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Taliban want Pashtuns disenfranchised: Karzai

18 April, 2013

KABUL: President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said the Taliban were out to disenfranchise socially and politically Pashtun tribes living on both sides of the Durand Line at the behest of others.

Karzai, who phoned Pashtun nationalist leaders Asfandiyar Wali Khan, the chief of Awami National Party (ANP), and Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, strongly condemned a bomb attack on an ANP rally in Peshawar on Tuesday, a statement from the Presidential Palace said.

The attack claimed by the Taliban left 17 people, including a child, dead and scores of others, including women and children, injured in the Yakatoot neighbourhood. The blast came as senior ANP leaders, including Bilour, arrived at the gathering.

"The attack was carried out against a party which has been founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a non-violent freedom fighter," the statement said.

The bomb attack was the fourth on politicians in three days as Pakistan prepares to go for general elections on May 11.

Bilour, a former federal minister for railways, escaped with only minor bruises. He was shown on television footage with blood splatters on his shirt after the attack.

"Such attacks are being carried out by those who want Pakhtun tribes subjugated and deprive them of their political and social rights," Karzai said in the statement. He said the rebels were attacking peace loving Pashtun leaders who worked for the nation's development.

"Such inhuman and un-Islamic acts by the Taliban are aimed at meeting the goals of others as part of their opposition to the improvement of Pakhtuns' lives," he remarked.

In a reference to the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the high peace council head, ANP leader Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Pakistan People's Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto and the massacre of Hazara tribesmen in Quetta, Karzai said the world should not stay silent on such attacks against humanity.

The president talked over the phone to ANP central leader Asfandiyar on Tuesday night and also to Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and offered his condolences over the loss of life in the blast.

He said Afghanistan once again called on Pakistan to honestly cooperate with it in efforts at countering terrorism and insurgency, the statement said. "Afghanistan is ready for every kind of cooperation towards that end," the statement concluded.


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