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Pakistan,  Afghanistan Pledge to Fight Common Enemies


Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf met with his counterpart Hamid Karzai in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, to discuss ways to curb the sharp rise in attacks by the Taleban. Pakistan's leader vowed to join forces with Afghanistan to help defeat the insurgents.

It is President Pervez Musharraf's first visit to Kabul in nearly two years and comes as Afghanistan faces its bloodiest year since 2001, when the U.S. forces ousted the hard-line Taleban regime.

Taleban insurgents have mounted a series of powerful offensives and deadly ambushes throughout the country. More than 2,000 people, mostly militants, have been killed since January.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have also sharply deteriorated amid Afghan charges that insurgents have been able to establish a number of bases inside Pakistan's tribal region.

During a joint news conference following their meeting Wednesday, President Musharraf said the two countries share a mutual enemy and should present a united front in the war against extremism.

"We have to fight the Taleban who are fighting us militarily, and we have to fight Talebanization, which is more a state of mind," he said. "Talebanization is a culture that does not suit any progressive country that wants to move forward. So we have a common enemy. The best way to fight this common enemy is to join hands, trust each other and form a common strategy."

Pakistan faces its own problems in the country's semi-autonomous tribal areas. Some reports say pro-Taleban militants have essentially taken over several districts near the Afghan border, where they enforce strict Islamic social codes.

Tuesday, Pakistan signed a new peace accord with pro-Taleban militants in the country's North Waziristan tribal area.

The government has promised to withdraw most of its troops from the region and, in exchange, tribal leaders are vowing to expel foreign extremists and stop cross border attacks on Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials hailed the agreement as a significant step toward securing a lasting peace in the volatile region.

However, security experts warn the deal could sharply limit the government's ability to secure the border and could create a sanctuary for the extremist groups operating in the area.

Earlier Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai held separate talks with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who vowed the alliance will prevail in Afghanistan despite the recent surge in violence and concerns over border security.

He says any failure in Afghanistan would be felt around the world.

"As we speak, NATO forces in southern Afghanistan are fighting side by side with the Afghan National Army. Why are they fighting? Because they and we and you do not want the terrorists to win," said de Hoop Scheffer.

NATO took command of security operations in southern Afghanistan July 31. A second, major expansion in the East, up and along the border with Pakistan, is expected later this year.

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