Rebel safe havens continue to exist in Pakistan: Pentagon
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its Afghan partners had made important security gains, reversing violence in much of the country and beginning transition to Afghan security lead, the Pentagon said in a report to the Congress.
Continued military pressure allowed joint ISAF and Afghan forces to maintain and expand the security gains made during the previous year, disrupting insurgent safe havens and command and control structures, said the 138-page six-monthly report.
"Although security continues to improve, the insurgency's safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan," the report added.
The insurgency remains resilient, benefitting from safe havens inside Pakistan, with a notable operational capacity, as reflected in isolated high-profile attacks and elevated violence levels in eastern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.
Nevertheless, sustained progress has provided increased security and stability for the Afghan population and enabled the beginning of transition in July of security responsibilities to Afghan forces in seven areas.
The Pentagon said Pakistan continued to seek a friendly government in Afghanistan, with limited Indian influence, and a political settlement that enabled Pashtun power-brokers to participate in provincial and national government.
"Pakistan's plan for Afghanistan continues to evolve, and some senior Pakistani officials may question whether their preferred outcome in Afghanistan is possible. Therefore, Pakistan continues to tolerate and abet the insurgency in Afghanistan, particularly the Haqqani Network."
Recent meetings between senior Pakistani and Afghan officials continued to seek common ground for cooperation in advance of an ultimate US drawdown in Afghanistan, the report said, but mistrust, long-standing tensions and divergent strategic interests would continue to make genuine cooperation difficult.
"Pakistan has long judged that the United States would withdraw from Afghanistan before achieving political stability, leaving Pakistan with either an unstable Afghanistan or an Indian "proxy" on its borders. Nor does Islamabad see a sustained US presence in Afghanistan as a preferable alternative over the long term," it said.
As a result, Pakistan sought to play a dominant role in the peace and reconciliation process, said the Pentagon. Early trends suggest that Pakistan is not prepared to deliver on the expectations established in bilateral and multilateral discussions on reconciliation.
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