Pakistan needs to take decisive action against Haqqani network: U.S.

“Pakistan has a way of communicating to the Haqqani, and a way of highlighting to them the disruptive role they are playing in Afghanistan”.

If Pakistan cannot leverage its influence to stop militants of the Haqqani network from crossing into Afghanistan, it should “take decisive action” against the dreaded terror group which is the greatest threat to U.S. forces in the war-torn nation, two top generals said.

“We need Pakistan to take decisive action against the Haqqani Network (HQN). The Pakistanis are uniquely positioned to counter the HQN, which remains the greatest threat to our forces and to stability in Afghanistan long-term,” Commander of U.S. Central Command General Lloyd J Austin told members of the Senate Armed Service Committee at a Congressional hearing.

The U.S. is encouraged by some signs from Kabul and Islamabad that point towards a renewed effort at improving Afghanistan—Pakistan relations, and Pakistani support for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin said on Wednesday.

“The Pakistan military continues to play a visible role in efforts to reduce safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghanistan—Pakistan border, while at the same time actively countering militant groups, including AQ, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and the newly—emerged ISIL—KP,” he said.

Responding to a series of questions on the continuing threat the Haqqani network poses to U.S. forces and to the stability of Afghanistan, General Joseph L Votel, nominee of the Commander of U.S. Central Command, told the committee that “Pakistan has a way of communicating to the Haqqani, and a way of highlighting to them the disruptive role they are playing in Afghanistan”.

“So I think the first thing we need to do is leverage their influence with that particular organisation to prevent them from having those particular facts,” Gen. Votel said at a confirmation hearing.

“If that does not work they must conduct security operations to contain them and keep them from coming across the border and having an impact in Afghanistan,” he said.

He however, defended the U.S.’ decision to continue assistance to Pakistan as “risks of ineffective and unclear signals and conditioning may risk us losing our access and frank dialogue to Pakistan and may reduce Pakistan’s willingness to continue its counter—terrorism and counter— insurgency operations”.

 

This piece originally appeared on The Hindu.

The Afghan Tribune | The Hindu | Published: March 12, 2016, 11:32 PM

 

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