US upset with Pakistan over Haqqanis: Dempsey
WASHINGTON (PAN): Echoing the remarks of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on Thursday expressed frustration over Pakistan’s unwillingness to take strong action against the Haqqani network.
“It is our view that the Haqqani network is as big a threat to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan and to us, but we haven't been able to find common ground on that point. So that's been very frustrating,” Dempsey told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
“We have some interests on which we cooperate almost without question, and then there are other issues where we just have not been able to find common ground. The presence of Afghan Taliban in FATA is one of those areas,” he added.
Dempsey said strong action against the network was essential for the US to be successful in meeting its 2014 timeline of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“So the urgency, I suppose, is increasing for two reasons. One is, we've got to get RC-East (in Afghanistan) and the Haqqani influence reduced in order to meet our timelines for transition that we're moving toward, and at the end of 2014. So that's number one.
“Number two, Haqqanis have become more active. You know, the Haqqani network is directly attributed to the attack last month in Kabul, and Haqqani is attributed to the recent attack on Forward Operating Base Salerno.
“So with that kind of hard intelligence to suggest that the Haqqani network is responsible, they are rising in importance, in our view. And that's, I think, the best way to think about why is this becoming more prominent now,” he continued.
Expressing concern over civilian deaths, Dempsey said the incident in Logar was under investigation. “We became alert to it about 48 hours ago pursuant to a conflict and a troops in contact call. There were some buildings in a particular village that were struck with aerial-delivered fires.”
The NATO-led force was doing its best to avoid civilian casualties, so this investigation would try to determine if there were civilian casualties and then appropriate actions would be taken, Dempsey promised.
The Pentagon commander said Al Qaida leadership had been significantly affected. Most of those whothe US began tracking 10 years ago were no longer part of the group, he claimed.
“They're no longer part of any organization. To that extent we've been very successful. There have, of course, been others that have taken their place,” he said.
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