Afghan President Confronts Pakistani Counterpart over Suicide Bombers
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, backed by the United States and Britain, is pressuring Pakistan to take action to stop suicide bombings in Afghanistan. During his recent visit to Islamabad, Karzai presented evidence to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf implicating Pakistan in the recruitment, training and equipping of Islamic radical suicide bombers.
Karzai's three-day visit Pakistan ended February 17. On the visit's first day, the Afghan and Pakistani leaders jointly pledged to intensify counter-terrorism activities. At least 30 suicide bombing attacks, carried out by the Taliban and al Qaeda, have killed nearly 100 people in Afghanistan over the past three months. Most of the victims have been Afghan civilians. Anti-Pakistan sentiment has been rising in Afghanistan. There have been dozens of demonstrations in towns across the country, against the alleged support that Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) is giving to the Taliban.
"We have provided President Musharraf with a lot of very detailed information on acts of terrorism being carried out in Afghanistan, and we discussed in great detail what actions Pakistan could now take," Karzai said. "We expect results; we expect that terrorist attacks will decrease."
Karzai made it clear that the United States and Britain had increased diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to sever ties with the Taliban. "There will be thousands of British troops deployed in the south against the Taliban and neither Britain nor Afghanistan is in any mood to tolerate any more casualties," said Karzai. "Britain will be piling on the pressure from now on." About 4,000 British troops began deploying in southern Afghanistan in mid-February. Most of the British soldiers will be stationed in Helmand Province, where the Taliban have conducted increasingly aggressive operations in recent months.
The dossiers given by Karzai to Musharraf included the names and addresses of Pakistani recruiters, trainers and those who equip them with suicide vests and explosives before they are sent into Afghanistan. Much of the recruitment takes place at a radical Islamic bookshop, several mosques and madrassas in the port city of Karachi, while the training is done at safe houses in Quetta and Chaman, in Balochistan province.
Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistan-based journalist and author of the book "Taliban: Militant Islam and Fundamentalism in Central Asia."