Cameron calls for joint force of Afghan-Pakistan to curb terror
KABUL BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron called on Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday to make a joint effort against insurgents in the two countries’ border zone.
He also expressed confidence that Afghan forces will be able to hold their own after the majority of foreign troops leave at the end of 2014.
Cross-border fighting and the stalled Afghan peace process were the main topics of discussion at a three-way meeting in Kabul between Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Cameron.
The British, US and Afghan governments have long criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to stop cross-border attacks. Many insurgents groups are based in safe havens in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Islamabad also charges that insurgents cross the border from the Afghan side and attack Pakistani security forces. “The terrorists that are trying to wreck Afghanistan are by and large the same terrorists that are trying to wreck Pakistan,” Cameron said. “We should be together in one single fight.” Britain’s involvement could help America’s effort to push Pakistan to crack down on the safe havens and also to use its connections with some Taliban leaders to promote peace talks.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States have been rocky at best, with their lowest point coming late last year after American airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the border.
Britain also sees the border areas as a main base for terrorists planning attacks against the West, although Cameron said that less than half of terrorist plots against Britain now originate from Pakistan’s border regions ó down from twothirds as recently as 2010.
Three men were charged on Wednesday in London with travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training. “We are making progress, and this is our fight as much as your fight and the Pakistanis’ fight,” Cameron said.
Pakistan’s Ashraf, who took office last month, and Karzai were also holding separate talks together. His spokesman, Akram Shaheedi, said the prime minister also plans to push the Afghan government to stop militants from its country from infiltrating Pakistan.
Ahead of the visit, Shaheedi said Pakistan supports peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, but the outcome should not adversely affect the country.
The Taliban has refused peace talks with Karzai, calling him a puppet of the United States. Instead, they have held talks directly with American officials. They broke off talks earlier this year, saying the US reneged on a promise to release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
The talks have so far shown no signs of restarting.
Pakistan is seen as key to breaking this impasse because of its historical ties with the Taliban. “The peace process is the most important of our pursuits for Afghanistan. It remains the highest priority,” Karzai said.
Karzai said having talks among the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Britain was Cameron’s idea and that there had been minister- level meetings among representatives of the three countries.