Afghan president calls on Pakistan to rein in Taliban

Afghan president calls on Pakistan to rein in Taliban

The Afghan president called on Pakistan today to crack down on the Taliban after a suicide car bombing earlier in the day near Kabul's international airport killed five people, the latest in a wave of deadly attacks in the capital.

In a televised address, Ashraf Ghani also blamed neighboring Pakistan for what he described as Islamabad's support to the insurgents whose war against Kabul is now nearing its 14th year, and said he was sending a delegation to Islamabad later this week to demand a stop to this.

"We know they have sanctuaries there, we know they are active there," Ghani said, referring to Taliban leaders living in Pakistan. "We need all those activities to be stopped." There was no immediate reaction from Islamabad. Pakistan has in the past denied supporting the Taliban.

Since assuming office a year ago, Ghani has pursued closer relations with Pakistan, which wields influence over the insurgent group, hoping that it could use that influence to bring the Taliban into peace negotiations.

Pakistan hosted the first official round of Kabul-Taliban negotiations last month, but a second round that was due at the end of last month was indefinitely postponed after the Afghan government announced the death over two years ago of the reclusive Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The one-eyed Mullah Omar had hosted Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaida in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He had not been seen in public since fleeing over the border into Pakistan after the 2001 US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban. Since the announcement of his death, the Taliban have been torn by infighting and rivalries for the leadership post.

Today, Ghani appeared to take a step back on the peace talks.

"We don't want Pakistan to bring the Taliban to peace talks, but to stop the Taliban's activities on their soil," he said.

Only hours earlier, a suicide car bombing at a busy roundabout near the entrance to the Kabul airport killed at least five people and wounded 16, officials said. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

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