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Afghan leader heads to neighboring Pakistan for talks on fighting militants

Afghan leader heads to neighboring Pakistan for talks on fighting militants

Afghanistan's president headed to neighboring Pakistan on Wednesday to coordinate the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants along the countries' shared border, a subject that has led to tension between the two U.S. allies.
President Hamid Karzai was to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for talks that will focus on economic ties as well as the battle against militants, said Mohammed Sadiq, spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.
Afghan officials have repeatedly said that Taliban- and al-Qaida-linked militants use bases inside Pakistan to orchestrate attacks against Karzai's U.S.-backed government.
In a speech last week, Karzai said that militant sanctuaries were located beyond Afghanistan's borders and he wanted the U.S.-led fight against terrorism "to go after their shelters ... and training centers."
Pakistan has denied the Afghan charges, but its security officials have acknowledged that local tribal fighters and militants of Arab, Afghan and Central Asian origin operate in the country's tribal regions along the Afghan border.
When asked if the dispute will be brought up at Wednesday's meeting, Sadiq said: "We will discuss what are our concerns; if they have any concerns they will discuss them."
A recent U.S. intelligence report indicated that al-Qaida _ blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. _ may be regrouping in North Waziristan, a tribal region where militants have staged almost daily attacks against Pakistani security forces in recent months.
When he declared a state of emergency in November, Musharraf cited the fight against increasing militancy in the country's northwestern areas close to Afghanistan.
The emergency has been lifted, but Pakistan has seen a spate of suicide attacks in recent weeks. One bomber struck a crowded mosque Friday, killing 56 people.
Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Tuesday accused Musharraf of failing to stop the spread of Islamic militancy and promised to crack down on extremist groups if she wins Jan. 8 parliamentary elections.
Bhutto, a former prime minister who returned from exile to lead her opposition party in the poll, told about 4,000 supporters that extremism and terror flourished across the country since Musharraf seized power eight years ago in a military coup.
"The areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan became a haven for extremists, and the extremism and terrorism is flowing down into other areas," she said.
If elected, her party would clear the extremists from Pakistan, she said.
Speaking Tuesday, Musharraf said his government was working to tackle the ongoing challenge posed by Islamic extremists.
"We are facing this internal threat and tackling the situation tactfully," he said in a speech.
Meanwhile, a small bomb exploded at a cable television office Wednesday in the northwestern city of Peshawar, causing no injuries, police said.
Islamic militants have recently begun attacking music shops, billboards with images of women and other businesses they believe violates their extreme interpretation of Islamic law.


Updated : 2021-01-16 14:10 GMT+08:00