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Pakistan, Afghanistan Governments Pledge Enhanced Cooperation


Pakistan and Afghanistan have pledged to enhance cooperation between their spy agencies and tighten border controls in an effort to curb militant activities on both sides of the border. From the Pakistani capital, Ayaz Gul reports President Pervez Musharraf and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai made the pledge at a meeting in Islamabad.

President Karzai arrived in Islamabad on a two-day official visit and held wide-ranging talks with his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musaharraf. Speaking at a joint news conference after the meeting, both leaders described their talks "excellent" and "productive".

President Musharraf says that the discussions mainly focused on how to increase anti-terror cooperation because terrorism, as he put it, is destroying both the countries. He says that in order to meet the menace of terrorism both Pakistan and Afghanistan need to boost intelligence sharing.

"People of both the countries are suffering at the hands of these extremists terrorists," he said. "To meet this challenge and threat we discussed how we could cooperate on the intelligence side. The two intelligence agencies on both sides must cooperate more strongly if we are to deal with terrorists and extremists more effectively. That is the key."

The Pakistani leader says that in his talks with the Afghan president he also underlined the importance of tightening border controls to discourage militant activity on both sides of their common border.

Both leaders are considered vital U.S allies in the war against terrorism and have met at a time when pro-Taliban and al-Qaida militants have increased attacks especially in Pakistan, a fact President Karzai acknowledged at the Wednesday's news conference.

"There is reduced [militant] activity on the Afghan side as unfortunately there is an increased [militant] activity on the Pakistani side," he said. "We have recognized that there is a problem that we are both facing, what are the roots of these problems what are the sources and backups of these militant groups in both the countries. That is something we have discussed."

Suicide bombers have frequently struck in both the countries. But officials say that in the past year alone more than 50 suicide bomb attacks killed more than 600 people in Pakistan.

Afghan leaders in the past repeatedly alleged that Taliban militants are using bases inside Pakistani border regions for attacks in Afghanistan.

But observers say that at an August meeting in Kabul, officials, politicians, scholars, intellectuals and civil society representatives from both countries toned down the rhetoric.

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