NEW YORK: Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that the new government of Pakistan is on his side in fighting terrorism and it deserves the support of the international community in that struggle. We should all help President Zardari because he has the right intentions and the right policy for Pakistan and for the region, and I think he deserves our assistance, Karzai, who had a meeting with the Pakistani leader earlier this week, said in an interview with NEWSWEEK.
Karzai, who is gradually softening his stand against Pakistan, said, “I think he (Zardari) deserves our assistance. I have full faith on him. Asked whether Zardari could control the country’s intelligence agencies, he said the international community should enable the current Pakistan government to do that. “They have the right attitude. They are on our side. They are on the side of the international community in fighting terrorism. That is good for Pakistan as well. We have to give them the support and the means to deliver that”, Karzai said.
Asked whether former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did not try quite a few options, Karzai said, “May be he did, may be the west did try it with him but we did not see results. About his view of the Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani, Karzai said he had heard good things about him as well. “Afghanistan will do everything to give them a sense of confidence.”
Karzai did not agree with comments that Taliban had been strengthened recently, but, said “we are not doing things that we should be doing” such as eliminating their sanctuaries. Asked he was referring to Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, the Afghan President deflected the question, saying, “I was talking about sanctuaries. But, I am now trying to be careful.”
International community, he said, should have paid more attention to the tribal areas, including applying right mix of political and diplomatic efforts. But, Karzai replied in negative when asked whether the international troops, now operating in Afghanistan, should have gone into tribal areas, not militarily. They should have used and kept open all options in order to bring security to Afghanistan.
In the interview, Karzai touched on wide range of issues affecting his country and stressed the need for training Afghan forces so that they could have ultimate control of the fight inside Afghanistan. He also made his intentions clear to run for another term and advocated political and diplomatic efforts in clearing tribal areas in Pakistan of al-Qaeda and Taliban and warned that spraying to kill poppy crops would alienate the population.
While reflecting on happenings in the tribal areas, Karzai lamented that the problems were getting more deep-rooted. “As we see now, unfortunately, the problem has gone deeper into Pakistan. The bombing recently in Islamabad [of the Marriott hotel] is unbelievable, shocking. Iâ€™ve had so many lunches and dinners in that hotel,” he added.
Input from Agencies