(by Sharon Behn, WashingtonTimes.com) – The political divide between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf became increasingly acerbic yesterday, with the Afghan leader accusing his counterpart of pursuing policies that foster terrorism.
The outburst came on the eve of a critical meeting in which the two men will join President Bush in the Oval Office to discuss ways to improve their cooperation in fighting a revitalized Taliban insurgency.
In a reference to Pakistan, Mr. Karzai said in an address at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars yesterday that there will be no peace in the region until nations stopped using religious extremism as a means of promoting policy.
“For all of us in the world to be safer, we must remove the need for groups, organizations or state entities — and here I am beginning to be very careful in my remarks — of reliance on religious radicalism as instruments of policy,” he said.
“The increased attacks on Afghanistan and the cross-border activities; the loss of U.S., Canadian soldiers; the burning of mosques and attacks on children … is the continuing of reliance on radicalism as an instrument of policy,” Mr. Karzai said.
Many Taliban fighters escaped into Pakistan when U.S. troops landed in Afghanistan in December 2001 and worked with anti-Taliban Afghan forces to drive the al Qaeda-backed government from Kabul within weeks.
Pakistan, one of three countries that had recognized the Taliban regime, quickly joined the United States in its war on terror. According to Gen. Musharraf’s memoirs, published yesterday, Pakistan has handed over hundreds of al Qaeda suspects to the United States.
Gen. Musharraf, in the United States to address the U.N. General Assembly, insisted in an interview on Friday that the problem of terrorism in Afghanistan was rooted in Afghanistan itself.
Pakistani officials also have said that a recent agreement with tribal leaders along the Afghan border should put an end to cross-border raids and Taliban violence. But the pact has done little to stem terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
That violence continued yesterday in the southern city of Kandahar, where two men on a motorbike fatally shot Safia Ama Jan, a longtime women’s rights advocate who had run an underground school for girls while the Taliban was in power.
The Taliban had outlawed education for girls.
A funeral was held later yesterday at a crowded Shi’ite mosque for Mrs. Ama Jan, a provincial director for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
“The enemy of Afghanistan killed her, but they should know it will not derail women from the path we are on. We will continue on our way,” said Fariba Ahmedi, a parliament member from Kandahar, according to the Associated Press.
In his Washington address yesterday, Mr. Karzai said many of the terrorists afflicting his country get their start in religious schools, or madrassas, in Pakistan.
“Young, poor, unaware, uneducated children from the poorest of families are taken and preached hatred against me, against you, against any other person” in these schools, said Mr. Karzai, who urged Gen. Musharraf to shut down the madrassas and imprison those who teach there.
“Military action in Afghanistan alone is not going to free us of terrorism. Going to the source of terrorism — where they get trained, motivated, financed and deployed — is necessary now,” he said.
“They are told: ‘Go kill yourself in Afghanistan. Commit suicide and kill as many internationals and Afghans as you can, and the instant you are dead you will be in heaven.’ To a boy of 7, keep preaching that until he is 14, and you will have a suicide bomber,” Mr. Karzai said.
Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
1. List the countries that border Pakistan, and Afghanistan. For maps of Pakistan and Afghanistan, click here,
2. Name the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
3. What is the topic of the meeting President Bush is holding with Presidents Karzai and Musharraf?
4. a) In a speech yesterday, what accusation did President Karzai make against President Musharraf?
b) How had President Musharraf addressed this issue in an interview on Friday?
5. a) What is the Taliban?
b) How did the Pakistani government react to the U.S.’s defeat of the Taliban in 2001?
6. a) What is a madrassa?
b) Explain how madrassas create terrorists, according to Pres. Karzai.
c) What does Karzai urge Musharraf to do about madrassas?
OPTIONAL: Read further about Pakistan and terrorism at the Council on Foreign Relations website here.
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