WASHINGTON - With Nato nations firming up their exit path from Afghanistan, the President of the war-torn country, Hamid Karzai, sought ‘constructive cooperation’ from Pakistan for holding talks with the Taliban and to deny safe havens to militants on the border.
Karzai disclosed that he had invited Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to visit Kabul in about a week's time for what he called a dialogue, in a more open and friendlier manner than ever before.
Standing firm on his charges that terrorist safe havens continue to exit across the border, Karzai said the whole range of issues could be discussed in his talks with Gilani.
“There is no doubt that Haqqani network is in Miramshah. The Pakistani government would not deny that there are other sanctuaries as well across the border. But the difference today is that we are talking about these issues more openly and in a friendlier environment than ever before,” Karzai told CNN in an interview.
He said in keeping with this new environment he hoped to find solutions. “Pakistan is a neighbour of ours and we have begun a dialogue with them. And the dialogue is quite ahead now in seeking solutions to the problems that we have. It is keeping with this dialogue that we are moving forward, and we hope that the end result of all this activity, of all this effort, the endeavour on the part of both of us, and the USA, will be the removal of the terrorists from the region,” Karzai said.
Karzai said in his address to the gathering of Nato and international partners, including his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, that he was hopeful or “more tangible” assistance from Islamabad in the direction of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. He also expressed concern over the rise of radicalism, and cautioned that it could have “dire consequences” for the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Pakistan's constructive engagement and cooperation will be instrumental for bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table,” Mr Karzai told leaders of more than 60 countries.
He said while Pakistan and other countries from the region have a role in supporting the peace process and ensuring its success, it is ultimately for the Afghans to fully own and lead the process.
The Taliban are not capable of taking back Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday as he sought to reassure his war-torn country's Western backers over their pullout plans. "The Taliban may have the ability to launch attacks, to explode IEDs (improvised explosive devices), to send suicide bombers. But for them to come and take over the country and take it backwards, no," Karzai told CNN. "Afghanistan has moved forward, and Afghanistan will defend itself. And the progress that we have achieved, the Afghan people will not allow it to be put back or reversed," Karzai said.
Asked by CNN if his government was still prepared to negotiate with the Taliban as behind-the-scenes efforts continue to find some sort of accommodation with the country's former rulers, Karzai replied: "Absolutely.
Karzai would not pass judgment on Islamabad's demand to charge steep fees for trucks crossing the border but intimated the issue would be discussed during his upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"The prime minister will be visiting in about a week's time in Kabul. And we're supposed to be discussing all the issues that are -- among both countries," he said.