Hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani political and tribal leaders have begun a conference in Kabul that aims to find ways of fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Known locally as a ‘jirga’, such meetings are traditionally held to resolve disputes, with both sides represented. Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened the assembly, but his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf was replaced by Prime Minister Shaukut Aziz. Musharraf was meeting senior aides, one of whom has ruled out the prospect of a state of emergency being declared in Pakistan.Taliban leaders had boycotted the event, saying it was set up by Washington.
But Karzai remained upbeat, saying there was no doubt the jirga would succeed. In opening the session, he criticised the taking of 16 female hostages by the Taliban, and told those gathered that the two countries could beat extremeism if they worked together.