KABUL (AFP) -Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta accused Pakistan of trying to play down the threat of “international terrorism” by labelling the Taliban uprising here an ethnic issue.
“The Pakistan president wants to play down the issue of international terrorism … to an ethnic issue in Afghanistan — that’s not true,” said Spanta, in response to a claim by Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf that Taliban insurgents had roots among Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes.
“The terrorism which is religious extremism is a global network operating against Afghanistan and other democratic states from Russia to India to America with the support of a country,” Spanta told a news conference in Kabul, in a clear reference to Pakistan. “Terrorism is not an ethnic issue.”
Musharraf made his comments in a speech to the European Parliament in mid-September.
In London on Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz repeated Pakistan’s view that the issue was an ethnic one, speaking on Sky news.
Aziz said that Pakistan had arrested “several people in and around (the Pakistani border city of) Quetta who appear to be Taliban … We believe this is entirely or largely an indigenous movement in Afghanistan that has to be tackled indigenously.”
Afghan and international officials say radical groups in Pakistan support the Taliban in their increasingly bloody insurgency against the Afghan government and nearly 40,000 foreign troops based here to hunt down militants, claims Islamabad denies.
The Taliban came to power in 1996 with the support of Pakistan, which was one of three nations to recognize their government.