No peace with Al Qaeda: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan and NATO, urging militants to join the ongoing reconciliation and reintegration process, asked Pakistan on Tuesday to take more effective steps to curb the scourge of terrorism in the region.
Now is the time to defuse tensions and there is a real chance for peace with the fighters, President Hamid Karzai told a news conference that he jointly addressed with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Kabul.
He held Al Qaeda responsible for the current conflict in the country and said there was no question of making peace with the terrorist network.
Rasmussen also called for Afghan rebels to seize the peace opportunity, cut ties to Al Qaeda and abide by the Afghan constitution. "If you opt for war, you would not be the winners," he said, referring to the Taliban and their allies.
Asked if Taliban leader Mullah Omar could also benefit from the reconciliation offer, the NATO chief said the terms and conditions for peace negotiations were clear. Those who wanted to enter the Afghan-led drive should sever links to terrorist groups and respect women's rights, the former Danish prime minister stressed.
Karzai told a questioner he discussed with the visiting dignitary a number of issues, including the security transition, situation in the region, war on terrorism, civilian casualties and Afghan-US strategic cooperation.
Afghanistan desired friendly relations with Pakistan and a joint campaign against the common foe of terrorism. Both were victims of the menace, he explained, suggesting the Taliban's spring offensive -- codenamed as Badr -- was planned in the neighbouring country.
NATO-led operations were confined to Afghanistan, but ISAF troops had also taken measures for protecting Afghans, Rasmussen said, urging Pakistan to take effective steps to eliminate insurgent hideouts on its soil.
"Last November, we agreed that the transition to Afghan security lead would start this year. And that agreement is now turning into reality … I am looking forward to July, when Afghan security forces will take over in the first seven provinces and districts, representing about one quarter of the population," he said.
In a message to the Taliban, he said: "If you continue on the road of violence, you will find no victory, only defeat. Now is the time to follow the road of peace. Cut ties to Al Qaeda and other terror networks; renounce violence; abide by Afghanistan's constitution."
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