Islamabad, April 22 (Reuters): Afghan President Hamid Karzai today played down recent clashes along the Pakistani border as well as talk of a rift over support for Taliban remnants, and vowed that ties between the two nations remain close.
Karzai was addressing a joint news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali during a state visit to Pakistan.
Some Afghan officials say the fundamentalist Taliban militia, ousted late in 2001 by US-backed opposition groups, is trying to regroup on Pakistani soil, helped by some Pakistani officials. There was also an exchange of shell and rocket fire along the border last week, and an Afghan military commander accused Pakistani militia of occupying a village in the eastern province of Khost. “Things like that are bound to occur between people at all times,” Karzai said, when asked about the border clashes. “It is not something we have taken seriously, it is not something we have noticed. I did not even raise it with Prime Minister Jamali.”
Karzai said Pakistan’s government had assured him of its full cooperation in the hunt for former leaders of the Taliban.
“Pakistan is a brother of ours and as a brother Pakistan would do all to help Afghanistan attain the best levels of safety and security,” he said.
Pakistan was the main backer of the Taliban until the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
Diplomats in Kabul say the Afghan government is extremely worried some Pakistani officials could be supporting remnants of the Taliban.
In January, Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah said Pakistan could do more to help round up Taliban leaders on its soil, and said “rogue elements” within the Pakistani intelligence network could be helping them.