Afghan rejects anti-Pak camps

KABUL: Afghanistan firmly rejected Sunday reported claims by a Pakistani minister that President Hamid Karzai had admitted that "terrorist" training camps in this country were operating against Pakistan.

"This is absolutely not true. This is baseless," Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said at a press conference, also denying that Karzai had further told his ministry to take action against these training grounds.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik reportedly told Pakistan's GEO TV station that Karzai had made the admission during a meeting in Kabul last month.

Malik was also quoted as saying: "Karzai directed his security adviser and interior minister to destroy and close down all training camps working against Pakistan."

Rejecting this claim, Atmar said the president had rather pledged "firm action" against threats to Pakistan from Afghanistan should he receive evidence.

Atmar also disagreed with the Pakistan minister's reported claim that 90 percent of militants arrested in Pakistan were of Afghan origin.

Kabul had "strong evidence" that Afghan as well as Pakistani, Central Asian and Al-Qaeda-linked militants of various nationalities were operating from safe havens across the border, the minister said.

"It doesn't really matter which country is the origin of a terrorist," he added.

"What really matters that we must stop the sanctuaries and destroy the training facilities, the financial support network and the system whereby the terrorists are provided with weapons and the (border) crossing points for the terrorists."

The row threatens to open old wounds between the Islamic neighbours about extremist gains in both nations despite international consensus that a joint effort is needed to fight the growing threat.

Afghanistan's nearly eight-year insurgency is at its deadliest and there are allegations that Pakistan has turned a blind eye to the Islamist militants behind the violence who take shelter across the border.

Islamists in Pakistan have meanwhile made gains over the past year, carrying out major attacks and capturing territory, forcing the government into action.