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Karzai questions Pak's opposition to Indian consulates
Anand K Sahay in Kabul | February 23, 2007 15:46 IST
Questioning Pakistan's objections to India having consulates in Afghanistan's Jalalabad and Kandahar, President Hamid Karzai has wondered why Islamabad allowed Indian diplomatic mission on its soil if it was a security threat for them.
"Isn't there an Indian embassy in Islamabad?" he asked during an interview with an Afghan news agency. "Why has Pakistan allowed that on its soil if the Indian diplomatic missions are such a threat?" he asked.
Pakistan has objected to India having consulates in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and Kandahar in the south, alleging that they were a security threat to it. Informed sources in Kabul say that the Pakistani leadership takes up the issue in nearly every meeting with the Afghan leader.
India has traditionally maintained diplomatic sub-offices in both the cities which lie near the Afghan-Pak frontier. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan (1996-2001), New Delhi was forced to close even its embassy in Kabul.
Speaking of the widely speculated "spring offensive" of the Taliban, which has been a subject of discussion and disquiet in NATO circles, Karzai said that the extremists "cannot launch an offensive, whether in spring or any other season, without assistance from outside".
He said almost all attacks launched by the Taliban were taking place in provinces that border Pakistan. "When I visited Faryab province in northern Afghanistan some time back, my security guards left me unguarded, and their stance was that the province was not near the Pakistan border," Karzai said.
Karzai noted that nearly all suicide bombers in Afghanistan have been found to be non-Afghans. "We have captured some would-be suicide bombers and they have revealed that those being sent on suicide missions to our country are non-Afghans," he said.
NATO estimates suggest that 130 people have been killed in Iraq-style suicide attacks in 2006.
On questions being raised about his government's writ in certain parts of the insurgency-wracked country, Karzai said his regime was stronger than the Pakistani government. "I can go anywhere in Afghanistan. I appoint and remove top government functionaries. All departments, including the intelligence agency, are fully under my control. I have been dispatching troops to different parts of the country," he said.
But he did concede weaknesses in the civil services and administrative departments. The Afghan leader accused the Taliban of attacking and destroying schools, hospitals and other symbols of development. "Is it not strange that most attacks, including those by suicide bombers, take place near newly-constructed buildings?" Karzai asked.