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Karzai launches scathing attack on Pak

President Karzai said Pak had destroyed Afghanistan's national institutions in the period following the Soviet withdrawal.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 13:10 IST

Using sharp language against Pakistan for fomenting terrorism in his country, President Hamid Karzai has made a no-holds barred attack on Islamabad from blood-soaked Kandahar, charging the southern neighbour with seeking to "enslave" Afghanistan.

He also said Pakistan had destroyed Afghanistan's "national institutions" in the period following the Soviet withdrawal when those who had cooperated in the fight against the former USSR had turned away.

In a 90-minute speech at Kandahar's Ahmad Shah Baba high school on Wednesday, punctuated by frequent applause from hundreds of listeners including a large student body, the President warned Pakistan that Afghanistan was no longer weak.

It had an elected government, he said and also noted that Afghanistan now enjoyed firm international support.

Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan, is the President's hometown which he had not visited for more than a year, setting tongues wagging as it and neighbouring province of Helmand are also the epicentres of Taliban extremist violence rocking the country.

In his speech, Karzai recalled that a series of suicide attacks had rocked the country just before Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri visited Kabul last Thursday.

This, he said, was a coded message that Afghans should "surrender" to Pakistan, else they will be killed and defeated.

Resorting to nationalist rhetoric, he called on the students to turn the pages of Afghan history.

He said Genghis Khan, Alexander, British colonialists and former Soviet Union had not succeeded in gaining control of Afghan soil. "Who do the Pakistanis fancy they are?" he said.

Karzai said that it is for the sake of peace that he had given a call for a "peace jirga" with Pakistan's participation and hoped that the government there would take positive steps to make the proposed convention a success.

Analysts here see the Karzai speech as a national mobilisation effort.

As an 'Afghanistan Times' editorial said, "Clearly, the president no longer hides his anger behind friendly words about Pakistan and calls upon it to stop interfering in Afghanistan's affairs."

Significantly, the (tribal or community) "elders", who are deemed important in social life here, of the battle-torn provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul, called on Karzai in Kandhar and lent him their support for the "peace jirga" plan.

Also in Kandahar, a day before his angry anti-Pakistan barrage at the school grounds, the President met with NATO commanders and asked them to devise ways in coordination with the government to eliminate civilian casualties.

At a press conference later, he took potshots at Pakistan for fanning terrorism in Afghanistan.

Two days before that, in Kabul, Karzai made references to the lives of children being cut short by terrorist violence launched by the "country's enemies".