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Karzai pledges to 'hunt' for Malala's attackers

November 10, 2012

Afghan President Hamid Karzai.—AP File Photo

MUMBAI: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday promised to hunt for the Taliban attackers who shot Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai for speaking up for girls' rights to education.

The Pakistani Taliban has admitted shooting Malala in the head on a school bus a month ago to punish her for the “crime” of campaigning for girls' rights to go to school in the militants' former Pakistani stronghold of Swat.

“Afghanistan will hunt for Malala's attackers,” Karzai said in an interview with India's CNN-IBN television network, aired as he began a four-day visit to the South Asian nation and as the world marked “Malala Day”.

Miraculously the 15-year-old survived the shooting and her courage, which won the hearts of millions around the world, prompted the United Nations to declare Saturday a “global day of action” for her.

Speaking about Malala, who is recovering in a British hospital, Karzai accused Islamabad of having armed and trained the teenager's assailants.

“Terrorism is a snake and when you train a snake, you can't expect it will only go in the neighbour's house,” he said. “When the attack on Malala happened, this proved our point,” he added.

“The earlier they (the Pakistanis) accept it and fight radicalism, the better for us, the better for Pakistan and the better for India,” Karzai said.

The Afghan President regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting Taliban Islamist insurgents trying to topple his government -- a charge Islamabad denies.

Separately, at a meeting with business leaders in India's financial hub Mumbai, Karzai promised a “red carpet” welcome for more Indian investment in Afghanistan as US-led Nato forces prepare to withdraw.

The two countries, traditionally close trading partners, last year signed a strategic partnership to deepen already friendly ties and boost trade, security and cultural links.

“Indian businesses need not be shy while thinking about Afghanistan,” Karzai said. “You are welcome on a red carpet.” Islamabad was a close ally of the 1996 to 2001 Taliban regime, but formally sided with the United States after the 9/11 attacks that precipitated the US-led invasion of Afghanistan which brought into power Karzai's Western-backed administration.