THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Afghans say Pakistan to strike hide-outs

Associated Press / June 13, 2011

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KABUL — Pakistan has agreed to target the hide-outs of Taliban fighters and other insurgents who attack neighboring Afghanistan and refuse to take part in faltering peace talks, Afghan officials said yesterday.

Many of the Taliban’s key leaders are thought to be hiding in Pakistan, and the threat of military strikes could be used to pressure fighters to negotiate. Still, how strong Pakistan will go after the Taliban remains in question, and there was no immediate confirmation of the agreement from the Pakistani government.

Taliban fighters and other groups have long used Pakistan’s tribal areas to launch attacks on NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, a point of contention between the two nations.

“The message is that people who want to take part in the peace process should have the way cleared for them,’’ said Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, secretary of a peace council set up by Afghanistan’s president. “To those that think war is the only means to reach their goals, there should not be a hide-out for them to continue their war.’’

Stanekzai and other Afghan officials spoke to journalists yesterday after Afghan President Hamid Karzai returned from a visit to Pakistan’s capital. CIA Director Leon Panetta also spoke separately with senior Pakistani officials about intelligence sharing and efforts to reconcile with the Taliban.

A four-page statement signed by Pakistani and Afghan officials dated Saturday gave no details about the proposed strikes, though Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has promised to help with the peace process.

Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said that Pakistan’s government has influence over some Taliban that could be used to draw them into the faltering peace negotiations. So far, there have been no substantive talks with any insurgent groups.

A plan to transition seven parts of the country to Afghan control will begin next month, Karzai’s office said in a statement.

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