Pak, Afghan need to act to check terror: Karzai

Afghanistan and the US had exchanged some proposals and will hold further discussions.

Islamabad: Afghan President Hamid Karzai
today said Pakistan and Afghanistan need to act "aggressively
and effectively" to root out terrorists and their sanctuaries
in both countries to ensure peace in the region.

"The facts are so bare, the wound is so clear and
hurting that it now requires both of us to work diligently and
extremely aggressively and effectively to curb terrorism and
radicalism in this region," Karzai told a news conference he
addressed jointly with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Karzai was responding to a question on reports that
Afghan Taliban militants had recently sneaked into Pakistan to
carry out two attacks on security forces.

If any evidence is found that the militants had come
from Afghanistan, "it is the responsibility of the Afghan
government to take action to stop them", he said.

At the same time, it is the "responsibility of
Pakistan to do the same with regard to militants crossing into
Afghanistan", he said.

The reported attacks on Pakistani security forces by
hundreds of Afghan militants are a "worrying sign" and a
reason for both sides "to work harder to remove radicals from
both countries and remove sanctuaries wherever they may
occur", Karzai said.

"This is a reminder to us that things have gone beyond
tolerance and are really deeply hurting both nations` security
and well-being," he added.

The two leaders addressed the media after the
inaugural meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission
for Reconciliation and Peace that was formed to boost efforts
to rope in the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups in the
peace process in the war-torn country.

However, both Karzai and Gilani evaded questions on
whether they had discussed involving the powerful Haqqani
network, a militant faction based in Pakistan`s North
Waziristan tribal region and is seen by the US as being
opposed to the peace process in Afghanistan.

Gilani merely said in response to a query on the
Haqqani network that Pakistan was ready to do "whatever is in
our capacity" to assist an Afghan-led reconciliation process.

Referring to US plans to begin withdrawing its troops
from Afghanistan from next month, Karzai said his country had
a transition plan whereby the drawdown of American forces is
completed by 2014 and Afghan forces take "full responsibility
for the protection of the people and territory".

The issue of whether some US troops would remain in
Afghanistan after 2014 would depend on a "strategic
declaration" between the two countries, he said.

Afghanistan and the US had exchanged some proposals
and will hold further discussions, he added.

During the meeting of the Joint Commission for
Reconciliation and Peace, both sides agreed to intensify
cooperation between their intelligence agencies and militaries
and to hold separate military and intelligence meetings
whenever required.

"The two sides affirmed their resolve to work closely
together for reconciliation and peace, in holistic and
comprehensive manner," an official statement said.

They emphasized the importance of "continued close
cooperation, consultation and coordination on peace in

Besides Karzai and Gilani, the meeting was attended by
Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani,
Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul, Afghan Army chief Gen Karimi,
National Directorate of Security chief Rehmatullah Nabeel,
Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI chief Lt Gen
Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

The two sides also issued the Islamabad Declaration,
which expressed their satisfaction on the signing and
ratification of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade
Agreement and the successful finalization of modalities and
the mechanism for its implementation.

The pact will be made operation from June 12 and the
two sides said they would take all necessary steps to ensure
that the agreement contributes to the growth of trade.

Both sides further agreed to begin consultations with
other states to establish trade, transit and facilitation
mechanisms which would enable Central Asian countries to use
overland routes through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They also agreed to work towards developing a
framework of cooperation on infrastructure development.

In this context, both sides emphasised the importance
of enhancing connectivity and upgrading rail and road

The Torkham-Jalalabad Expressway is nearing completion
and necessary steps will be taken to expand this road link to

Steps will also be initiated to establish a rail link
between Peshawar and Jalalabad, the declaration said.

The two sides also attached importance to the early
finalisation of the process for establishing the
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.


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