WASHINGTON - The United States should limit its military mission in Afghanistan to supporting local forces and should intensify pressure on Pakistan to jump-start peace talks with the Taliban, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Karzai, who came to the US to attend boxing legend Muhammad Ali's funeral, urged the Obama administration to coordinate a sustained policy of pressure on the Pakistani govt, together with China, Russia, India and Iran, to force Taliban leaders to join hoped-for peace talks .

“The United States must take a clear stand there … it has to be stronger and consistent,” he said.

At the same time, Karzai strongly criticised what he described as Pakistan's "pernicious role" in the Afghan conflict.

“The war on terror is not in Afghan villages; it is not in Afghan homes. You cannot defeat it … [by] launching military operations on Afghan homes,” Karzai said.

“Rather it should be found in the sanctuaries, in the training grounds, in the motivation factors, and in those powers or those institutions behind it, outside of Afghanistan.” His remarks brought an immediate response from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.

Nadeem Hotiana, an Embassy spokesman, said that the Pakistani govt believed that a negotiated peace deal was the only way to bring sustained peace in Afghanistan.

“Despite efforts by Pakistan, the peace process in Afghanistan has not moved forward due to the internal political dynamics, absence of a national consensus in support of the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and other internal problems,” Hotiana said in a statement.

“The situation was further complicated due to the mixed signals emanating from Afghanistan on the dialogue process, worsening security situation, corruption and other administrative problems.”

Hotiana said that close coordination between Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US was needed for the stalled talks to move forward.

“Pakistan would remain committed to any peace process that is inclusive and has the support of all Afghan factions,” he said.

On its part, the Post dispatch acknowledged that Pakistan’s govt has attempted to bring Taliban and Afghan govt leaders together for a series of meetings, but said that process has not taken off, adding, it was not yet clear how the U.S. drone strike that killed Taliban leader Akhtar Muhammad Mansour in Pakistan last month would affect the long-term prospects for peace.

The dispatch said Karzai sounded a note of skepticism about recent changes to the US military mission in Afghanistan, which reflect ongoing insecurity and the continued strength of the Taliban.

“I don’t think military means will bring us [peace],” Karzai said in the interview.

“We did it for the last 14 years and it didn’t bring us that, so how do we know…military action will bring us that now?”

Karzai was speaking days after US officials acknowledged that President Barack Obama has approved an expansion of the US military role in Afghanistan. The decision to authorise more aggressive air and ground action against the Taliban is the latest sign that the war which Obama came into office hoping to end has no clear conclusion in sight.

But Karzai, known for his criticism of aspects of the US and NATO presence in Afghanistan during the later years of his Presidency, warned that the US military effort may not yield the desired result.

While the United States is due to cut its force of 9,800 service members to 5,500 by early next year, senior officials have said they will consider additional delays to withdrawal plans in line with security conditions.

Karzai did not comment directly on the size of the US military presence, but did state that the remaining military mission should be limited to advising and support for local forces rather than combat.

While that is in line with Obama administration policy, US personnel have edged closer to the fight over the last year as they attempt to provide the Afghan forces the support required against the Taliban.

Now, Obama has authorised commanders to allow, under certain conditions, US troops to accompany conventional Afghan forces on the battlefield and to unleash US air power in support of offensive operations against the Taliban.

Karzai, who clashed repeatedly with US leaders over civilian casualties, urged caution.