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Pakistan President Makes First Visit to Afghanistan - 2002-04-02

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has visited Afghanistan for the first time. Mr. Musharraf pledged full support for interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai's administration.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Kabul, the Pakistani and Afghan leaders promised to bury any lingering differences between their countries over Pakistan's past support for the ousted Taleban regime.

Repeatedly calling Mr. Karzai his brother, President Musharraf said his government's aim is to help the new Afghan administration with whatever assistance it needs.

"I have made it absolutely clear to my brother, Hamid Karzai, here that Pakistan has only one aim: to assist Afghanistan and to assist my brother sitting here and his government. Our plan is his plan," the Pakistani president said.

President Musharraf said his discussions with Mr. Karzai also focused on fight against drugs and terrorism.

"We have also mutually decided to coordinate efforts against drugs. We have also decided to coordinate closely our efforts to fight terrorism. We have vowed to prevent use of each other's countries as sanctuaries by terrorists. I am very positive that the future of relations between the two countries is extremely bright," Mr. Musharraf said.

Afghan-leader Karzai described Pakistan as a good neighbor and said that President Musharrf's visit will help improve "the brotherly links" between their countries. The Afghan leader promised to look into the possible release of Pakistani nationals, who have been taken prisoner in Afghanistan.

"There are certain Pakistani brothers here in Afghanistan, who were sent here by those who did not know the circumstances in Afghanistan. We will look into the release of those young men who have not relations to Al-Qaida or terrorism and let them go back to their homes," Mr. Karzai said.

Thousands of Pakistanis crossed into Afghanistan to fight for the Taleban after the United States launched military strikes in October to punish the Taleban for harboring Osama bin Laden.

Both Mr. Karzai and President Musharraf say they do not know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and can only guess if he is alive or dead.

At the end of the news conference, the Pakistani leader presented Mr. Karzai with an aid check for $10 million.