NATO requires Pakistan’s role to deal with Haqqanis
WASHINGTON (PAN): Noting the Haqqani network poses a threat to the NATO forces in Afghanistan, a top alliance official stressed the need of having a positive engagement with Pakistan to address the issue.
NATO Secretary-General Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels ahead of the Defense Ministers meeting that the issue of Haqqani network was a matter of common concern, adding they required a positive partnership with Pakistan to address the issue.
It was obvious that there was a cross border traffic that made it possible for the Haqqani group and probably also other terrorist networks to operate in Afghanistan and then go back to their safe havens in Pakistan, constituting a clear threat to NATO troops and to the Afghan people, he said.
Afghanistan would be one of the major topics of discussion during the NATO ministerial meeting later this week.
Rasmussen added alliance’s defence ministers would also meet with their International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners to discuss progress in Afghanistan because there had been significant progress since their last meeting.
Transition was fully on track, and they would not let the insurgents derail it, he said, explaining Afghan forces were already providing lead security for a quarter of the population.
He expected the next stage of transition, scheduled to be announced soon, would be substantial, reasoning that at the same time, their military officials assessed the insurgency had been weakened downright.
“Of course the levels of violence are of concern. A number of spectacular attacks have captured the headlines recently and created the perception that security incidents are on the rise. However, our commanders are confident that security incidents initiated by insurgent groups are lower than last year,” he acknowledged.
He also noted a specific case about a year ago, when they were talking about the security situation in southern Helmand province. That was a focus of their efforts and they had said that time that things would get worse before they got better.
“Now we are seeing the results of our efforts. Attacks since June are significantly lower than last year. In fact, some districts in Helmand have seen reductions in violence of nearly 80 percent,” he said, adding that their strategy was working and they should concentrate on the competence of the Afghan Security Forces in dealing with attacks.
“That will remain our focus as we complete transition by the end of 2014, and as we continue to stand with the Afghan people after 2014 because NATO will not abandon the Afghan people. We have agreed an enduring partnership and we will live up to it,” Rasmussen concluded.
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