ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan would support Pakistan if a military conflict broke out between Pakistan and the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview to a Pakistani TV channel broadcast on Saturday.
The remarks were in sharp contrast to recent tension between the two neighbours, who have traded diplomatic jibes over cross-border raids and accusations that Pakistan was involved in the murder of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani on September 20.
“God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan,” Karzai said in an interview with Geo television. “If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.” The TV channel did not say when the interview was conducted.
Such a situation is extremely unlikely, however. Despite months of tough talk between Washington and Islamabad, the two allies appear to be working to ease tension. In a two-day visit to Islamabad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued stern warnings and asked for more cooperation in winding down the war in Afghanistan, but ruled out “boots on the ground” in North Waziristan, where Washington has been pushing Pakistan to tackle the Haqqani network.
Karzai said tensions between the United States and Pakistan did not have any impact in his country’s attitude towards Pakistan. However, he reiterated Afghan concerns over Pakistan’s intentions in their country and suspicions over its promise to help bring about peace.
Urging a more honest and far-sighted approach from Afghanistan’s neighbour, Karzai asked Pakistan to end underhand methods, such as indirect support for terrorist groups. “Please brother, stop using all methods that hurt us and that are now hurting you,” he said. “Let’s engage from a different platform, a platform in which the two brothers only progress towards a better future in peace and harmony.”
Following the death of Rabbani, Karzai said he would cease attempts to reach out to the Afghan Taliban and instead negotiate directly with Pakistan, saying its military and intelligence services could influence the militants to make peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2011.
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