Pakistan should do more against Haqqanis: Gen. Votel
“We have been encouraged by Pakistani statements that they intend to target all militants on their soil,” said General Joseph L Votel, nominee for the Commander of US Central Command.
Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing, he said some militants, particularly Al Qaeda and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), offered cause for concern.
“We remain concerned about the continuing threat to our forces in Afghanistan posed by the Haqqani Network. We continue to urge Pakistan at the highest levels to take deliberate action against this group,” Votel added.
Pakistan had a way of communicating with the Haqqani network and a way of highlighting to them the disruptive role they were playing in Afghanistan, the general said.
He asked Pakistan to look at conducting security operations to keep them from coming across the border and having an impact in Afghanistan.
Votel believed Pakistan’s involvement in the peace process was critical, as Islamabad continued to support ongoing reconciliation efforts and desired an enduring relationship with Kabul.
“Stronger ties between the two nations would help reinforce efforts for peace and development in the region. Terrorism is a common enemy of both countries that need to work together to counter it. A negotiated peace is the most viable option to establish lasting stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
China has asserted its commitment to the nascent peace process as a member of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG). The Afghans hope China will exert greater influence on Pakistan.
The insurgency’s capacity and capability was largely unchanged, the commander said, adding small pockets of core Al Qaeda (Arabs who served with the group to 9/11) remained anchored in the Af-Pak region.
“Although likely numbering less than 50 individuals, these remaining AQ members are committed to plotting against the US homeland and Western regional interests. The group has … reduced its operational tempo, choosing to focus on self-preservation,” Votel observed.
He said Al Qaeda was optimistic of outlasting counterterrorism pressure and reemergingafter a US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.