K J M Varma in Islamabad
Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday decided to bury the past, specially the phase of Islamabad's support to the Taliban, with President Pervez Musharraf pledging to fully support the interim administration of Hamid Karzai.
Karzai, who was on his first visit to Pakistan as Afghanistan's interim leader, and Musharraf told a joint press conference that the past must be forgotten and both countries should foster friendly ties and forge cooperation against terrorism.
Stating that the Afghan leaders remember Pakistan's help in fighting the Soviet Union, Karzai said: "We are talking of a past that is filled with tremendous help from Pakistan. We fought our jihad (against the Soviet Union) from this country. We have two million refugees here. My home is in Quetta."
Musharraf said both sides have agreed to have relations on the basis of non-interference and mutual interest.
Karzai, who held an hour-long talk with Musharraf earlier in the day, was accompanied by Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullal, who was one of the bitter critics of Pakistan's support to the Taliban.
Answering a question, Karzai ruled out the possibility of the American forces leaving Afghanistan without completely eliminating terrorism. "Without help from the US we found it very, very difficult to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan. We have been working against this evil for many years. It was only the strong stand of President Musharraf and the help that we received from the US and the international community that we defeated terrorism," he said.
"We need to look for their (militants') hideouts in the caves and wherever they are. They have done shocking things. We will use every force we have to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan and the rest of the world," he said.
Stating that the refugees would soon begin returning to Afghanistan after his administration stabilised the food and economic situation, Karzai said, "We Afghans have nothing but goodwill for Pakistan for its help to fight the Soviet Union as well as for hosting two million Afghan refugees."
Referring to the pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters of Pakistan, who were captured and held in Afghanistan, Karzai said his administration looked at the possibility of releasing all of them. However, Afghanistan and the coalition forces were examining the details of the prisoners and a decision on their fate would be taken soon, he added.
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