Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pakistan will suffer “dire consequences” if it fails to “contain” terrorists operating from its soil, and it needs the US and Afghanistan to help get the job done.
The Obama administration isn’t asking Pakistan’s military to occupy its rugged border regions, the base for extremist groups that attack US, allied and Afghan forces on the other side, Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg News posted on its website on Monday.There are “different ways of fighting besides overt military action,” she said.
Clinton said she pressed Pakistan to fully share intelligence with US forces in Afghanistan to prevent attacks and choke off money and supply routes. Better coordination might prevent incidents like the Sept 20 assault on the American Embassy in Kabul, which the US blames on the Haqqani network, she said.
“We can go after funding. We can go after couriers,’’ she said she told Pakistani leaders.Already strained ties with Pakistan were exacerbated by the US commando assault in May that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near Islamabad. Clinton, along with CIA Director David Petraeus and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army Chief of Staff, and Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Clinton praised recent cooperation against al-Qaeda as a model for how to crack down on the Haqqanis as well as the Taliban, based in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta.
“Because of intelligence sharing and mutual cooperation, we have targeted three of the top al-Qaeda operatives since bin Laden’s death. That could not have happened without Pakistani cooperation,” she said.Pakistan’s political parties came together last month behind a resolution to seek talks and a ceasefire with insurgents rather than an all-out military assault.
Prime Minister Gilani urged the Americans “to give peace a chance” before pressing his military for more, he said in a statement.Clinton said the US message to Pakistan was that the same insurgents who have launched lethal attacks against US and Afghan targets may unleash their violence inside Pakistan.
Clinton said she urged Pakistan’s leaders to take advantage of the roughly 130,000-troop, US-led Nato force next door in Afghanistan while it’s still there. The US and Nato have begun pulling out troops and plan to hand full security control to Afghanistan’s government by the end of 2014.In the coming months, forces from Pakistan and the coalition in Afghanistan should “squeeze” the Taliban and allied extremists, such as the Haqqani network, which operate on both sides of the border.
“There’s no way that any government in Islamabad can control these groups,” Clinton said in an interview, conducted in Tajikistan as she wrapped up a seven-nation trip across the Mideast and south-central Asia.There is an “opportunity, while we are still with 48 nations across the border in Afghanistan, where we have a lot of assets that we can put at their disposal” to help Pakistan.
The Pakistanis said they “have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t cause chaos” in their country, she recounted. She said the US and Pakistan agreed on “90 to 95 percent of what needs to be done” and the two countries will work on what “next steps we take together.”US and Afghan troops have recently begun what they call “enhanced operations” against guerrillas in Afghanistan’s Khost province, which abuts the Pakistani region where the Haqqani network is based.
Asked if US troops in Afghanistan will launch cross-border attacks if Pakistan fails to act, Clinton replied, “There’s a lot going on that is aimed at these safe havens, and we will continue to work with them on that.”Clinton also defended US efforts to encourage the Afghans and Pakistanis to seek negotiations to disarm militants. Reconciliation efforts have gone nowhere since Clinton announced the Obama administration’s support for talks early last year.Negotiations are “a bumpy process” requiring “patience and persistence that we’re willing to invest, in order to determine what’s real and what’s not,” she said. – Nation