Islamabad: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday said that Pakistan and Afghanistan need to act "aggressively and effectively" to root out terrorists and their sanctuaries in both countries to ensure peace in the region.

"The facts are so bare, the wound is so clear and hurting that it now requires both of us to work diligently and extremely aggressively and effectively to curb terrorism and radicalism in this region," Karzai told a news conference he addressed jointly with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Karzai was responding to a question on reports that Afghan Taliban militants had recently sneaked into Pakistan to carry out two attacks on security forces.

If any evidence is found that the militants had come from Afghanistan, "it is the responsibility of the Afghan government to take action to stop them", he said.

“At the same time, it is the responsibility of Pakistan to do the same with regard to militants crossing into Afghanistan", he said.

“The reported attacks on Pakistani security forces by hundreds of Afghan militants are a worrying sign and a reason for both sides to work harder to remove radicals from both countries and remove sanctuaries wherever they may occur", Karzai said.

"This is a reminder to us that things have gone beyond tolerance and are really deeply hurting both nations' security and well-being," he added.

The two leaders addressed the media after the inaugural meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace that was formed to boost efforts to rope in the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups in the peace process in the war-torn country.

However, both Karzai and Gilani evaded questions on whether they had discussed involving the powerful Haqqani network, a militant faction based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region and is seen by the US as being opposed to the peace process in Afghanistan.

Gilani merely said in response to a query on the Haqqani network that Pakistan was ready to do ‘whatever is in our capacity’ to assist an Afghan-led reconciliation process.

Referring to US plans to begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan from next month, Karzai said that his country had a transition plan whereby the drawdown of American forces is completed by 2014 and Afghan forces take "full responsibility
for the protection of the people and territory".

During the meeting of the Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace both sides agreed to intensify cooperation between their intelligence agencies and militaries and to hold separate military and intelligence meetings whenever required.

"The two sides affirmed their resolve to work closely together for reconciliation and peace, in holistic and comprehensive manner," an official statement said.

Besides Karzai and Gilani, the meeting was attended by  Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul, Afghan Army chief Gen Karimi, National Directorate of Security chief Rehmatullah Nabeel, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

The two sides also issued the Islamabad Declaration which expressed their satisfaction on the signing and ratification of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and the successful finalization of modalities and the mechanism for its implementation.

The pact will be made operation from June 12 and the two sides said they would take all necessary steps to ensure that the agreement contributes to the growth of trade.

Jun 11 (PTI)