The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karzai urges Pak clerics to stop backing Taliban

Kabul, Sept 12 (Reuters): Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Pakistani Muslim clerics today to stop backing the ousted Taliban and reiterated an amnesty to members of the radical militia who had not been involved in bloody “oppression”.

Speaking to a group of Afghan clerics at his heavily fortified presidential palace, Karzai said Pakistani clerics and preachers were involved in recruiting and sending members of the Taliban to destabilise Afghanistan.

“I am addressing those who, in the name of madarsas, are building a force of war against Afghanistan,” he said, referring to Muslim religious schools. “I am calling on Pakistani ulema to stand by Afghan ulema and feel pity for Afghanistan and not bring misery to Afghanistan.” Ulema are religious scholars.

Afghan officials have expressed concern over the election success last year of a six-member Islamic coalition in Pakistan that includes parties that were instrumental in training and arming the Taliban during its rise to power in the 1990s.

Many of the first wave of Taliban fighters emerged from religious schools on the Pakistani side of the border in the early 1990s. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance controls Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and has a share of power in Baluchistan, the two Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan.

While local officials in Pakistan deny religious seminaries near the Afghan border are being used to breed Taliban fighters, some young militants caught in Afghanistan said they were recruited in Pakistani madrassahs and mosques.

Afghanistan is in the grip of the worst few weeks of bloodshed since the Taliban were driven from power, and most of the violence has been blamed on remnants of the ousted regime and its allies.

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