Karzai Says Afghanistan Would Back Pakistan in a Conflict With U.S.
Afghanistan — Days after he stood with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and accused Pakistan of harboring his country’s enemies, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said this weekend that his country would support Pakistan if it ever went to war with the United States.
He appeared to be trying to reassure Pakistan of Afghanistan’s friendship after months of increasing tensions between the neighboring countries, while also urging Islamabad to sever its ties to militant extremists who are using the country as a haven to attack Afghanistan.
But the comments, which were broadcast Saturday on Pakistani television, again displayed Mr. Karzai’s ability to mystify his Western backers who have shored up his administration with billions of dollars in aid and military support during his nearly 10 years as Afghanistan’s leader.
“God forbid, if there is ever a war between Pakistan and America, then we will side with Pakistan,” he said in the interview with Geo Television, which was conducted partly in Urdu, partly in English. He added that Afghanistan would back Pakistan in a military conflict with any other country, including its arch-rival, India, which recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan.
“If Pakistan is attacked, and if the people of Pakistan need help, Afghanistan will be there with you,” Mr. Karzai said. “Afghanistan is a brother.”
Gavin Sundwall, a spokesman for the American embassy in Kabul, referred questions about the comments to the Afghan government. “But,” he added, “we know that we all share common goals and need to work together to resolve common problems. This is not about war with each other, this is about a joint approach to a threat to all three of our countries: insurgents and terrorists who attack Afghans, Pakistanis and Americans.”
The presidential palace did not respond to several requests for clarification. One senior European diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he had not had a chance to speak to the president, called the statements perplexing.
“I’m trying to understand what he was really saying,” the diplomat said. “I wish we had clarity on that. This is not the first time that he has made controversial assertions.”
The diplomat added that the president might have been trying to strike a calming tone with Pakistan whose cooperation Mr. Karzai sees as necessary to bring the Taliban to any peace talks.
“But the way he expressed himself is not very productive,” the diplomat said…