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Officials Deny Karzai Met Insurgent Leader

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Pakistani and Afghan officials have dismissed reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai met a top militant leader in Kabul in a meeting arranged by the Pakistani army, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

International media have reported that Karzai met over the weekend with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani network, in Kabul. The network, an insurgent group fighting Afghan and international forces in Afghanistan, is said to be operating from Pakistan's rugged North Waziristan border region.

But Karzai's press office has rejected the reports as baseless. Hamid Elmi, an official at the press office, told Radio Mashaal that "there was no substance to those reports."

Major-General Athar Abbas, the director-general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations, also told Radio Mashaal on June 28 that the news reports were false.

The denials come as Pakistan's chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, visited Kabul on June 28.

Analysts say the visits to Kabul of Kayani, Pasha, and several other prominent foreign officials in recent days show that important regional political and
security developments are likely to come.

Salim Safie, an Islamabad-based political analyst, told Radio Mashaal that the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal by President Barack Obama was a major development and that this year will be decisive for the fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"When the Afghan government is trying to find a political solution, it knows the importance of Pakistan's role. And the American government also wants Pakistan to play its role in the expected political solution," said Safie.

Nasrullah Stanikzai, an analyst at Kabul University, also told Radio Mashaal that important changes are in the offing.

He said the United States has been pressuring Pakistani authorities to help resolve the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"I think if Pakistani authorities sincerely keep the interests of Afghanistan in mind, and by the same token, the Pakistani, Afghan, and the American authorities ensure the Indians that their interests would not be affected by the proposed changes, [then] there is a chance for positive changes, but it
will not be soon and will require time," Stanikzai said.