KABUL -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticized Pakistan for not doing enough to fight terrorism.
Speaking to reporters alongside NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on March 4 in Kabul, Karzai said Pakistan has taken "no practical steps" to help neighboring Afghanistan find a peaceful solution to Taliban militancy.
He said the recent bloody attacks against Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan's cities of Quetta and Karachi indicate that the situation is spiraling out of control and that both countries "are now burning in the same flame."
Karzai also said a recent statement by a leading Pakistani cleric shows that Islamabad is not sincere about the struggle against terrorism.
"[The head of Pakistan's Ulema Council] has announced that carrying suicide attacks in Afghanistan is legitimate, and is good," Karzai said of Tahir Ashrafi, who chairs that influential Pakistani council of clerics. "Obviously the people of Afghanistan conclude after this announcement that there is no practical step in fight against terrorism from the Pakistani side."
Ashrafi said last week that suicide attacks in Afghanistan were lawful because NATO-led troops are invaders who have occupied Afghanistan.
NATO Chief Adds His Voice
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Kabul on March 4, Rasmussen also condemned the cleric's statement.
Rasmussen joined Karzai’s call for Pakistan to do more to rein in extremist militants along its borders, even mentioning the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency by name.
"I would say that I would expect the ISI, as well as all other institutions in Pakistan, to play a constructive role to fight terrorism [and] to ensure that terrorists do not have sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the border," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen also said Afghan security forces would be capable of taking over security responsibilities across Afghanistan after NATO withdraws its combat forces by the end of 2014.
"If enemies of Afghanistan think that they can just wait us out and wait for the Afghan security forces to take over, then it will be a miscalculation because they will be faced with a very strong Afghan security force," Rasmussen said.
With additional reporting by AFP and AP