Karzai says WikiLeaks help ties with Pakistan

By Hamid Shalizi

KABUL (BestGrowthStock) – Leaked U.S. government cables critical of Afghanistan and Pakistan have helped bring the two nations together, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday, dismissing their content as lies.

Karzai also hinted, at a joint news conference with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, that outside agents may be working to destabilize the neighbors.

“Whatever the intention was of the WikiLeaks, they helped relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, so in that sense the Wikileaks were good for us,” Karzai said, without detailing how damaging allegations in the cables might have brought them together.

Karzai, who has recently been publicly critical of Western tactics in the fight against the Taliban, said ties with Islamabad were solid. “I can assure you that there is no trust deficit between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he told journalists.

Relations between the two countries have often been strained, particularly over links between Pakistan’s intelligence service and the Afghan Taliban, and the involvement of Pakistan-based militants in the Afghan insurgency.

Karzai said both countries may be struggling against malign outside influences, questioning why U.S.-led foreign forces who helped topple the Taliban in 2001 were now struggling to make progress against insurgents.

“We have seen that terrorist attacks have increased in Afghanistan,” he said. “Is it that all the (violent) activities carried out in Afghanistan are coming from Pakistan, or a broader conspiracy is working to destabilize both Pakistan and Afghanistan?”

Gilani also said the two nations had to work together.

“We are also suffering as Afghanistan is suffering. That means we should not go for a blame game; rather we should sit together and think about what should be the strategy,” he said.

Karzai brushed off cables from WikiLeaks detailing widespread corruption in Afghanistan and harsh personal criticism from within his own cabinet, saying they were empty lies designed to undermine him.

Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal described Karzai as an “extremely weak man,” one cable dated February this year said.

“Negative words about me are not something new,” Karzai said when asked about the cables. “They are defaming Zakhilwal.”

Other cables released by WikiLeaks highlighted U.S. concerns over militancy in Pakistan and the safety of its nuclear weapons.

(Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Karzai says WikiLeaks help ties with Pakistan