Washington: With NATO nations firming up their exit path from Afghanistan, the President of the war-torn country, Hamid Karzai, sought "constructive cooperation" from Pakistan for holding talks with the Taliban and to deny safe havens to militants on the border.
Karzai disclosed that he has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to visit Kabul in about a week`s time for what he called a dialogue, in a more open and friendlier manner than ever before.
Standing firm on his charges that terrorist safe havens continue to exit across the border, Karzai said the whole range of issues could be discussed in his talks with Gilani.
"There is no doubt that Haqqani network is in Miramshah. The Pakistani government would not deny that there are other sanctuaries as well across the border. But the difference today is that we are talking about these issues more openly and in a friendlier environment than ever before," Karzai told CNN in an interview.
He said in keeping with this new environment he hoped to find solutions.
"Pakistan is a neighbour of ours and we have begun a dialogue with them. And the dialogue is quite ahead now in seeking solutions to the problems that we have.
"It is keeping with this dialogue that we are moving forward, and we hope that the end result of all this activity, of all this effort, the endeavour on the part of both of us, and the US, will be the removal of the terrorists from the region," Karzai said.
The comments from the Afghan President came as a crucial NATO Summit closed in Chicago where world leaders firmed up an exit path from the war in Afghanistan.
US President Barack Obama summed up the mood of the NATO nations by saying that foreign forces would leave Afghanistan by 2014 but hope to leave behind a stable nation.
Karzai said in his address to the gathering of NATO and international partners, including his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, that he was hopeful or "more tangible" assistance from Islamabad in the direction of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
He also expressed concern over the rise of radicalism, and cautioned that it could have "dire consequences" for the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Pakistan`s constructive engagement and cooperation will be instrumental for bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table," Karzai told leaders of more than 60 countries.
"We believe that Afghanistan and Pakistan have strong mutual security interests to work together in order to defeat the terrorists intent on killing our people, undermining the sovereignty of our countries, and destabilising our region," he said.
"Over the past few years, we have closely engaged Pakistan to assist us with the peace process, and I am hopeful that the weeks and months ahead will witness more tangible measures in this regard," Karzai said.
He said while Pakistan and other countries from the region have a role in supporting the peace process and ensuring its success, it is ultimately for the Afghans to fully own and lead the process.
In his remarks, the Afghan President said a vital element of achieving lasting stability in Afghanistan is the success of the peace and reconciliation process and his government has extended a hand of reconciliation to the Taliban and other militant groups.
"Subject to the principles we have laid out for a peaceful outcome, including renunciation of violence, cutting ties with terrorism, safeguarding the achievements of the past ten years and upholding the constitution, we will work to make the peace process inclusive and a genuine alternative for all those who wish to return to dignified lives in our society," he said.
Karzai also assured the international community that Afghanistan move further on reform and improving governance and institutions of state.
"We will phase out all parallel structures, improve public service delivery and fight the menace of corruption, whether it is within the Afghan Government or outside," he said.
He said in more than a decade, terrorism remains a serious threat, and extremism and radicalism were on the rise.
"Spreading across societies in the region, these menaces, as we all know, have dire consequences not just for the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan but also for the security of the region and the world as a whole," Karzai said.
He said less than a year since the process of transition was launched last July, the Afghan National Security Forces have assumed lead security and protection responsibility for half the Afghan population.
"Over the next six months, the ANSF area of responsibility will reach 75 per cent of population across all of Afghanistan`s 34 provinces," he said.
He said the recently signed MoU between Afghanistan and the US, bringing night raids and detention centres under Afghan authority, was a significant development in the transition process, as well as a sign of respect for Afghan sovereignty.
"We see an irreversible Transition as a duty we owe to the men and women in uniform from your countries, to whom we are grateful, who need to be relieved of a responsibility that we Afghans ought to shoulder ourselves," he said.
He also welcomed the shift in NATO`s role from combat to a new training, advising and assistance mission.