US presses Pakistan to act against militants
ISLAMABAD (PAN): With its central role in regional security, Pakistan should move against Afghan militants and target Taliban safe havens on its soil, the visiting US Secretary of State said on Friday.
Insurgents on both sides of the Durand Line should be targeted in order to rid the region of terrorism, Hillary Clinton told a news conference in Islamabad after meetings with senior Pakistani leaders.
The US respected the sovereignty of Pakistan, which had an essential role to play in regional security, she said, adding the rebels had long been operating from their sanctuaries in the nuclear-capable South Asian country.
She remarked: "Pakistan has a critical role to play in supporting Afghan reconciliation and ending the conflict. We look to Pakistan to take strong steps to deny Afghan insurgents safe havens and to encourage the Taliban to enter negotiations in good faith."
For her part, Clinton's Pakistani counterpart called for resolving the current mismatch of perceptions between the allies, who have been exchanging barbs over the Haqqani network's bases in the Waziristan tribal region.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated Pakistan's support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process with militants. She said the two sides had held talks on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.
While acknowledging that militant safe havens existed on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistan frontier, Khar underlined the need to overcome the trust deficit between Washington and Islamabad. "Yes, safe havens do exist on both sides. Do we need to cooperate? Yes, we can cooperate more to achieve better results."
However, she took great pains to repudiate allegations that the Pakistani establishment backed some guerrilla outfits. "There is no question of any support by any Pakistani institution for rebel hideouts in Pakistan," she insisted.
Earlier in the day, Clinton met with President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Khar. The Pakistani leaders said they had a vested interest in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, renewing support for an Afghan-led reconciliation campaign.
On Thursday night, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani urged Clinton to give peace a fair chance as envisaged in an All Parties' Conference (APC) resolution, which reflected the Pakistani nation's sentiments.
Gilani's office said the talks were held in a cordial and frank atmosphere, with the prime minister explaining Pakistan's view on the issue of peace in Afghanistan. He said disagreements between the coalition partners in the war on terror should not weaken their strategic relationship.
The allies should complement each other to counter terrorism, Gilani suggested, saying the Pakistan-US relationship should go beyond terrorism.
"I have due respect for Prime Minister Gilani and his country," said Clinton, who recognised the importance of Pakistan in the context of peace and security in the region.
Foreign Minister Khar, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asfhaq Parvez Kayani and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha assisted Gilani at the meeting.
Clinton was joined by CIA Director Gen. David Patraeus, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.