Rebel safe havens challenge to transition: Lipper
WASHINGTON (PAN): Insurgent safe havens inside Pakistan and Afghan capacity in the governance and development areas remain the most challenging aspects of security transition in Afghanistan, a US official said.
Nominated by President Barack Obama to guide the policy of the Department of Defence in the Asia-Pacific region, Mark Lippert told US lawmakers the limited capacity of the Afghan government to manage development programmes and fill government positions at the national and sub-national levels hindered the ability to assume leadership on these lines of operation.
Efforts in these areas must underpin the success of the security transition in order to achieve durable stability in Afghanistan, said Lippert in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
Militant sanctuaries inside Pakistan threatened security in Afghanistan, he added, explaining: “The ability of violent extremist groups to find support and safe haven in Pakistan poses a significant threat to US forces, the NATO mission and the long-term stability of Afghanistan.”
It was Pakistan’s responsibility to prevent attacks from its territory on others, including Afghanistan and NATO-led forces there, he remarked. "If Pakistan does not address these threats, the United States will have to consider a range of options, but it is best when we have Pakistan’s cooperation.”
Responding to questions, Lippert said in his assessment the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), in partnership with US and NATO troops, had made enormous progress in size and quality over the past two years and remained ahead of schedule for their growth targets this year.
In addition, both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) have made significant gains in effectiveness and professionalism. The establishment of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program has also fostered greater local capability to resist insurgents. However, real challenges remain, such as stemming attrition rates, he noted.
Observing that Pakistan should play a constructive role in the effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, Lippert said he supports the Afghan Government’s efforts to reconcile with groups who agree to cut ties with al-Qa’ida, cease violence, and accept the Afghan Constitution.
“There is a steady entry of reintegration candidates (now more than 2,700) into the program, and I believe the program has inspired informal reintegration as well. The international community should continue its support for program implementers and for the Afghan interagency cooperation necessary to reintegrate these former fighters in a timely way,” he responded to a query.
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