KABUL (Reuters/AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai, setting out his election manifesto, vowed on Friday to make foreign troops sign a framework governing how they operate in a bid to limit civilians casualties. Karzai held his first campaign event in Kabul on Friday, pledging to ensure that Western troops respect Afghan citizens a day after snubbing a TV debate with his rivals. The incumbent is favourite to win the August 20 elections, but has so far kept a low profile as his main challengers Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah pound the campaign trail, attending rallies at least once a week. Karzai, widely criticised for withdrawing from a televised debate with two of his main rivals the previous night, unveiled a manifesto covering foreign troops, talks with insurgents and reconstruction. The incumbent Afghan President urged Taliban and other insurgent groups to participate in the Afghan state and hold talks with the government rather than waging war - entreaties repeatedly rejected by the group. Civilian casualties caused by US and Nato operations, particularly airstrikes, became a source of increasing outrage among ordinary Afghans and their leaders this year, even as insurgent violence hit its worst levels in the eight-year-old war. We need to make a pact to put the movements of foreign troops into a legitimate Afghan framework, Karzai told a campaign gathering in Kabul. The crowd of mostly turbaned men and a handful of women cheered, chanting God is greater when Karzai arrived at the vast, air-conditioned tent plastered with pictures of the president. He later shook hands with supporters. Nato and America are our allies in the war against terrorism but we also want protection, honour, dignity and respect of our religion from our friends, he said. Karzai gave few details about his proposed framework, but the issue of limiting the operations of foreign troops was raised in Thursdays debate by rival Ashraf Ghani, an ex-finance minister and high-ranking World Bank official. Ghani said he would seek an agreement with US and Nato-led forces about how long they would remain and seek to close the main prison for detainees used by the US military at its sprawling airfield north of Kabul within three years if elected. Karzai is a clear front-runner ahead of 38 challengers. An opinion survey by a US-based group published in May showed 31 per cent support for Karzai, with Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah polling in single digits. Karzai also proposed calling a loya jirga, or national council of elders, with the Taliban and other groups such as Hezb-i-Islami if he is re-elected to discuss ways to improve national security and Afghanistans many problems. The Taliban have repeatedly rejected such suggestions. Another potential rival, National Islamic Revolution of Afghanistan leader Sayed Hashemi, withdrew his candidacy and said on Friday he would back Karzai for national unity. On Friday about 2,500 supporters gathered at a tent in the capital as Karzai vowed to bring peace and security to Afghanistan - promises his rivals say he has failed to keep during his nearly eight years in office. Karzai said Afghan forces were partners with US and Nato troops battling a worsening Taliban insurgency that has raised fears about securing the polls, but called for a new agreement to limit innocent deaths. We are partners in the fight against terror, violence and cruelty, but we say that this fight in Afghanistan is not in our houses, streets or villages - foreign forces should avoid these kind of actions, he told the crowd. These foreigners are our guests. We welcome them, but the house owner is the owner and the guest is the guest, he added.