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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
US and Pakistan 'share Afghan goal'
Colin Powell (l) and Pervez Musharraf at a joint news conference after their talks
US and Pakistan: Common goal, strengthened ties
Pakistan and the United States have said their common goal is a broad-based multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan, freely chosen by the Afghan people without outside interference.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, speaking after talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Islamabad, pledged to support the US campaign as long as it lasts, but said he hoped the military action would be "short and targeted".


There is no doubt that we both have a common goal to see that the Afghan government is one that will represent all the people of Afghanistan

Colin Powell
Mr Powell told the news conference in Islamabad that the issue of Kashmir was crucial to the stability of South Asia and he called on Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue.

Mr Powell's tour, which has now taken him to Delhi, has coincided with the worst fighting between Indian and Pakistani forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir for nearly a year.

Broad-based government

President Musharraf said he regretted that by not handing over Osama Bin Laden, the authorities in Afghanistan had jeopardised the interests of their own people.

He said he and Mr Powell had agreed that any future Afghan administration must be broad-based and would include members of the opposition and some members of the Taleban.

Anti-US protests in Lahore on 15 October
There is fierce opposition in Pakistan to the US-led air strikes
"Former King Zahir Shah, political leaders, moderate Taleban leaders, elements from the (opposition) Northern Alliance, tribal elders, Afghans living outside their country ... all can play a role in this government," General Musharraf said.

But he warned that no warring faction should take advantage of the US raids to try to impose themselves on Afghanistan - an indirect reference to the opposition Northern Alliance which Pakistan wants excluded from any major role in an Afghan government.

The Northern Alliance's Defence Minister, General Fahim, has said his forces may take the key city of Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taleban on Tuesday evening.

But the BBC Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clark says claims of Alliance victories along the road to Mazar have to be treated with as much caution as Taleban denials.

Support

In his comments, Mr Powell paid tribute to what he called the bold and courageous stance of Pakistan in the campaign against terrorism, and promised US support to strengthen Pakistan's economy.

The BBC's State Department correspondent, Jon Leyne, says General Musharraf gave Mr Powell exactly the support the Americans were looking for.

On the subject of Kashmir, Mr Powell said: "We discussed ways to promote stability in South Asia, which as you all know is a critically important part of the world."

"We too believe that the Kashmir issue is central to the relationship and can be resolved if all parties engaged with a willingness to address their concerns in mutually acceptable ways."

In a sign of the fierce opposition among ordinary Pakistanis to America's military action against Afghanistan, thousands of shopkeepers staged a strike in protest at Mr Powell's visit - his first abroad since the attacks on 11 September.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
"General Musharraf has given strong practical support for air strikes"
General Qureshi, President Musharraf's spokesman
"One wants to limit the amount of destruction that may be caused"
Hardeep Puri, Indian Deputy High Commissioner
"India is looking for a stable Pakistan"
See also:

16 Oct 01 | South Asia
Pakistan cleric charged with treason
16 Oct 01 | South Asia
India launches Kashmir attack
16 Oct 01 | South Asia
US jets hammer Kabul
14 Oct 01 | South Asia
Anti-US protests erupt in Pakistan
25 Sep 01 | South Asia
The wild border town of Quetta
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Pakistan's fault lines
23 May 01 | South Asia
Q & A: Kashmir dispute
03 Oct 01 | South Asia
Kashmir separatists targeted
15 Oct 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan: Troubled relations
15 Oct 01 | South Asia
What next for Afghanistan?
16 Oct 01 | South Asia
India issues Kashmir warning
16 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghan opposition 'to take key city'
16 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: US-Saudi friction grows
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