Karzai Showdown with Musharraf Tonight?

Sep 27, 2006 8:22pm

ABC News has learned that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will demand that Pakistan take several specific steps to crack down on what Mr. Karzai calls the "sources of terrorism" in Pakistan.  President Karzai and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf attended an unusual dinner at the White House this evening with President Bush. "It will be interesting for me to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are," Bush had told reporters at a news conference yesterday. The two leaders, who have both been in the United States attending the U.N. General Assembly for the past ten days, have been trading charges and counter-charges regarding their respective government’s policies on combating terrorism.  The border area between the two countries is believed to be the epicenter of global Islamic terrorism. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS "We’re Losing Ground" in Afghanistan Says Top NATO Commander Pakistan Denies Bin Laden Gets a Free Pass Click Here for More of the Brian Ross Page Intelligence analysts believe that the leadership of al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, are hiding in the remote, mountainous areas. The Taliban is also believed to be operating a resurgent terrorist campaign that has killed hundreds of U.S., British, Canadian and Afghan military and civilian personnel in the past six months from the border areas. President Karzai will ask that President Musharraf make firm commitments to: 1) Arrest senior Taliban leaders believed to living in Pakistan and coordinating the increasingly violent and effective insurgency across the border in Afghanistan; 2) Shut down the hundreds of extremist madrassas, or religious schools, that are producing thousands of potential terrorist recruits every year; and 3) Issue unequivocal support for the elected government of Hamid Karzai and make it clear that the insurgency in Afghanistan is not a legitimate "jihad" or "Holy War," according to sources close to the Afghan President. These are not new issues. Although disputed by President Musharraf, both U.S. and Afghan intelligence believe that much of the senior Taliban leadership is living in Pakistan. For example, Gen. James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee that it was "generally accepted" that a Taliban headquarters was based in the Quetta region of southwestern Pakistan. Of the roughly 10,000 madrassas, more than 2,000 are considered extremist by General Musharraf’s own estimate. According to independent studies, such madrassas are controlled by radical religious or militant groups, the curricula are restricted to religious studies, and the instructors often foster anti-western and "jihadist" world views. Previous commitments by the government to reform the madrassas have yielded few results. Regarding the legitimacy of the Karzai government, President Musharraf has said that he recognizes President Karzai as the leader of Afghanistan, but he has also made it clear that he feels that the Afghan government is not sufficiently representative of the Pashtun ethnic group that is dominant in the provinces on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of the Taliban are Pashtuns. Musharraf has also been highly critical of President Karzai charging that the Afghan President does not grasp what is going on in his own country — that the insurgency is entirely Afghan, and that it is fueled with drug profits in the burgeoning heroin trade in Afghanistan.

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