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Pakistan, Afghanistan Cooperate on Security Problems, says Karzai - 2003-04-22


Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai says Pakistan is working closely with his government to address shared security problems. Mr. Karzai has begun a two-day visit to Islamabad.

The Afghan president said Pakistan has reassured him of its full support in the effort to eliminate terrorism in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai made the comment to reporters after meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarulla Jamali. "Pakistan is a brother of ours, and as a brother Pakistan will do all to help Afghanistan attain the best levels of safety and security," Mr. Karzai said. "That sort of assurance I have from the government of Pakistan. And I am sure I will go back home tomorrow, inshallah [God willing], with a much higher degree of relationship on my hand to the Afghan people."

Members of Mr. Karzai's administration have recently accused Pakistan of harboring remnants of the former Taleban regime who are trying to undermine the new Afghan government. But Mr. Karzai shied away from asking Pakistan to hunt them down.

"The common Taleban can live wherever they want. They can come to Pakistan and stay here, they can go to refugee camps, they can live a life the way all of us are living a life. The question is with regard to a few of them, those who are known for very clear and visible crimes against the Afghan people, against the mankind as a whole. And I am sure Pakistan will help Afghanistan in that regard," he said.

Mr. Karzai said the issue of hundreds of Pakistani prisoners in Afghan jails came up in his discussions with Prime Minister Jamali. The prisoners fought alongside the Taleban and have been jailed for more than a year. President Karzai said the process to free them is under way.

"The prisoners would have been released many, many, months ago, and I want to be very frank here, but for a problem that emerged when we were releasing about 135 from Kabul. When we questioned them for identification, of the 135, 15 said they would come back to fight. That alarmed us," he explained.

The Afghan president dismisses suggestions that anger against the U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan is increasing.

Afghanistan has the presence of those forces as an element of stability and the Afghan people support them as such. The attacks against them and the attacks against the Afghan people as well, we consider as acts of terrorism against peace in Afghanistan.

A series of attacks in recent weeks has threatened the fragile security in Afghanistan. Remnants of the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorist network are being blamed for the violence. Some observers say that anger against the international forces is increasing, leading to some of the attacks.

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