Zardari, Karzai vow to step up cooperation in fight against terror

ISLAMABAD, Sept 15 (APP): Leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday vowed to expand scope of their talks aimed at greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism besides collaboration at bilateral political and economic levels.Addressing a joint press conference here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Asif Zardari and his Afghan counterpart said both the countries suffered from a common enemy of terrorism that need to be tackled with closer collaboration between their security and intelligence agencies.President Zardari said, “we have a common cause and suffer from this cancer of terrorism. They are friends of nobody and are our joint enemies.”He said the two countries needed to “raise the bar” and had more indepth cooperation to fight terror networks.

President Karzai said the objective of his visit was to have an open dialogue that was substantive, realistic and issue oriented and part of the ongoing campaign against terrorism.
Responding to a question about recent remarks made by his National Security Adviser in which he alleged that Pakistani intelligence agencies were helping the terrorists, Karzai said the matter was discussed during the talks.
“This is an ongoing dialogue and the fact and the ground reality is that both the countries are suffering from terrorism. They [terrorists] have to be based somewhere. They did not come from Ivory Coast or Bakina Faso. They came from our soil.”
He said the issue was how to tackle the sanctuaries, training, finances and resources used for the acts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Openness in dialogue is a step forward, that is substantive, realistic in the ongoing campaign against terrorism.”
He mentioned the recent spate of attacks in Pakistan and said Afghanistan too faced such gruesome and inhuman acts. He said it was a problem for both the countries and they must find a solution for their stability and that of the region.
To a question about involvement of India in acts of terrorism in Pakistan, Karzai said his country would act if provided evidence of use of its territory in the acts of terrorism in Pakistan.
“I speak with a clear voice and conscience. Afghanistan would be committing a great wrong to itself, if we allow our territory to be used by any country against Pakistan.” He said it was not in the interest of Afghanistan.
“If you have any evidence give it to us,” he said and assured that his country would definitely act if it finds any proof.
Regarding talks with the Taliban and his offer of peace to Mulla Umar, President Karzai said apart from campaign against extremism and terrorism, he was also engaging other means to bring peace and stability to his war torn country.
“We will engage with those who are not part of al-Qaeda and terrorist network and abide by the Afghan Constitution and the gains made in the 10 years … and have no enmity with us.”
He said his government was trying to seek all means to defeat the Taliban who were not “reconcilable” while engaging in a substantive dialogue to bring security and stability to both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Zardari said his country stood against terrorism and was part of the solution and its democratic government was not part of the problem.
To a question about Indian violence in held Kashmir, President Zardari said,” Pakistan condemns the brutal way in which India is handling the democratic struggle of Kashmiris”.
Karzai said he had a close relationship with the Indian Prime Minister and India had been a main contributor in the Afghan reconstruction and helping in areas like education and scholarships.
President Karzai while responding to the same question on India’s handling of the situation in Kashmir said if there was anything his country can do, it would humbly provide help if asked by Pakistan or India.
To a question regarding rumours about future of democracy, President Zardari said he did not need to comment on such rumours.  “Rumours are rumours.”
He stressed the need for keeping people aware about democracy.
He said democracy was working and it played its role during the natural disaster of floods and members of parliament were instrumental in dealing with the situation.
“We did not beg for it (democracy). We got it by fighting for it and we know how to defend it,” the President remarked.
Karzai said the Afghan nation felt pain of the people of Pakistan during the disastrous floods.
He conveyed the heartfelt sorrow of the Afghan people and expressed the belief that Pakistan would soon get over the difficult times.
He said Afghanistan would contribute with whatever assistance it can give for the flood victims.
Afghanistan is among the countries which have provided aid to Pakistan to overcome the tragedy.
Expressing his appreciation for the Memorandum of Understanding on trade and transit, he said it would be turned into an agreement.
President Zardari thanked Karzai for supporting Pakistanis in their moment of pain.
He said they had an interesting discussion for a better future of coming generations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Both countries geo-strategically have an important place, which if converted to positive use, they can show better performance for their countries,” he added – APP