KABUL, June 15: President Hamid Karzai on Sunday threatened to send Afghan troops after Taliban leaders inside Pakistan.
Speaking at a news conference on the grounds of his fortified presidential palace, Mr Karzai said Afghanistan had the right to self-defence, and because militants crossed over from Pakistan “to come and kill Afghan and coalition troops, it exactly gives us the right to do the same”.
President Karzai warned Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud that Afghan forces would target him on his home turf. “Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house.”
“And the other fellow, (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar of Pakistan, should know the same. This is a two-way road in this case, and Afghans are good at the two-way road journey. We will complete the journey and we will get them and we will defeat them. We will avenge all that they have done to Afghanistan for the past so many years,” he said.
Mr Karzai alleged that most of the militants involved in recent fighting in the Garmser district of Helmand province came from Pakistan. Hundreds of US Marines have been battling militants over the past two months in the area.
The Afghan president called Pakistan a “brother government” and “friend” but urged it to “act against those elements that are making Pakistan and Afghanistan insecure”.
He said it was better for Afghan troops to be killed during offensive operations into Pakistan than in militant attacks in Afghanistan.
A spokesman for Nato’s International Security Assistance Force refused to comment, but another Isaf official said he thought the statement should be seen as a reflection of frustration with militant “safe havens” but not as a sign that an attack was imminent.
The US has spent more than three billion dollars over the past two years for training and equipping the Afghan army, and Mr Karzai’s comments raise the spectre that a US-trained Afghan military could be used to attack Pakistan. However, the Isaf official dismissed the idea.
The threat comes two days after a sophisticated Taliban assault on Kandahar’s prison freed 870 prisoners, including hundreds of militants.
Last week, US aircraft dropped bombs along the Afghan-Pakistan border, killing 11 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers.
HUNT FOR FUGITIVES: US-led coalition and Afghan forces killed more than 15 militants during a hunt for inmates who had fled the Kandahar prison after the attack on Friday. The US said it could not immediately confirm that any of those killed were escaped prisoners.
According to Kandahar police chief
Sayed Agha Saqib, the prisoners who had escaped included about 400 Taliban. He said on Sunday that Afghan forces had recaptured 20 prisoners, including seven Taliban.—AP