Pakistan Leader: 'Bad-Mouthing' Must Stop
Associated Press Writer
March 6, 2006
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- In comments aimed at Afghanistan's leader, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said Monday that the "bad-mouthing" of his country must stop and that Pakistani officials have caught terrorists "and will continue to do so."
Pakistan and Afghanistan are key allies of Washington in its war on terror. But relations between the two have been uneasy since Karzai, on a visit to Islamabad last month, gave a list to Musharraf of Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives he said were hiding in Pakistan.
Karzai also warned Pakistan to stop meddling in Afghan affairs in an interview with The Associated Press last month.
Musharraf's comments to Pakistani journalists on Monday was the latest volley between the two.
"The bad-mouthing against Pakistan is a deliberate, articulated conspiracy," Musharraf was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency, Associated Press of Pakistan.
Pakistan accused Afghanistan of leaking the list of fugitives to the media because Kabul did not trust Islamabad to act on it, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Kabul should not have waited for Karzai's Feb. 15 visit before sharing intelligence.
"There has to be harmony between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as both are fighting a vicious enemy," Musharraf was quoted as saying. "Nobody should doubt Pakistans intentions in fighting terrorists. We have captured terror operatives and will continue to do so."
On Sunday, Musharraf said in an interview with CNN that information he had received from Karzai indicating that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and key associates were hiding in Pakistan was outdated.
Musharraf on Monday said he had discussed the matter with President Bush during his visit last week to Islamabad.
In another sign of the increasing tensions, Aslam also urged Afghanistan -- and U.S.-led coalition forces -- to do more to stop militants from sneaking across the porous Pakistan-Afghan border into its tribal regions.
"We have deployed 80,000 troops there. They are sufficient in number, but we also want Afghan and coalition forces to equally contribute in stopping militants," she said.
Pakistan, which used to support Afghanistan's former Taliban government, switched sides in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and has backed Karzai since then.
But Kabul often says that Islamabad should do more to prevent remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida from crossing the border into Afghanistan.
Aslam also said the top U.S. military commander, Gen. John Abizaid, would soon visit Pakistan to discuss a range of security issues.