Pakistan rejects Afghan accusations over Taleban war

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan on Wednesday "categorically rejected" remarks from the Afghan army chief alleging that it could end the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan within weeks if it was really committed to peace.

"The allegations that Pakistan 'controls' the Taleban and has 'unleashed' them on Afghanistan have no basis. We reject them categorically," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Afghan army chief of staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi said in an interview broadcast by the BBC that Pakistan could end the Afghan war "in weeks" if it were serious about peace.

His remarks, following months of public spats between Kabul and Islamabad, highlight the deep distrust between the two governments as US-led troops wind down more than a decade of war against Taleban and other insurgents.

Pakistan was a key backer of the 1996-2001 Taleban regime in Kabul and is believed to shelter some of the movement's top leaders.

The West believes Pakistani support is vital to securing any workable peace deal in Afghanistan and officials have recently praised Islamabad for helping to support peace efforts.

"Pakistan has exercised extreme restraint in the face of highly provocative language used by the Afghan civil and military officials over the last few months, not to mention some totally fabricated accusations,"Islamabad said.

Pakistan said it would not be deterred in its efforts to support international efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and accused elements in the Afghan government of insincerity.

"We would, however, hope that the Afghan officials would refrain from levelling baseless allegations and work towards creating a conducive environment that helps advance the shared objectives of peace, stability and prosperity," it said.

Gen Karimi accused Pakistan of closing down madrassa schools that serve as incubators of Islamist extremism and as a result had "unleashed" the Taleban on Afghanistan today.

He said "the Taleban are under their control" and Pakistan could do far more to promote a nascent peace process.