Pakistan main threat to Afghanistan: US senator
"The nearly 30 million people of Afghanistan are victimised by a number of terrorist groups beyond just the Taliban, like the HIG, ETIM and a new threat, the Haqqanis," Illinois Senator Mark Kirk said.
Kirk, who recently served two-weeks in Afghanistan as Naval Reserve Intelligence Commander, said on Friday the Afghans were most victimised by their neighbors, the Pakistanis.
"I first served as a reservist in Afghanistan in 2008. I believed that Pakistan was complicated, that we have many interests there and that we must advance diplomatically. I no longer agree with that," he added.
Pakistan had become the main threat to Afghanistan and its intelligence service was the biggest danger to the Afghan government, he alleged. "Let me be clear: many Americans died in Afghanistan because of Pakistan's ISI."
"Sitting in our commander's briefs for two weeks, talking to our headquarters' leaders and spending a few days in the field, it became clear to me that if we worked in Afghanistan alone, we would quickly turn the country around, restoring it to its status as an agricultural economy with a loose government and high degree of autonomy given to each tribe and region," Kirk suggested.
The Illinois senator said the Haqqani network was the new face of terrorism in the region. Built around its founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, and his son Siraj Haqqani, the network has become the most dangerous, lethal and cancerous force in Afghanistan, he remarked.
Although Pakistani officials claim otherwise, the Haqqanis are backed and protected by the ISI, he claimed. Statements by Pakistani government officials to the contrary were direct lies, he insisted.
"The Haqqani network kills Americans, attacks the elected government of Afghanistan and remains protected in its Pakistani headquarters of Miranshah. Without that Pakistani safe haven, it would suffer the same fate as Al Qaeda," he believed.
Afghan and US Special operation teams take out many Taliban commanders and operators each night but numerous key Haqqani leaders spend all day planning attacks on Americans in Afghanistan -- then sleep soundly in their beds in Pakistan, he said.
"In such an environment, and with our deficits and debt, aid to Pakistan seems naive at best and counterproductive at worst. I am seriously reconsidering and rethinking how well aid to Pakistan served us," Kirk concluded.
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