`Would stand by Pak if it is attacked by anyone`

Afghan President has said his country would stand by Islamabad in the event of hostilities with any nation, including the US or India.

Islamabad: After being critical of Pakistan
over its links with Taliban militants, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has now said his country would stand by Islamabad in
the event of hostilities with any nation, including the United
States or India.

"God forbid, if at any time there is a war between
Pakistan and America, then we will be with Pakistan," Karzai
said in an interview with Pakistan`s Geo News, excerpts of
which were aired by the channel this afternoon.

Asked specifically if Afghanistan would back Pakistan if
it was attacked by India, Karzai replied: "Anybody that
attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan.
Afghanistan will be a brother of Pakistan. Afghanistan will
never betray a brother".

Karzai`s comments came against the backdrop of increased
tensions between Pakistan and the US on the issue of tackling
terrorist groups like the Haqqani network, which use bases in
Pakistan`s tribal belt to carry out attacks on US and allied
forces in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday said the US
did not intend to act unilaterally against groups like the
Haqqani network but called on Pakistan to act within "days and
weeks" to "squeeze" the Taliban faction.

When Karzai was asked what he would do if there was a war
between Pakistan and India, he replied: "If Pakistan is
attacked by anyone, and if the people of Pakistan need
Afghanistan`s help, Afghanistan will be there with you".

Kazrai had been critical of Pakistan`s role after the
assassination of former president and peace envoy Burhanuddin
Rabbani. The Afghan President even said that the Taliban will
not be able to move a finger without Pakistani support.

However, Karzai turned soft on Pakistan during the
interview, calling it a "brother".

"Afghanistan is a brother. (Despite) all that the
Pakistani establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan
is still a brother," he added.

At the same time, Karzai sought to address Pakistan`s
concerns about the strategic partnership agreement signed
recently by Afghanistan and India, saying the two countries
had been working on the pact for years.

"Now, our relation with India, our signing of the
strategic partnership with India, it did not happen at the
spur of the moment. This is something that we have been
working on for years now," Karzai said.

"But the visit (to India) was not after these troubles
that took place. It was planned long, long before," he added.
Karzai`s recent visit to India during which New Delhi and
Kabul signed a strategic partnership agreement had come amid
tensions in Afghanistan`s ties with Pakistan.

Karzai also said the tensions between the US and Pakistan
had not had an impact on Kabul`s attitude towards Islamabad.

"You know that we have had this engagement with Pakistan
for a long time and if it comes to a brother-to-brother
relationship, you`ll find that Afghanistan will be there with
you in times of difficulty," he said.

However, Karzai said there was "pain" in Afghanistan over
Pakistan`s dealing with his country.

"Please, brother, stop using all methods that hurt us and
are now hurting you. Let`s engage from a different platform, a
platform in which the two brothers only progress towards a
better future in peace and harmony. And Afghanistan will be
with you," he said.

Karzai recalled the help provided by Pakistan to millions
of Afghans who fled their country when it was invaded by the
Soviets in the 1980s.

"We are your brother, the way Pakistan gave us a place,
the way it gave us a home while treating us as a brother, and
we lived there with dignity as mohajirs (refugees), in the
same way if someone (attacks) Pakistan, (we will stand with
you)," he said.

"Afghanistan will never forget the welcome, the
hospitality, the respect and the brotherhood shown by the
Pakistani people towards Afghan people. We are five million
refugees there. We will never forget that," he said.

Karzai said his country`s policies towards Pakistan would
not be dictated by any country, including the US and India.
"So, Afghanistan is not going to be dictated in any way by
any country, US or India or Russia or China or whoever.

Afghanistan has its own policy, its own stand, its own clear
view of things and from that point of view, it`s dealing with
our brothers in Pakistan," he said.