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Karzai: Pakistan should talk more with Afghanistan

December 20, 2011
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KABUL, Afghanistan—President Hamid Karzai urged Pakistan on Tuesday to open up communications with neighboring Afghanistan even though it has thorny relations with the United States and Islamabad's archenemy, India.

Afghanistan and the U.S. have been pushing Pakistan to crack down on Islamic insurgents who use the border area to stage attacks in Afghanistan and help coax insurgents to reconcile with the Karzai government. Closer coordination between the two countries could help that effort.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have cooled over Kabul's signing of a strategic partnership with India and because of Pakistan's anger at the United States, which backs the Karzai government.

Tensions between Pakistan and the United States are at their lowest ebb in years following the Nov. 26 airstrikes at the Pakistani army border outpost that killed 24 soldiers. The Pakistani army responded by closing its border with Afghanistan to trucks carrying U.S. and NATO war supplies. It is demanding a complete review of its relationship with Washington.

"Our wish is that Pakistan have a policy like a neighboring country with Afghanistan," Karzai said in one of several interviews with Afghan television channels. "They should be in close contact with Afghanistan," even though Afghanistan has a friendship with India and the U.S.

"We are very hopeful that Pakistan -- based on their national interests and because they are a neighboring country -- will be in contact with us," Karzai said.

Karzai also denied that he wants Afghanistan to adopt a parliamentary system with a president and prime minister. That counters rumors that he is seeking a way to stay in power -- perhaps as prime minister -- beyond 2014, when he is required to step down. Afghanistan currently has a presidential system that limits a president to two five-year terms.

"I don't agree with changing the constitution to change from presidential system to a parliament," he said. "I am insisting that Afghanistan be run at least 10 more years with a presidential system."

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