KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged the world on Sunday to target the Taliban in Pakistan, adding that operations by foreign troops in his country had only led to civilian deaths among Afghans and not success in the war.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are both important U.S. allies but ties between the two neighbors have for decades been dogged by a border dispute. Recently, Kabul openly accused Pakistan of involvement in violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and al Qaeda militants routinely attack foreign and Afghan forces.
“If the world acts properly now and pays attention to the nests of terrorists, their training sites…the problem of the region would be solved,” Karzai said at a news conference when asked to comment about what the West, in particular the United States, needed to do to contain the growing Afghan violence.
“The use of air force in the campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan, apart from civilian casualties … has not had any other fruit to the people of Afghanistan and will not lead in the success against terrorism.”
Karzai said since the overthrow of the Taliban, he had repeatedly told Western nations with troops in Afghanistan that the danger against his country and the foreign troops was in Pakistan.
He said the West had only now realized the dangers and agreed with his assessment.
Afghanistan, Karzai said, did not wish to harm its neighbor, but wanted “hundred percent” the destruction of financial centers and training bases of terrorists there.
More than 15,000 people, including over 460 foreign troops from NATO and the U.S. military, have been killed in Afghanistan since 2006 when the ousted Taliban relaunched their insurgency.
Civilians, apart from the Taliban attacks, have also fallen victim to foreign troops operations and some 400 non-combatants have been killed so far this year, according to Afghan officials and aid agencies.
Afghanistan says Pakistan harbors the militants and Karzai last month said directly that Pakistani agents were behind recent spates of violence, including the suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7th which killed 58 people.
India has blamed Pakistan’s intelligence agency for the attack on its mission — a charge denied by Pakistan.
Islamabad backed the Taliban in Afghanistan through the 1990s but officially cut support after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers have been killed trying to dislodge al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from enclaves on the Afghan border. The militants have been responsible for many bomb attacks on Pakistani security forces.
Despite that, Pakistan has never been able to dispel suspicion that for various reasons, it is at least turning a blind eye to help going to the Taliban in Afghanistan.