Karzai’s decision to ‘stand by Pak’ jolts West

Afghan President said his country would back Pakistan in a clash with the US.

Last Updated: Oct 24, 2011, 14:09 PM IST

Washington: America’s attempts to strengthen its ties with Afghan President Hamid Karzai received an unexpected hard blow, as the Afghan leader said his country would back Pakistan in a clash with the US.

“If Pakistan is attacked and the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, we will be there for Pakistan. We will never forget the hospitality of the Pakistani people,” Karzai told Geo News in an interview.

According to some Afghan and Western officials in Kabul, the prospects of a US war with Pakistan are remote, and Karzai’s comments are nothing but poorly executed effort to blunt his recent angry comments about Pakistan`s support for Afghan insurgent groups, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“This is not about war with each other. This is about a joint approach to a threat to all three of our countries,” the paper quoted Gavin Sundwall, spokesman for the US embassy in Kabul, as saying.

Karzai’s latest remarks struck a nerve with some Afghan and Western officials in Kabul who were reminded of the president’s penchant for criticising the US-led coalition that supports and funds his government.

“It was totally careless, unnecessary and, yes, irresponsible. He hasn`t pleased anyone except, maybe, a few Pakistani generals,” an Afghan official said.

Karzai`s comments came as a surprise to some Western officials in Kabul, who had been heartened by the success of last week`s visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the paper said.

The Afghan leader has repeated his characterisation of Pakistan as a “brother” and said Afghanistan wouldn`t let the US or any other country dictate its foreign policy.

Many US officials, however, believe that Karzai`s remarks would not overshadow Hillary’s visit, and that they both were united in demanding that Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban and other Afghan insurgent groups.

ANI