Afghan President Hamid Karzai marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the US by condemning “international terrorism” and offering condolences to the families of victims.
In a statement, Karzai said Afghanistan was not the source of militancy and those fighting it must focus on the “sources and birthplaces of terrorism,” an apparent reference to Pakistan.
The statement also refers to “innocent Afghans” as the victims of the current strategy of the war against the Taliban, which is nearing the end of its ninth year since the Islamists’ regime was overthrown in a US-led invasion.
“Afghan villages are not the birthplaces and sources of terrorism and innocent Afghan people must not become the victims of the war against terrorism,” Karzai said in the statement issued by his office.
“The right strategy of the war against terrorism is to focus on the sources and birthplaces of terrorism,” he said.
“The Afghan government invites the international community and all those who want a lasting and firm war against terrorism, with a critical assessment of the past nine years of anti-terror strategy, to adjust this strategy with the bitter realities regarding terrorism and to provide the grounds for victory,” he said.
The Afghan government, he said, “offers its firm solidarity with families, the nation and the government of the United States of America and all those who have become victims of terrorism all these years.”
Karzai’s mention of civilian victims is a thinly veiled reference to the US and NATO forces fighting to end the insurgency. It also earns him political points with a population exhausted by 30 years of war and which often blames the very presence of foreign troops for the ongoing violence.
The UN has reported that the number of civilian casualties in the Afghan war rose by a third in the first six months of this year, with insurgents killing seven times more civilians than NATO-led troops.
The Taliban issued a statement on Saturday in which they called on US forces to withdraw unconditionally and end the “illegal occupation” of Afghanistan.
The Taliban said that nine years after Sept. 11, the US, “despite using all possible military solutions in Afghanistan, know they have lost any possible chance for peace.”
“They are left with only one option and that is to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan without any preconditions ... because, first, their occupation of Afghanistan was illegal and also, second, they have been defeated in this illegal invasion,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets for a third day yesterday to protest against a US preacher’s plan to burn copies of the Koran.
Chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Christians”, demonstrators clashed with Afghan security forces in Logar Province.
Seven demonstrators were wounded, one seriously, when Afghan security forces opened fire to disperse hundreds of protesters marching to Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
Mohammad Rahim Amin, chief of Baraki Barak district just west of Pul-e-Alam, said two of the wounded died later in hospital.
“The governor must give us an assurance that the church is not going to burn the Koran, otherwise we will attack foreign troop bases in our thousands,” protester Mohammad Yahya said.
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