Taliban have Pakistani backup: Karzai

Updated on Jan 29, 2008 11:52 AM IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai finds the Pakistani leader "to be more cognizant of the problems of extremism and terrorism..."

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IANS | By, London

After evading a question from former UN official from India Shashi Tharoor at Davos, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told an American newsmagazine that there is Pakistani "complicity" with resurgent rebels in his embattled country.

Karzai, who was in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) along with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, told Newsweek magazine that Taliban Islamic hardliners in Afghanistan "would not be strong without support".

Asked if he meant Pakistani support, Karzai said: "I've just had a very good trip to Pakistan, so what I would say is that Pakistan and Afghanistan and the United States and the rest of the world must join hands in sincerity in order to end this problem. They have to take action."

Last week, Tharoor, former UN under-secretary general, asked Karzai a similar question at a session where the Afghan president was sharing the stage with Musharraf.

Karzai, who had referred minutes ago to terrorism being used as "a tool of policy" in his region, told Tharoor diplomatically that he had had a "very good trip with the president to Pakistan, so let's not go there".

Karzai, clearly unwilling to upset Musharraf, said in his interview that he found the Pakistani leader "to be more cognizant of the problems of extremism and terrorism. And that's a good sign, and I hope we will continue in that direction".

The interview is carried in the latest issue of Newsweek.

Karzai said the Taliban were affecting Afghanistan by trying to prevent progress and reconstruction and Afghan children from going to school, as well as killing community and religious leaders.

"We have to end extremism. We have to end support to extremism in the region. Unless we do that, the picture is one of doom and gloom - for Pakistan, and as a consequence for Afghanistan," he said in the interview conducted on the sidelines of the WEF.

"We cannot use extremism as a tool for any purpose. It will hurt us eventually, as it has begun to hurt Pakistan," he added.

Karzai welcomed the deployment of an additional 3,000 US troops to Afghanistan, saying US contribution to the war against terrorism was "fundamental and strong."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held individual meetings with Karzai and Musharraf in Davos last week, where she urged greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

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