Karzai hails Obama, calls for new strategy against terror

November 5th, 2008 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaKabul, Nov 5 (Xinhua) Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday congratulated Barack Obama on his victory in the US presidential elections and called for change in the strategy on war against terrorism. “I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on winning the presidential elections and we hope there will be a change in the strategy of war on terror,” Karzai told newsmen at a press conference here.

“The war on terror should be conducted in areas where the sanctuaries of terrorists and their training centres exist,” and not in Afghan villages, he said.

He did not specify any areas, but Afghan officials often said that Taliban militants and their Al Qaeda allies have taken shelter in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Moreover, Karzai described civilian casualties as a big problem and called on the new leadership of the United States to prevent such happenings in the future. “Our first demand is to avoid harming civilians in Afghanistan,” he noted.

Several thousand Afghan civilians have been killed in the US-led war on militants in Afghanistan over the past seven years, either by the Taliban militants or by foreign and Afghan troops.

In a most gruesome incident, some 90 civilians including women and children were killed in a US air strike in Shindand district of western Herat province on Aug 22.

Obama who in July paid a visit to Afghanistan had pledged that he, if elected, would send more US troops to the war on militants in Afghanistan where currently around 70,000 international forces, half of them from the US, are deployed.

He also said the US will launch unilateral attacks along the Afghan-Pakistan border if Pakistan is “unable” or “unwilling” to contain the escalating militancy in its northwest tribal areas.

Afghanistan-based US forces over the months had conducted several bombing attacks on Pakistani territory targetting militant hideouts but sometimes killed civilians, spurring anger among Pakistani military and local residents.

Saying it has the capability to handle militants on its sovereign soil, Islamabad has categorically denounced and protested such cross-border attacks.

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