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Karzai seeks Pak support for Afghan peace process

February 21, 2012 18:09 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday underscored Pakistan's importance in the peace process in Afghanistan and sought Islamabad's support for the reconciliation process in the war-torn country.

Karzai made the remarks when he telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, an official statement said.

Gilani assured Karzai that Pakistan "would wholeheartedly support a peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led".

The Afghan president informed Gilani about his meetings with Pakistani political leaders during his visit to Islamabad last week and described them as "encouraging and constructive".

Karzai thanked Gilani for the hospitality extended to him during the visit for a trilateral summit with the presidents of Pakistan and Iran.

He also apprised Gilani about his telephonic conversation with US President Barack Obama after his return to Kabul from Islamabad.

The Afghan president met several prominent Pakistani politicians during his visit to Islamabad, including Maulana Samiul Haq of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, who is described as the "father of the Afghan Taliban".

Media reports said an angry and frustrated Karzai confronted Gilani's delegation during bilateral talks in Islamabad on Thursday and demanded that they produce Afghan Taliban leaders for talks.

Karzai's "language and tone flared to such an extent" that Gilani briefly halted the meeting, according to one report.

In an apparent response to Karzai's demands, Foreign

Minister Hina Rabbani Khar subsequently said Mullah Mohammad Omar, the supreme commander of the Afghan Taliban, was not in Pakistan and Islamabad could not ensure his participation in peace talks. Khar said it was "preposterous" to think that Pakistan could deliver Mullah Omar to the negotiating table.

She contended there was no "clarity" on the role that Kabul wanted Islamabad to play in the Afghan reconciliation process. The exchange between the leaders reflected the lack of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially with regard to the peace process and efforts to engage the Afghan Taliban.

Afghan leaders have repeatedly alleged that Pakistan is sheltering Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar.

Ties between the two countries plunged to a low last year after the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani. At the time, Afghan officials blamed the assassination on Pakistan-based elements.

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