South Asia News
Karzai hails bin Laden death, warns Taliban of same fate
May 2, 2011, 15:25 GMT
Kabul - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that al- Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, killed earlier by US forces, was 'punished for his deeds,' and called on the Taliban to learn from his fate.
US President Barack Obama said Monday that bin Laden was killed in a firefight in northern Pakistan and the US forces had taken custody of his body.
Karzai, who was speaking to provincial representatives in a planned gathering in Kabul, said that bin Laden and his followers killed thousands of Afghans before and after the attacks on US cities on September 11, 2001.
Karzai said that the Taliban should learn from bin Laden's death 'if they have not yet,' and join the peace process in the country.
The president said that bin Laden's presence in Pakistan proved to the world that Afghanistan was right in saying ' the fight against terrorism is not in Afghanistan.'
'I want to call on NATO that the fight against terrorism is not in our homes or villages, nor is it in searching our homes. They should stop that,' he said. 'In yesterday's incident, they found Osama in Abbottabad (Pakistan), they did not find him in Logar or Kandahar (Afghan provinces),' he said.
'I hope yesterday's incident in Pakistan will help improve our security,' Karzai said.
The president has condemned recent incidents of civilian casualties inflicted by US and NATO military activities in Afghanistan, which have also provoked increasing resentment among the country's people.
Around 140,000 international forces, more than two-thirds US soldiers, are fighting the insurgency waged by the Taliban since they were ousted by US forces in 2001.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said the 'victory will not mark the end of our efforts against terrorism'.
'America's strong support for the people of Afghanistan will continue as before,' Eikenberry said in a statement.
Eikenberry also said Afghans suffered as much as any other nation from the campaign of terror by bin Laden and his extremist followers.
NATO spokesman General Joseph Blotz said the operation 'obviously struck an enormous blow to Al Qaeda and its affiliates.'
'The headquarters stopped its normal routine this morning to watch President Obama's announcement and then resumed its normal battle rhythm, including overseeing ongoing joint security operations with our Afghan partners,' Blotz told the German Press Agency dpa.
NATO forces are already at 'a heightened force protection posture' in the spring offensive and will continue to remain so 'taking additional measures where appropriate', the German general said.
The Afghan Defence Ministry said Monday that bin Laden's death was 'a big victory for all warriors of war on terror' and 'a remarkable defeat for terrorism and its supporters'.
The ministry also repeated Karzai's statement that Afghanistan was no safe haven for terrorists.
'We always claimed Afghanistan was not the place for terrorism shelters and funding sources. Most of the people rejected our claim but today we witness the killing of al-Qaeda leader outside Afghanistan,' the statement said.
Former Taliban envoy Abdul Salam Zaeef on Monday told the German Press Agency dpa that the death of al-Qaeda's leader 'won't affect the war in Afghanistan,' as 'this is an Afghan-led war.'
The assassination in Pakistan showed that bin Laden was not in Afghanistan and the US presence there was an 'unjust occupation,' he said.
He said 'all Muslims will be upset for sure' about the killing.
'This is jihad: if someone is alive, he is successful, but when he dies he becomes the real victor,' he said. 'As a Muslim, I feel that anyone who is martyred by Americans or other non-Muslims is not tolerable.'
Zaeed was arrested by US agents after the fall of the Taliban and detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was released in 2005 and recently removed from the United Nations list of terrorists.
Current Taliban spokesmen were not available for comment.
Afghan citizens expressed divided opinions.
'It is good news. Maybe we will have peace because of his death and I hope the war will wind down,' said Sayed Jabar, a shopkeeper in Kabul.
Abdul Ghafoor, a resident from the eastern province of Nangarhar, where bin Laden was allegedly last seen in Afghanistan, said, 'As a Muslim I am not happy to hear this.'
Read more about Afghanistan
Read more about Reactions
Read more about US Terrorism