Haqqani network a key source of Af-Pak friction: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The presence of the Haqqani network, operating from their safe havens in Pakistan, is a key source of friction between Kabul and Islamabad, a senior Obama administration official said Wednesday.
This is the message that was conveyed by the Obama administration when National Security Advisor Susan Rice met top Pakistani leadership, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif in Islamabad over the weekend, according to the official.
“Ambassador Rice was clear that Pakistan needs to do more to confront the Haqqanis and other similar groups. These are groups that have not only taken Afghan lives, also those of coalition forces including Americans, something we deeply care about and came up in discussion,” he told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The growing Af-Pak tension because of the continued safe havens inside Pakistan in particular that of the Haqqani networks was one of the key issues for discussions between Rice and Pakistani leaders, the official; said.
“It is a primary concern to us and especially with the uptick of violence in Kabul, this is certainly a priority for us to see that Pakistan takes a very aggressive approach in dealing with the Haqqani network and other actors,” the official said requesting anonymity.
“Ambassador Rice noted that terrorist and other militant acts continue to emanate from Pakistani soil and that has developed into a key source of regional friction – between Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and India,” the official said.
“So addressing this challenge of safe havens that some militant groups have on Pakistani soil will be an imperative for Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors and with the United States. As you know, some of these actors have made it a point of targeting US and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” the official noted, adding that this would be one of the major topics of discussion when Nawaz Sharif travels to Washington for a meeting with the US President, Barack Obama, at the White House on October 22.
During the meeting Rice urged Pakistan to bring the Taliban on the table for talks. “Ambassador Rice extended her gratitude to Pakistan for its effort in that process,” the official said adding that she reiterated the need for Pakistan to work constructively to take benefit of the death of Mullah Omar and the Taliban transition. “The group is in more disarray than we have seen previously. So there is an opportunity. They discussed ways that Pakistan in coordination with Kabul could further support that Afghan-led reconciliation,” the official said.
“She underscored that Pakistan is a critical partner when it comes to the fight against violent extremists. This is an alliance which we have strengthened over the past few years,” the official said.
Rice noted that the US and Pakistan has worked together to decimate Al Qaeda and the reduced the threat from Pakistan Taliban and it is now time to act against Haqqani network and other militant organizations.
“In the context of drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, she reassured Pakistan that the United States has no intention of abandoning the region. Even as we draw down forces in Afghanistan, our commitment to the region would be enduring,” the official said.
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