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Afghanistan ready to take out Taliban on Pak soil

Last updated on: June 15, 2008 22:43 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday threatened to send his troops into Pakistan to target Taliban leaders, prompting Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to assert that Islamabad will not let anyone interfere in its internal affairs.

"Afghanistan has the right of self-defence. When they (militants) cross the territory from Pakistan to come and kill Afghans and to kill coalition troops, it exactly gives us the right to go back and do the same," Karzai told a media persons in Kabul.

In his toughest warning yet to Taliban fighters operating from Pakistan's tribal areas, Karzai warned that Afghan troops would target militant leaders in their homes and bases.

"(Pakistani Taliban supreme commander) Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house. (Pakistani Taliban leader Maulana) Fazlullah should know the same, that we will go after him and hit him in his house and in his bases," Karzai said.

"And the other fellow, Mullah Omar of Pakistan, should know the same," he said. Afghans will 'defeat (the Taliban leaders) and we will avenge all that they have done in Afghanistan in the past so many years,' Karzai said.

Reacting to Karzai's warning, Gilani said Pakistan is a sovereign country that will not let anyone interfere within its territorial limits.

'We will neither interfere in the internal affairs of any country, nor will we allow anyone to interfere in our affairs,' Gilani told ARY Oneworld news channel.

'Such statements will not help in the normalisation of friendly ties between the two countries and will hurt the sentiments of people on both sides of the border,' he said, adding that Pakistan wants good relations with all its neighbours, including Afghanistan.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said Pakistani troops alone have the responsibility to act against terrorists on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.

Reacting to Karzai's statement, Sadiq said Pakistan has a 'clear position' on the issue of military action against terrorists.

'On the Afghan side of the border, the Afghan National Army, International Security Assistance Force and US Army could take whatever action they want against terrorists,' he said.

'On the Pakistani side of the border, it is the Pakistani troops who have the sole responsibility to take action.'
 
Sadiq emphasised that 'any statement that negated this basic principle neither helped in the war on terrorism, nor promoted stability in the region'.

The Afghan government claims Taliban leader Mullah Omar is hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas and that Baitullah Mehsud's fighters help in launching cross-border attacks on coalition forces.

Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan who is based in the restive Waziristan tribal region, is currently holding peace talks with the Pakistan government through tribal elders.

Karzai's comments came five days after an air and ground strike by US-led forces in Afghanistan killed 11 Pakistani paramilitary personnel in the tribal belt.

Meanwhile, Lashker-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed said Karzai's 'threat to pursue the Taliban into Pakistani territory is in reality another American declaration of war against Pakistan'.

In a statement, Saeed, who now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, said, 'American violation of Pakistan's territorial sanctity is an ingredient of its machinations and attempts to sabotage the peace agreement between the Pakistani government and the local tribal population, and an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity'.

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