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Islamabad has no role in Afghan polls: FM

August 22, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Aug 21: Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said on Saturday Pakistan was sincerely trying to help bring and maintain peace in Afghanistan but had no role to play in the upcoming presidential elections there in October.

Talking to reporters at the PML house, he took a serious note of recent statements by some Indian ministers alleging so-called 'cross-border' infiltration in Kashmir and said nothing should be uttered which could spoil a congenial atmosphere in which both countries were holding their composite dialogue.

In response to a question, Mr Kasuri said the name of former army chief Gen (retd) Jehangir Karamat had been communicated to the United States as Pakistan's next ambassador there to replace Mr Ashraf Jehangir Kazi, who has been appointed as UN special envoy in Iraq.

He said a formal announcement about the ambassador's appointment would be made after an agreement, or approval, was received from Washington.

Mr Kasuri said Afghan President Hamid Karzai's upcoming visit to Islamabad was part of a continued interaction between the two countries to keep themselves abreast of each other's problems.

"We wish good luck to Mr Karzai in the presidential elections which he hopefully will win and we will readily extend him our facilitation as well as cooperation," he said.

In reply to a query, he said there was every hope that the remaining Pakistanis detained in Afghan prisons would soon be released after the US withdrew its objections.

He said the issue of Pakistani prisoners had figured on top of every diplomatic or high-level talks between the two countries' leadership while he had discussed the issue with American as well as Afghan leadership a number of times.