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Karzai assures India about Pak role in Taliban talks

world Updated: Jan 11, 2011 00:51 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has assured New Delhi that it will play a key role in the reintegration of the Taliban, but explained that a doctrine of necessity means that he must strive to get Pakistan on board, though with reservations. While he assuaged Indian concerns about his overtures to the Taliban, Karzai was more critical of the US policy in his country. He did some blunt talking about the failure of US strategy to deal with the presence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.

Karzai said this during his meeting with external affairs minister SM Krishna on Sunday, highly placed sources said.

The Afghan leadership said while Americans know that the safe havens are in Pakistan, yet rather than attacking them Washington has kept on interdicting militants on Afghan soil. This has meant the deaths of many innocent Afghan civilians.

The US’ failure to address the issue of civilian casualties is undermining support for the Afghan government.

However, the Afghan government was not entirely dismissive of the American effort.

“They acknowledge the gains, and the importance of US money. But there are concerns there is a gap in their strategy when it comes to addressing the issue of terrorism and hunting down the extremists from where they hide...,” an official said about the Karzai-Krishna meeting.

Karzai’s attempt to bring the situation under control, it is a necessity for the Karzai government to reach out to Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference with his Afghan counterpart, Zalmay Rasool, Krishna said, “Any external interference in the reintegration process would be detrimental to its success and for the future of democratic, stable, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Regarding Pakistan’s reservations about the Indian presence in Afghanistan Krishna said, “India is not going to be cowed down by such threats. We will continue to remain in Afghanistan as long as the legitimately elected government of Afghanistan wants us to stay.”