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Pakistan sheltering Mullah Omar: Karzai
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April 02, 2007 08:33 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has charged the Pakistani intelligence agencies with sheltering Taliban leader Muhammad Omar, also called Mullah Omar, in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

'We have solid, clear information indicating that. And I am sorry I cannot be silent about this. As much as our friends in Pakistan may not like my saying this', he told The New York Times in an interview.

Karzai squarely blamed Pakistan for resurgence of Taliban and their ruling swath of Southern Afghanistan, saying he is sure that Islamabad is the reason for this.

'The point that we are trying to tell the world (is) that the Taliban was a name, that there was another power behind a very criminally intended colonial thinking behind Taliban', he said.

One of the central mistakes the west has made, Karzai asserted, was to battle the Taliban in Afghan villages instead of focusing on preventing Pakistan from financing and sheltering Taliban.

'Rather than concentrating on the sources of terror, on the financiers of terror, on the trainers of terror, and on sanctuaries of terror, (we concentrated) rather heavily going about in Afghan villages, where there was no terrorism..., but not the roots of terrorism, not the springboard of it', he told the paper.

Karzai emphasised that since Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had signed a deal with tribal leaders and withdrawn its forces, terrorism has 'surged'.

'We have almost daily reports of suicide bombers coming from there. If we had better cooperation from Pakistan, a great many of these cross-border crossings would stop', he said.

Karzai said that Pakistani government wants the Afghan government fail so that it can use the Taliban to turn Afghanistan into a colony of Pakistan.

The Afghan President said that extreme Taliban policies 'like whipping women, immodest women were part of a Pakistani scheme to destroy Afghan morale and render Afghanistan a helpless puppet' of Pakistan.

The Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who interviewed Karzai, says the charges were so serious that he repeated Afghan President's charges to ensure he had understood him correctly.

'Absolutely', replied Karzai. 'Absolutely'.

Meanwhile, the New York Times article quotes a Member of Parliament from southern province of Helmand, Haji Mir Wali, as saying that 90 percent of the provinces are under the control of Taliban who are winning.

'They are imposing their strict rule again', he says, adding outside the provincial capital, shops do not dare sell music, men who trim their beards are threatened with death and schools for both boys and girls have been closed.

'It is worse now than it was in the Taliban's time', says the Haji.

The reporter says that his own take after reporting from both sides of the border is that Musharraf is indeed turning blind eye to Taliban and aims to control it rather than wipe it out.

But the article also questions Musharraf's ability to destroy Taliban.

Karzai, it says, exaggerates the degree to which Pakistan is pulling the strings of 'Taliban puppets' and overstates Musharraf's ability to destroy Taliban.

Observing that there is plenty of blame to assign to Afghan and Americans as well, the report says the United States has not done enough to build up the Afghan army and police, which don't antagonise the conservative Afghans the way US troops often do.

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