Clinton wants Pakistan to act against Haqqanis
KABUL (PAN): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during an unannounced visit to Kabul, on Thursday emphasised stepped-up military operations against Haqqani militants on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
With Afghan and NATO-led troops conducting a push against the group in eastern and southern Afghanistan, Pakistan must move to dismantle Haqqani network's safe havens on its side of the Durand Line, she said.
"A major military operation inside Afghanistan is ongoing to kill and capture Haqqani operatives on this side of the border," she told a joint media briefing with President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
Now is the time for Pakistan to cooperate with Afghan and international troops in the fight against insurgents, according to Clinton, who believed the group operates from its sanctuaries in the neighbouring country.
"Our message to Pakistan is clear: We're going to be fighting, we're going to be talking and we're going to be building." she said of the US strategy in Afghanistan. They could either be helping or hindering, she added. "But we are not going to stop."
Before flying into Islamabad in the evening, Clinton delivered a tough warning to Pakistan and said the country must be part of the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. She expected the Pakistani government, armed forces and spy services to encourage Afghan insurgents to join the reconciliation process.
In the Pakistani capital, Clinton will be joined for talks on Friday by CIA director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Urging Kabul and Islamabad to press on with peace talks and announce their common goals, the visiting dignitary acknowledged that a military solution to the problem was not possible. "Together we should try to find a proper way of ending the conflict. Reconciliation represents the best hope for Afghanistan and the region."
Stability in the region would help accelerate the security switch from foreign troops to Afghan forces, she said, hoping the process would be successfully completed by the end of 2014.
For his part, President Hamid Karzai insisted on the destruction of Taliban's safe heavens across the border. "Unless we pay attention to sanctuaries, and unless we go to the proper authority that leads and controls them, we will not be able to have a successful peace drive."
"We believe that Taliban are controlled to a very large extent by the Pakistani establishment; they have their sanctuaries in that country and launch incursions into Afghanistan from there," he alleged.
His government was friendly and cooperative ties to Pakistan, but former president Rabbani's assassination had highlighted the need for dismantling rebel hideouts and choking their funding sources, Karzai added.
Karzai said they conferred on the Afghan-US strategic pact, regional security, the 2nd Bonn Conference, Afghans' expectations and the Istanbul conference. Their discussions would help bring peace to the country, he hoped.
The president said result-oriented talks would be held with Pakistan on how to rid the neighbours of terrorism.
Clinton reiterated the US desire to purge the area of Al Qaeda's influence, saying they had mounted pressure on the Taliban to renounce violence and return to their country. The secretary said Karzai and she had agreed on need for the insurgents to respect women's rights, cut ties to AL Qaeda and recognise Afghanistan's constitution.
Earlier in the day, Clinton met with Afghan women's rights activists at the US embassy in Kabul, urging the continuation of the progress achieved in the war-hit country over the past 10 years.
Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission head, Seema Samar, Kabul University Chancellor Prof. Hamidullah Amin and a number of representatives of civil society organisations called on her.
"What you want in the future, unity among neighbouring countries is vital to continuation of the progress achieved so far. To me, it is an important matter," she told her interlocutors. Clinton said the Obama administration was paying due heed to the concerns of Afghan women's rights activists, academics and politicians.
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