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Karzai raises concerns with Pakistan over attacks

July 05, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaking at a press conference in Kabul. - Reuters (File Photo)

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that he had expressed “deep concerns” to his Pakistani counterpart about deadly rocket attacks launched across the Taliban-troubled border.

Around 200 Afghans protested in the capital on Saturday against the attacks which have fanned tensions between the neighbours at a time of flagging Western support for the long war with the Taliban.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Afghan leader said he had raised the sensitive issue with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at a recent meeting.

“The shells and artillery fired from Pakistan territory to Afghanistan have led to the death and injury of a number of our citizens,” Karzai said.

“I have been very clear on the position of Afghanistan... We expressed the deep concerns of the people of Afghanistan and asked for an immediate stop to the shelling from Pakistani territory.” Karzai said Afghanistan would not retaliate.

Pakistan disputes the Afghan version of events and says it has not fired deliberately on its neighbour’s territory and says it is contending with Taliban attacks from Afghanistan.

The Pakistan army admits only that its security forces may have fired a few accidental rounds into Afghanistan while pursuing militants across the porous 2,400 kilometre (1,500 mile) border.

Pakistan said Monday that dozens of Taliban infiltrated from Afghanistan to attack a check post, killing one soldier.

There are Taliban strongholds on both sides of the border, but Afghan and US officials want Pakistan to do more to eradicate militant sanctuaries in its semi-autonomous tribal belt that is used to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Cameron, appearing with Karzai, struck a diplomatic note over the issue and said Britain backed an improvement in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.

“Now is the time for Pakistan and Afghanistan to sit and meet and talk on how we are to ensure what we need to do,” he told reporters.