Karzai Presses Musharraf On Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai pressed his Pakistani counterpart on Wednesday to root out militants Afghanistan claims have launched a spate of recent cross-border suicide bombings.

Karzai asked for a "more intensive pursuit of terrorists wherever they may be, in Afghanistan or Pakistan."

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, after meeting with Karzai in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, called on "all the progressive political elements" in Pakistan to cooperate to suppress elements who may be abetting the Taliban.

Both leaders agreed more cooperation was needed between the military and intelligence agencies to stop terrorism along their shared border.

"The question of terrorism, the question of the Taliban, the question of the bomb blasts in Afghanistan — we are in this fight together against terrorism," Karzai told reporters after what he described as a "brotherly" two-hour meeting with Musharraf.

Before arriving, Karzai's spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed said the president would urge Pakistan to show the same commitment to defeating Taliban rebels based on its side of the rugged frontier as it does in fighting al-Qaida.

Bilateral relations have long been touchy because of Afghan assertions that Taliban rebels find sanctuary in Pakistan, but they've soured in recent months, with Afghan officials becoming increasingly outspoken in blaming Islamabad for an upsurge in violence.

In Kabul, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanezai said Wednesday that security forces have arrested "a large number" of Pakistanis and others linked to the spate of over 20 suicide attacks in the last four months.

Many of the detainees have admitted during questioning that they received training at militant bases in Pakistan and were given money, explosives and other equipment there to launch attacks in Afghanistan, he said.

"The terrorists who come here for suicide attacks are attending training bases in Pakistan and are getting all their equipment there," Stanezai said. "We've arrested a large number who are either Pakistani or came from Pakistan."

He said some of the leaders of the Taliban regime before it was ousted in 2001 are now living in Pakistan and are orchestrating the attacks. He declined to name them.

Pakistan, a former supporter of the Taliban but now a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, has deployed 70,000 troops along the Afghan border, and says it does its best to stop cross-border attacks.

Pakistan has complaints of its own about the situation along the frontier. The issue of Pakistani civilian casualties from rockets and artillery fire originating from Afghanistan would be raised with Karzai, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Monday.