Karzai warns shelling could dent ties with Pakistan
NEW YORK (PAN) President Hamid Karzai warned on Tuesday periodic Pakistani shelling of the Afghan villages in eastern provinces could threaten relations between the two neighbours and undermine regional security.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Karzai said Afghanistan remained committed to a “close dialogue” with Pakistan in support of regional peace efforts. However, he said the recent shelling of villages in Kunar threatened to undercut those efforts.
“We are deeply committed to our brotherly relations with Pakistan, but (we) are aware of the challenges that may strain our efforts at building trust and confidence,” Karzaid told the world leaders. “Such incidents as the recent shelling of Afghan villages risk undermining the efforts by both governments to work together in the interest of our common security.”
At least 12 people have been killed and 40 injured in cross border missile attacks carried out from the Pakistani side of the border, according to local authorities in Kunar.
Before Karzai’s address to the assembly, his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari assured the international community that Islamabad was supportive of an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-driven and Afghan-led” peace process. However, he said nothing about the cross-border shelling incidents.
“In Afghanistan, we have begun to engage and deepen our friendship with the entire range of the Afghan political spectrum,” Zardari said. “We believe that a sovereign, stable and secure Afghanistan is good for the Afghan people. And what is good for the Afghan people is good for Pakistan.”
Zardari called on the international community to support the three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan in their quest to return home with dignity.
The Pakistani leader declared his country had suffered enough in its fight against extremist terror and should not be asked to do more. “No country and no people have suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism than Pakistan,” he insisted.
Zardari said regular US drone strikes against targets in his country made his task of selling the fight against terror to his people harder, as did the massive increase in Afghan drug exports since the US-led invasion.
Confronting global tumult and Muslim anger, President Barack Obama exhorted world leaders to stand fast against violence and extremism, arguing that protecting religious rights and free speech must be a universal responsibility and not just an American obligation.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's opening state-of-the-world speech to the General Assembly's presidents, prime ministers and monarchs sketched the current time as one when "too often, divisions are exploited for short-term political gain" and "too many people are ready to take small flames of indifference and turn them into a bonfire."
The leaders are assembled as anger still churns over a made-in-America video that mocked the Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH). The video helped touch off protests throughout the Muslim world that have left at least 40 people dead, including the US ambassador to Libya.
President Karzai said the film had landed in the entire world into a new trouble as it played with the sentiments of more than one and a half billion Muslims.
“We strongly condemn such blasphemous acts in all forms in the name of freedom of speech,” Karzai told the world leaders.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the violent protests that erupted in many Muslim countries over the YouTube video were indicative of the “negative mindset” of many Muslims toward the US.
He insisted his country was ready to make concessions on its controversial nuclear programme, but again accused Israel of fomenting tension in the Middle East and criticized international atomic regulators for what he called “double-standards.”
His remarks come as rhetoric has reached alarming levels in the Middle East, with Israeli officials claiming that Iran is nearing a “zone of immunity,” when a military attack on its nuclear facilities will be impossible and Iran will be able to manufacture nuclear weapons without restriction.
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