. Certain members of Parliament have already voiced strong support for the agreement.

If President Karzai does not sign the BSA before the end of the year, the relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan could potentially disrupt and Afghan women and girls could be placed at grave risk. The Obama Administration has indicated that failure to finalize the agreement could lead to a complete pullout of US forcesand the loss billions of dollar in international aid.

With the help and support of the U.S. and the international community, Afghan women and girls have made steady progress in every sector of society. Previously stripped of all human rights and forced into a state of virtual house arrest, women are now 27 percent of Afghan Parliament, over 10 percent of candidates for the upcoming provincial council elections, about 35 percent of all primary and secondary school students, and nearly 19 percent of students attending university.

TAKE ACTION: Ask President Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement and ensure that Afghan women’s rights do not move backwards.

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 11/22/13; TOLO News 11/27/13; Reuters 11/24/13; The Washington Post 11/25/13