Pakistan safe havens a concern: US Senator
“The sustainability of the Afghan forces and the police forces continue to be a concern. And probably one of the biggest concerns we heard has to do with the safe havens that continue in Pakistan and the obstacle they provide to the progress that we're making in Afghanistan,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen told reporters during a conference call from an undisclosed destination in Afghanistan.
“It’s important for us to look at how we can do more to pressure Pakistan to address those safe havens across the border,” the Senator said. She said she had heard the issue raised again and again during her meetings with Afghan government and military officials.
“We heard it from Afghan Defense Minister Wardak. We heard it from President Karzai. And we certainly heard it from the military leaders that we met with, that this was a concern because it gives those insurgents who are coming across the border a place to go so that they can go back across the border and operate with impunity,” Shaheen said.
The Senator said the relationship between US and Pakistan is at a low ebb, but that the US could not sever ties with the nuclear armed country.
“They have, at times, cooperated very well with us. And, as I said, post the raid that took out Osama bin Laden, we've seen a deterioration in that relationship. But this is a country that's going to continue to border Afghanistan. It's in a critical strategic location in this region, serving as the nexus between the Middle East and the Far East,” she said.
“Pakistan has one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world. We need to be very thoughtful in our approach to Pakistan. And I don't think we can walk away,” Shaheen said.
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