Militants enjoy sanctuaries in Pakistan: Gen. Nicholson
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The Taliban and the Haqqani network continued to enjoy sanctuaries inside Pakistan, posing a major challenge to both American and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan, a top American general told lawmakers on Thursday.
“This (safe havens) has been one of the principal challenges. It’s a sanctuary that our enemies, in particular the Haqqani network, have enjoyed inside Pakistan,” Gen John "Mick" Nicholson told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
A day earlier US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter nominated Gen Nicholson to replace Gen John Campbell as the Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“I view it (terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan) as a serious problem,” Nicholson said when Senator Joh McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked him about the status of terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan.
“Have you seen any progress in this whole problem with sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan? And how serious do you view that problem as it is today?” McCain asked.
Nicholson said the US was not satisfied that there was adequate pressure put on the Haqqani network. The recent operations in Northern Waziristan have helped, as well as stationing of additional soldiers in tribal areas have helped.
“Some of this has pushed some fighters into Afghanistan, which has contributed, perhaps, somewhat to ..for example, in Nangahar, some of the issues there,” he said.
“So, it’s a mixed story, and it’s one that requires continuous engagement by the Pakistan military, and with General Raheel Sharif and continuous engagement at the operational and tactical level. And then, increasingly, we want to encourage the Afghans and the Pakistan military forces to work more closely together against their common enemies,” Nicholson said.
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