April 14, 2009 / 1:27 PM / 11 years ago

Afghanistan fears Swat deal may harm its security

A tourist guide takes a break during a trek in Pakistan's Swat Valley, near the town of Kalam July 14, 2002. REUTERS/Simon Denyer

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan said Tuesday it was concerned its own security could be hurt by a deal between Pakistan and Taliban guerrillas to impose Islamic law on a Pakistani valley.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari signed a regulation on Monday imposing sharia on Swat, a picturesque valley in northwest Pakistan, as part of a deal to end violence from the strict Islamist guerrillas.

But Afghanistan, fighting its own insurgency against the Taliban, has long worried that success by the Taliban in Pakistan could embolden the militants on both sides of the border.

“Since any deal with terrorist groups can have effects on the security of our own country and people, we ask the country of Pakistan to take into consideration the issue of security and its side-effects on relations between the two countries,” Afghan presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada told a news briefing.

The strict Islamist Taliban, with roots in ethnic Pashtun tribes that straddle the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, have been waging insurgencies in both countries.

Afghanistan has in the past accused Pakistani security forces of tacitly supporting militants who infiltrate across the border into Afghanistan, an accusation that has soured ties between the two key allies of Washington.

Afghanistan has seen a surge of attacks by Taliban in recent years, the bloodiest period since U.S.-backed Afghan forces drove the militants from Kabul in 2001. It has repeatedly said that most of the attacks are organized in Pakistan where the Taliban have havens in lawless tribal areas close to the Afghan border.

Meanwhile, Taliban influence has been spreading through the northwest of Pakistan, reviving concerns about the stability of the nuclear-armed state.

Pakistani authorities accepted an Islamist demand for sharia in Swat to end more than a year of fighting, but critics said appeasement would only embolden the militants.

Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Alex Richardson

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