Last updated: August 24. 2013 2:19PM - 33 Views

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KABUL, Afghanistan ‚?? What was he thinking? That's what many Afghans are wondering after President Hamid Karzai's comments during a televised interview that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if it ever went to war with the United States.The remark appears especially strange given that many Afghans, and Karzai himself on numerous occasions, had accused elements in Islamabad of supporting insurgents, such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network, in an attempt to keep Afghanistan in a constant state of turmoil.The Haqqani network, believed to be operating freely in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area, has been blamed for a recent series of high-profile attacks in Kabul, including one on the U.S. Embassy, as well as a suicide attack that killed 17 on Oct. 29.Presidential spokesman Amal Faizi attempted to clarify the president's remarks by saying that Karzai was not referring to U.S. military strikes inside Pakistan, such as its use of unmanned drones to strike at suspected militants, or the raid last May that led to the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.What Karzai meant, Faizi insisted, was that ‚??if America attacks Pakistan, and if the Pakistani people come to Afghanistan and ask for help, it will be (our) moral responsibility to help them. The doors of Afghanistan will be open to them.‚?Ě But others said that Karzai would do better to remain silent, especially during the current period of deteriorating relations between Washington and Islamabad.Sayed Fazel Sancharaki, spokesman for the Afghan National Front, the main political opposition to Karzai's administration, dismissed the president's comments, noting that he may have been trying to soothe bruised feelings in Pakistan following the signing of a strategic agreement between Afghanistan and India, Pakistan's longtime nemeses.‚??If this government did support Pakistan, then it would have reacted to the (U.S.) drone attacks in Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan,‚?Ě he said. ‚??Afghanistan has never taken a stand that backs Pakistan. Remarks like these from Karzai can only leave the people of Afghanistan and the international community in a state of uncertainty.‚?ĚAnd regional affairs analyst Abdol Rashid Waziri said the president would do well to avoid taking a position that most Afghans disagree with. ‚??Ninety-five per cent of the Afghan people do not view Pakistan with friendly eyes. They are doubtful about friendship with that country,‚?Ě he said.Political analyst Harun Mir said any statements that Afghan leaders make should always be carefully crafted to avoid the possibility that they might be misused or misquoted.‚??The president should have made diplomatic, measured remarks so that no one would be able to misinterpret them,‚?Ě he said. ‚??The president's discussions on Pakistani TV or other media outlets need to be very precise and calculated, because these media are monitored by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence agency) which can extract all kinds of interpretations from such remarks.‚?ĚIn reality, though, Pakistani officials probably take any comment made by Karzai with a grain of salt, Mir said. The same is true of Afghanistan's western allies.‚??Westerners are familiar with remarks of this kind from the Afghan president. They don't take them seriously, because there have been several occasions where such comments have been made, and his spokesmen have later said they were incorrect or offered another interpretation for them‚?Ě he said.Kabul resident Id Mohammad was among the many Afghans who found the president's quoted remarks offensive.‚??I am certain that if one day Karzai asks the people of Afghanistan to come and stand beside Pakistan against some other country, there will be no one in favor except Karzai himself. But if he calls on the people to come and take a stand against Pakistan, even the women and girls of this country will be prepared to do so,‚?Ě he said.


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