Roughly ten years after a NATO coalition removed removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan– culminating in deaths of 88 French soldiers to date– France hoped to sign a 20-year “friendship and cooperation treaty” with the country it invested so much in.
The only problem? A number of lawmakers in Afghanistan’s senate refuse to consider non-Muslim France a “friend,” saying the best they can commit to is a “relationship” with the “infidels.”
Senator Zahra Sharifi explained for the Agence France-Presse: “Some senators said that based on Sharia rulings we cannot use the word friendship with infidels, so after voting the word friendship was replaced with relationship.”
But the vote is only a recommendation, according to reports, because Afghanistan’s senate can only approve or reject the bill, not modify it. And a number of senators were reportedly embarrassed about the whole fiasco.
The AFP continues:
“We argued, we said that France has been a close friend of Afghanistan for a very long time,” said Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who chaired the senate session.
“Some senators disagreed, but the important thing is that the pact was approved, and will be sent to the foreign ministry.”
A foreign ministry spokesman, Faramerz Tamana, said that after it received the document from the senate, “we will send the treaty to the government of France, and they will decide whether or not they accept any possible change in the document”.
The French are unlikely to approve the revision, but they will likely (and understandably) be pretty offended by the proposed changes.
So why single out France? Did Afghanistan agree to a “friendship” with the United States, and then change its mind for the French?
Not exactly. According to Senator Nesar Ahmad Haress, Afghanistan has already signed partnership agreements with several countries, including the United States, but none of the others actually included the word “friendship.”