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Pakistan Vows To Root Out Pro-Taliban Agents

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss allegations that Pakistan's intelligence agency was behind a deadly bombing attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

The two were in Sri Lanka to take part in a summit of South Asian leaders aiming to foster regional cooperation in combatting terrorism.

Allegations over Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency's involvement in the July 7 attack on the Indian Embassy was reportedly high on the agenda of the August 3 talks between Karzai and Gilani in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Afghanistan, India, and the United States have alleged that the ISI played a role in the bombing in which some 60 people were killed. Islamabad denies the allegation.

Addressing the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit on August 2, Karzai said that "terrorism and its sanctuaries" were gaining a "deeper grip" in Pakistan.

He also said terrorism was one of the main problems plaguing the region. "While the region has to deal with a myriad of serious problems such as chronic poverty, food, and energy shortages, environmental degradation, and the like, terrorism is by far the greatest and most menacing of all," he said.

Meanwhile Gilani said that if Karzai provided any evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the embassy blast, he would order an independent inquiry.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, "The New York Times" reported on July 31 that the U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that the ISI was behind the deadly attack.

The same day, the Pakistani government admitted that it needs to root out Taliban sympathizers from the ISI.

Government spokeswoman Sherry Rehman said there were "possibly" some individual agents whose ideological convictions were formed in 1980s, when the ISI supported Islamic militants fighting against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Rehman said such agents "act on their own in ways that are not in convergence" with the government policies. She added, "We need to identify these people and weed them out."

It was the first time Pakistan's new government acknowledged there could be pro-Taliban elements in the ISI. But Rehman later changed her statement, saying the problems at the ISI were in the past.

Pakistan claims that more than 1,000 of its security personnel have been killed in fights against Islamic insurgents since the U.S.-led antiterror campaign began in the region in 2001.

compiled from news agencies
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