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Afghanistan suspends Pakistan talks

Afghanistan has suspended a series of meetings with Pakistan because of what it called the “violent policies” of the Pak army, ISI and their involvement in a string of attacks.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2008 23:25 IST

Afghanistan has suspended a series of meetings with Pakistan because of what it called the “violent policies” of the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies and their involvement in a string of attacks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday Pakistani agents were behind recent violence, including an attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last week, the first time he had directly accused Pakistan of involvement in the suicide car-bomb blast that killed 58 people. India’s national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, said last week he had no doubt Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was behind the attack.

Ties with Pakistan dominated a cabinet meeting Karzai held on Monday and the cabinet later said in a statement Afghanistan would maintain people-to-people contacts and support the newly elected Pakistani government.

“(But) it feels compelled in the face of the violent policies of Pakistani army and intelligence agencies, and for the sake of its national sovereignty, to suspend its bilateral and multilateral meetings,” the cabinet said.

The government said Pakistani agents were behind a string of other attacks, including a bid to kill Karzai in April and a June assault on a prison that freed about 400 Taliban. Afghanistan was pulling out of meetings on border cooperation meeting and bilateral and regional economic cooperation, all scheduled for coming weeks, it said, adding participation would be suspended “until a positive spirit of dialogue and understanding for mutual trust is restored”.

Karzai warned last month he might send troops into Pakistan to fight the Taliban if Pakistan failed to tackle them and he told reporters on Monday Afghanistan would soon take revenge for the death and destruction.

Afghanistan believes Pakistan helps the Taliban to counter growing Indian influence, keep the country weak and allow Pakistani forces to concentrate on defending the Indian border.

Pakistan again denied it had a hand in Afghan violence. “Pakistan was not involved in any such activity, as the government has repeatedly stated,” Pakistani information minister Sherry Rehman said. “Such allegations are unhelpful.... We’re in the business of confidence building, not conflict creation,” she said.