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Karzai demands end to US air strikes in Afghanistan

world Updated: May 09, 2009 09:56 IST
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday demanded an end to air strikes by US and allied forces in his country, which he said has resulted in heavy civilian casualties.

Early this week, some 100 civilians were killed in US air strikes, which were later regretted by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US has ordered a joint investigation into the incident with the government of Afghanistan.

"We believe strongly that air strikes are not an effective way in fighting terrorism. That's not good for the US, that's not good for Afghanistan, that's not good for the conducting of the war," Karzai told CNN in an interview.

"We demand the proper conduction of operations. We demand an end to these operations," he said.

Observing that the war on terror is not fought and should not be in the Afghan villages and homes, Karzai said: "that the air strikes, especially, and sudden bursts into homes at night are not in any way good for this war."

On another television show - the popular Charlie Rose show on PBS - Karzai appeared along with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, who also conceded that civilian casualties is a major issue for both the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"We need to find a way to end the loss of civilian life, especially where and when it occurs as a consequence of aerial bombardment or the use of airplanes in villages," Zardari said.

"In Afghanistan we've been saying for a long time now that the use of air power is no solution to fighting terrorism, whether there are one or two or many, that we have other ways of doing that," he argued.

At the tri-lateral meeting, which concluded Thursday, they agreed on a mechanism of joint operations through a joint center of a coordination operation between Afghanistan forces and American and international forces. "That should be implemented," Zardari said.

"Through the implementation of that, the need to use air power will go away, and that need will not arise anymore. That will mean lesser casualties for Afghanistan civilians," he said.