Afghanistan and Pakistan Pledge Cooperation

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan met with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani here on Thursday in a show of public friendship, with both leaders stressing that stability for their countries hinged on mutual cooperation.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, left, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan in Islamabad on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Karzai — who is making his first visit to Pakistan since his re-election last year — met with the powerful Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Both countries are central players in American efforts to challenge Taliban militants who use the mountainous and often lawless border region between them as a sanctuary.

“It is the responsibility of our two governments that for the future generations, we remove the dangers and work toward stability and peace in both countries,” Mr. Gilani told a joint news conference with President Karzai, who said Afghanistan and Pakistan were “co-joined twins” whose destinies were interlinked.

Mr. Karzai also tried to assuage widespread public unease here about the growing influence in Afghanistan of India, Pakistan’s regional rival.

“Afghanistan does not want proxy war between India and Pakistan,” Mr. Karzai said but added that he appreciated Indian efforts in Afghan reconstruction.

Mr. Karzai arrived in the Pakistani capital on Wednesday and held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistani officials said that the two leaders have a warmer relationship than the frosty ties between Mr. Karzai and Pakistan’s former former president, Pervez Musharraf.

“Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have improved greatly,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a media adviser to Mr. Zardari.

“The two presidents spoke at great length about security situation and the fight both countries are waging against terrorism, the role of Al Qaeda and Taliban and the best way to deal with them,” Ms. Ispahani said.

Analysts in Islamabad said that President Karzai’s main mission was to seek Pakistani help in promoting conciliatory gestures and peace efforts toward the Taliban, whose fighters face an intensifying war in Afghanistan against the American-led coalition.

In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of arrests of militant leaders in Pakistan, most importantly that of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 Taliban figure detained in Karachi last month. However, Pakistani officials have rejected Afghan demands to hand him over.

On Thursday, Mr. Karzai said both countries were working on an extradition treaty.

Before leaving for Pakistan, Mr. Karzai met Wednesday in Kabul with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

source: The New York Times

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