CLOCK’S TICKING

Karzai Wants More Time

Hamid Karzai is not going to let anything like international pressure or even pressure by elders in his own country rush him. The Afghan president on Sunday refused to commit to the U.S. withdrawal plan until after the 2014 election. Karzai’s noncommittal came as a letdown after a group of influential Afghan elders agreed to back it and advised Karzai to sign it into law promptly. As the four-day meeting drew to a close, assembly chairman Sibghatullah Mojeddedi told Karzai “if you don’t sign it, we will be disappointed,” to which Karzai replied “Fine!” Wonderful. U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have insisted a deal must be signed by the end of 2013 to begin the final phase of troop withdrawal by the end of 2014.