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Kabul Stands By Criticism Of Pakistani Security Steps

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (file photo) (epa) March 7, 2006 -- A speaker for Afghan President Hamid Karzai today defended him against blunt criticism by Pakistan's president suggesting that Karzai was "totally oblivious" of intelligence matters in his own country.

The statements are the latest in a continuing diplomatic row that has seen both leaders venture personally into the fray, trading accusations and counteraccusations.

Karzai spokesman Karim Rahimi dismissed Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's claim that Kabul provided useless intelligence leads on Islamic militants, saying the information was "strong and accurate." He said the Afghan side will follow up by presenting Pakistani security services with further intelligence about the whereabouts of Islamic militants.

Afghan officials have described Musharraf's comments as "highly undiplomatic and inappropriate" but said that cooperation was still necessary.

On March 6, Musharraf said Afghan security services are conspiring against his country and making Pakistan appear as if it is not serious in fighting terrorism. He has also accused Karzai of being "totally oblivious of what is happening in his own country."

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah emerged from a special cabinet session on the Pakistani row on 6 March stressing the need for good bilateral relations and expressing concern over the leak of details of talks between Karzai and Musharraf to the media.

Kabul has consistently maintained, with varying degrees of urgency, that Pakistan is doing too little to capture cross-border insurgents and disrupt militants' operations.