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Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Saturday said the Afghan government would never recognised Durand Line as the international border between the two countries.
He said that the government of Pakistan was trying to force Afghanistan to accept Durand Line as the formal border by creating issues including the construction of border gates and other military installations.
Karzai called on the Taliban to fight Afghanistan’s enemies in what was widely seen as a swipe against Pakistan days after the neighbours’ security forces clashed on their border.
Karzai’s remarks are likely to unsettle already shaky ties with Pakistan and come as the United States wants Pakistan to help Afghanistan persuade the Taliban to engage in peace talks ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of next year.
“Instead of destroying their own country, they should turn their weapons against places where plots are made against Afghan prosperity,” Karzai told reporters in the capital, Kabul , saying this was “a reminder for the Taliban”.
“They should stand with this young man who was martyred and defend their soil,” he said, referring to a border policeman who was killed in the Wednesday night clash on eastern Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. Two Pakistani soldiers were wounded.
Hundreds of men took to the streets of the eastern Afghan town of Asadabad on Saturday, near where the clash took place, to protest against both Pakistan and the United States.
A day earlier, thousands of men in Kabul rallied in support of the Afghan security forces.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have had testy relations since Pakistan was formed in 1947, at the end of British colonial rule over India. Afghanistan has never officially accepted the border between them.
Pakistan helped the Taliban take power in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Many Afghan leaders say Pakistan is still helping the militants, seeing them as a tool to counter the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies helping the militants and says it wants peace and stability in its western neighbour.
Karzai also revealed that he had spoken earlier on Saturday to the CIA’s Kabul station chief, asking that the intelligence agency continue to provide payments to his country.
There was a report in the New York Times late last month that said his office has been receiving so-called ghost money from the CIA for more than a decade.
“Just this morning I met with the station chief of the CIA in Kabul and I thanked him for the support given to us in the past 10 years and I asked him to continue the support,” he said, adding that the money was “flowing to” Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security. “In the situation of Afghanistan where there is so much need ... it proves extremely helpful.”
The New York Times said the money was meant to buy influence for the CIA but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.
However, the Afghan president denied that CIA cash delivered each month to his office was used to buy the support of warlords who could tip the country back into civil war.
The New York Times report provoked anger in both Washington and Kabul .
But Karzai said the bundles of cash — allegedly packed in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags — were used for health care and scholarships, and that full receipts are issued to the Americans.
“This money was not given to warlords,” the president told a press conference in Kabul . “The major part of this money was spent on government employees such as our guards... it has been paid to individuals not movements.
“It is used for different issues such as treating patients, scholarships for youths... we give receipts for all these expenditures to the US government.”
The New York Times alleged that some of funds were used to bribe warlords into supporting Karzai’s US-backed government as the international coalition tries to stabilise the country before NATO troops withdraw next year.
Warlords who fought against both the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and Taliban regime retain huge influence, and many have close links to Karzai’s government that rose to power after the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
With the NATO-led mission winding down after more than 11 years of fighting, the warlords look set to renew their battle for power in Afghanistan and the weak central government faces a tough challenge to impose stability.
Karzai , who is due to step down next year, declined to confirm how much his office received each month from the CIA, and he repeated his gratitude to the US spy agency.
Much of the anger has focused on the cash fuelling endemic corruption that the US and other donor nations say is a prime threat to Afghanistan establishing a functioning state system.
When news of the CIA payments broke, Karzai immediately confirmed the reports and has tried to pass them off as a part of the international aid effort to help his country recover from decades of war.
“This is an official deal between two governments,” he said. “I say that we should take every drop of money that comes to us so that our budget can be saved.”