Associated Press, 7:40 PM EDT, UPDATED 8:00 PM:
Afghan president gives up trying to talk with TalibanAw, put a sock in it, Gilani.
By DEB RIECHMANN
Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) President Hamid Karzai has given up trying to talk to the Taliban, saying in a video released Saturday that Pakistan holds the only key to making peace with insurgents and must do more to support a political resolution to the war.
Karzai revealed his tougher stance against Pakistan, which he claims is harboring militants, on the same day that the Afghan intelligence service said it has hard evidence that the assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani was planned on the southern outskirts of Quetta, the Pakistani city where key Taliban leaders are based.
Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi went even further, stating in an Afghan parliamentary session that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency was involved in Rabbani’s killing — an allegation Pakistan has denied.
"Without any doubt, ISI is involved in this," Mohammadi told Afghan lawmakers on Saturday.
The claims follow similar accusations against Pakistan from the United States, reflecting the growing frustrations with a central player in the region whose cooperation is crucial even as its intentions are under question.
Critics have accused the Pakistani government of protecting Taliban leaders to maintain good relations with the group in anticipation of Western forces’ eventual withdrawal from the country — an allegation denied by Pakistan. Many analysts also believe the ISI’s alleged support for insurgent groups is an attempt to promote Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan and counter the influence of archenemy India, which Karzai plans to visit this week.
Addressing a public rally on Saturday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani offered to share intelligence on Rabbani’s assassination and said his nation was ready to hold talks with anyone interested in peace. Most of the Taliban leadership is thought to be living in Pakistan, and its governing council, the Quetta Shura, is named after the Pakistani city.
Calling Karzai his brother and friend, Gilani said, "He has some misunderstanding on the assassination of Professor Rabbani."
As for Karzai: Make sure, make goddamn sure, that this time you don't give into pressure from the U.S. and the U.K. regimes; no matter what they throw at you stand by your words today. They pressure you again, and they will, they blackmail you again, and they will, they threaten you again, and they will, just tell 'em, 'I refuse to keep taking orders from fiends -- and governments that knowingly pay another government to murder their own troops are nothing more than a collection of fiends -- fiends and ghouls.'
As to the perils of telling a fiend straight to its face that it's a fiend -- yes, well, that's a conundrum I've never quite resolved for myself, so I am not taking the high road with Karzai. But I do know from experience that there are times when one has no option but to name evil for what it is and yes, tell it straight out that you know you're confronting a real fiend. I think that now is one of those times for Hamid Karzai.