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Terror from Pakistan must end: Karzai

Terror from Pakistan must end: Karzai

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 6, 2008
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Terror_from_Pakistan_must_end_Karzai/articleshow/3330617.cms

In the last few weeks, terrorism in Kabul has hit both Afghanistan and India, driving it to the top of the agenda in the talks between Hamid Karzai and Manmohan Singh here over the past few days. In an exclusive interview with The Times of India, Karzai tells Indrani Bagchi why its imperative for the world to weed out terrorists from Pakistan.

Q.: You have had a weekend of talks with South Asian leaders in Colombo and a day of discussions with the Indian leadership. What is the focus of your talks?
A: The focus of our talks was on the threats that we face together. On the challenges from terrorism and those who are up against us. This was the main focus of our talks. Then we talked about the development of Afghanistan and what we can do there.

Q.: Everybody is pretty clear that Pakistan was behind the attack on the Indian mission in Kabul. What, according to you, was the motive?
A.: I don't understand it. I don't understand why they did it. It didn't and it doesn't serve any purpose. So it amazes me, the very fact of so much violence against people amazes me. The bombs in Kabul, Ahmedabad, Bangalore the fact that one would go to place a bomb in a hospital to kill the wounded. Its mindless.

Q.: Were they were also behind the attack on you in April?
A.: Definitely, thats what our information shows.

Q.: How should the world deal with Pakistan and the problems of terrorism emanating from there?
A.: The world has no option but to deal with terrorism, in a very clear explicit manner. The war on terrorism is not a willy-nilly, wishy-washy affair. Its a clear struggle between those who are seeking peace and harmony within their own countries and beyond. Against those who are seeking destruction, violence and harm to our lives. So there is no grey area here. Its a clear vision for peace and we have to defeat those against peace.

Q.: Did you tell this to Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani?
A.: Yes, I did. PM Gilani is a good person. He has our vision. I wish him success.

Q.: Can he control the ISI?
A.: Well we have to try in all our countries, specially in Pakistan. Those who perpetrate such atrocities must be brought under control. There is no alternative. By whatever means. We have to stop them from killing us, destroying our lives, killing our children, depriving mothers of their babies and babies of their mothers.

Q.: Terrorism however is increasing, specially from Pakistan...
A.: Yes, it has unfortunately been allowed to grow.

Q.: Do you believe that anything has changed, recently?
A.: Certainly, in the recent past, its clear there is a much stronger recognition. Its a bit late in the day, no doubt. But still, better late than never.

Q.: How is it manifesting itself?
A.: The statements from the US, UK are stronger and sharper, and I hope from the rest of Europe. And with the clarity that now India approaches this question we expect more action. We don't care who the perpetrator is. In Afghanistan itself there is immense awareness and demand for clarity. If the war against terrorism is what we genuinely believe in and seek, - then we have to have the clarity of words and clarity of action. The clarity of words we're seeing only recently, only in the past few days.

Q.: Clarity of words may be there, but where is the clarity of action? Pakistan may be under verbal pressure, but it is also getting military aid. Is that fair, or a good thing?
A.: The rest of the world who have suffered with us before and after September 11 at the hands of terrorists need to have first of all a clarity of understanding of the issue. Who are the perpetrators and their backers. Afghanistan has been speaking for a long time, on removing the sanctuaries for terrorists, their training grounds. Because we knew and we wanted action both in words and deeds. It wasn't happening the way we wanted it. Either our allies did not know enough about it, and would not believe us, or something else. But now they know and talk about it. Now that they have recognized and admitted where the problem arises, its upon them and us together to seek the right action.

Q.: What is the right action?
A.: The action is to remove the sanctuaries. Remove the financial sources. Remove the training. Remove those who preach so much hatred against people. Pakistan itself is suffering massively. In Swat alone, there are 80,000 girls deprived from schools. And in the rest of Pakistan - look at what happened to Benazir Bhutto, look at the bombs in Islamabad. Pakistan is suffering itself. The question is, why should we be allowing anyone in Pakistan or in Afghanistan or India or anywhere in the world to kill us. That has to be stopped.

Q.: You have said you will pursue terrorists if Pakistan cant take care of them. Do you still intend to do that?
A.: If someone is coming from across the border into Afghanistan, destroying our roads, bridges, our lives, we have no option but to go and stop them. I am even more resolved today than I was before.

Q.: Times of India was the first to interview you after you became president in 2004. Now towards the end of your term, what have you achieved?
A.: We have achieved a lot with the help of the rest of the world and with the help of India. Our major achievements are sending 1000 students each year for the past three years for studies to India. Construction of roads, rebuilding destroyed ones. We are setting up children's schools. We have reduced infant and child mortality rates by 25 per cent. We have reached over half of Afghanistan's 38,000 villages with some form of rural development. Nearly 5 million Afghans have returned to their country in the past five years. Afghanistan is now a member of international groupings like SAARC.

Afghanistan still has serious problems - problems of human capacity. Still has the serious problem of not having an able administration to run the country. Provision of services not good. Production of opium is a long-standing issue. Its not just an economic problem. Its a problem that has affected Afghanistan because of the desperation of its past decades. Because it has tentacles beyond Afghanistan - broad and deep ones. And terrorism. We have achieved a lot and there are areas where we have failed.

Q.: Is there anything more you want India to do?
A.: India has done very well with Afghanistan. Afghanistan is on top of the list of countries that India is helping and its very good for us.

Q.: Is that the reason for Pakistan's anger?
A.: Pakistan must not be angry because India is helping us. Pakistan should be happy to have us peaceful and growing in economic terms as a neighbour that is prosperous and peaceful. Pakistan has benefited from that - Pakistani exports to Afghanistan are over a billion dollars annually now as compared to about $25 million during the Taliban days. Afghanistan's peace and prosperity is first and foremost in the interest of Pakistan and then in a much smaller way in the interests of India. So Pakistan should be happy.

If Pakistan wants to help that's welcome. We're grateful that Pakistan houses our refugees. We're grateful there helping us in other ways. But we're also concerned that elements in Pakistan are coming over to destroy our schools and clinics.

Q.: If India wants a greater military role in Afghanistan how would the US look at it?
A.: India and Afghanistan already have a defense relationship. India can offer a lot to Afghanistan in the training of our personnel in various fields at their security institutions. The US is not against such cooperation. US sees India as a great democracy, compatible with all our aspirations.

Q.: Are you up for re-election next year?
A.: Yes. I have a job to get done. I have to complete what I have started. I have to bring to the Afghan people what I have promised. Some of the promises have been fulfilled. Some not. The Presidential and provincial council elections would be in the end of summer of 2009. Parliament elections would be in 2010.

Q.: India has dithered over starting the construction of the Afghan parliament building. Have you complained to Indian leaders?
A.: It's going to begin now. There was a problem with the bureaucracy here, but we didn't complain. However, I wish it was done sooner. But future Afghan lawmakers will be able to take advantage of it.

Q.: In the past four years if there something you wish you had done differently?
A.: Yes. I wish we had focussed properly on removal of sanctuaries for terrorists many years ago. Which I highlighted. We should have worked on the training of the Afghan police much earlier. But it was because there was not recognition of the issue in time. Afghanistan understood the problem much earlier and we have engaged our allies on it.

Q.: What are your expectations of a new US president?
A.: Afghanistan enjoys a lot of bipartisan support in US. So whether its Mr McCain or Mr Obama, both will be for Afghanistan and will support the Afghan people. So on that front Afghanistan is safe. As it will be with any new government in India.

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