Karzai puts pressure on Pakistan after WikiLeaks revelations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on July 29, 2010. (Getty Images)

July 29, 2010

(KATAKAMI / FRANCE 24 / AP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushed his international partners on Thursday to take stronger action against terrorist sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan. In a clear reference to havens in Pakistan, Karzai said: “The international community is here to fight terrorism, but there is danger elsewhere and they are not acting.”

Pressure is building on Pakistan to escalate the fight against militants on its soil, especially since the release of more than 90,000 leaked U.S. military documents posted Sunday on the web by WikiLeaks. The trove of U.S. intelligence reports alleged close connections between Pakistan’s intelligence agency and Taliban militants fighting Afghan and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan called the accusations malicious and unsubstantiated, but the push to persuade Pakistan to do more to eliminate Islamic extremists on its soil continues.

In a wide-ranging news conference, Karzai said Afghanistan has deep ties with “our brothers” in Pakistan. He didn’t mention Pakistan by name, but Karzai said that while Afghanistan is working diplomatic channels to prevent nations from training, protecting and giving sanctuary to terrorists outside Afghanistan, only the international community has the capability of actually doing something about them.

“The question is, why are they not doing it?” Karzai said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Pakistan needs to
make progress against terrorist groups on Pakistani soil.

“To be fair, the Pakistan government — they have taken action against these groups,” he said.

But refusing to back down from comments he made this week in India, Cameron added: “We need them to do more and we will support and help them as they do more.”

Karzai told reporters he ordered his cabinet ministers to study the war papers, especially those that address Pakistan and civilian casualties in Afghanistan. He also said documents that disclosed the names of Afghans who have worked with the NATO-led force were “shocking” and “irresponsible”.

“Their lives will be in danger now,” he said. “This is a very serious issue.”

Karzai also was asked about the Obama administration’s decision last week to target key leaders of the Afghan Taliban with new financial sanctions, a move that could complicate relations with Pakistan and the Karzai government’s efforts to try to talk with some insurgent factions.

The action by the Treasury Department freezes the militants’ assets, bans travel and triggers an arms embargo against three financial kingpins, including a key member of the al Qaeda linked Haqqani network, which directs operations against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan.

It follows similar action by the United Nations earlier this week, and it comes after calls from Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Afghanistan, and Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for sanctions against Afghan insurgent commanders operating in Pakistan.

Taken together, the US and UN sanctions prohibit any financial transactions of terrorist leaders in UN member countries, putting additional pressure on Pakistan to take broader actions against Taliban militants.

US officials have urged Pakistan to crack down on the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, saying Islamabad’s reluctance to move into the group’s base in North Waziristan is hampering the Afghan war effort.

Pakistan has moved cautiously, but has been slow at times to take on militants that Islamabad does not believe pose a direct threat. Pakistan has had historic relations with some of the Afghan insurgents, and analysts suggest Islamabad perceives them as useful allies in Afghanistan when international forces withdraw.

Karzai did not comment directly on the new sanctions, saying they were decisions by the US and international community. He said only that Afghanistan did not and would not have a so-called “blacklist”.

“We want to take a step toward the peace,” he said, adding that his government is reaching out to militants who want to lay down their weapons, sever ties with terrorists and embrace the Afghan government and its constitution. “Bullets firing from their guns are targeting their children, their property, their lives,” he said.

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