Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taliban in Pakistan threaten peace in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's president Tuesday praised U.S. plans to provide more civilian help to his country, and expressed hope that the country become less dependent on international partners in coming years. Hamid Karzai departs after registering as a candidate for August presidential elections in Kabul on Monday.
Addressing the re-emergence of Taliban militants, who were ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition after the September 11 attacks on the United States, Karzai said, "We did not address the question of sanctuaries in time," a reality, he said, that hurts Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will continue to suffer," Karzai said.
Taliban gains in Pakistan are a major theme this week in Washington, where Karzai and Zardari will be visiting key congressional leaders and policymakers before meeting with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Karzai, who made his remarks as Holbrooke testified about the problems in the region before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, touched on Obama's strategy, announced in March, to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Obama said sending "agricultural specialists and educators; engineers and lawyers" to Afghanistan will help "advance security, opportunity and justice" across the country. Karzai said the program will work if it is carried out "with the requirements of Afghanistan, with the plans of Afghanistan shared and supported by and agreed with by the United States, and in a manner that will add to Afghan capacity building."
It's important, he said, that Afghans see the war bringing them "safety and security," and improved security forces that can defend the country.
Karzai is running for re-election and has announced two running mates: current Vice President Kamil Khallili and a controversial former warlord, Mohamed Fahim.
Human Rights Watch was quick to criticize Karzai's decision to add him to the ticket.
Karzai defended Fahim, saying he "will be a factor of stability and unity for the Afghan people," noting that he has "contributed immensely in the war against terrorism, shoulder to shoulder with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan."
The president said he looks forward to a proper race.

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