KABUL: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded on Thursday that Pakistan dismantle Taliban safe havens in a major push for Islamabad to take action in its tribal areas, while simultaneously expounding on the need for Pakistan to play a “constructive” role in bringing militants to negotiations aimed at ending the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
But many policy makers in Islamabad see a twin US approach of pressing the fight on the battlefield and pursuing reconciliation efforts behind the scenes as contradictory, arguing that Pakistan cannot make any further sacrifices.Clinton’s remarks came as the American troops pressed a major offensive along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.The top US diplomat spoke in unusually strong language following talks in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. She warned the Taliban to be part of a peaceful future or face “unrelenting” assault, but urged Islamabad to play a “constructive” role in bringing militants to the negotiation table.
Clinton arrived in Pakistan on Thursday, where she is to be joined by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief David Petraeus and top US military officer Martin Dempsey.“And now it’s a question as to how much cooperation Pakistanis will provide in going after those safe havens,” she said. “We intend to push the Pakistanis very hard as to what they are willing and able to do with us… to remove the safe havens and the continuing threats across the border to Afghans,” said Clinton.
OPERATION: She warned militants that “we are going to seek you in your safe havens” on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border and confirmed a US operation against the hardline Haqqani network it blames for some of the worst war attacks. “There was a major military operation inside Afghanistan in recent days that has been rounding up and eliminating Haqqani operatives on this side of the border,” Clinton told reporters in a leafy plaza of Karzai’s palace.
Clinton confirmed that the United States believed the Haqqani network operated out of a “safe haven in Pakistan”. US commanders say the Haqqanis are their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. It is an Afghan Taliban faction, loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Clinton said her talks in Pakistan will focus on “how to increase pressure on the safe havens there” while at the same time urging Pakistan to support efforts at negotiations. “We believe that they can play either a constructive or a destructive role in helping to bring into talks those with whom the Afghans themselves must sit across the table and hammer out a negotiated settlement,” she said.
“We will be looking to the Pakistanis to take the lead because the terrorists operating outside of Pakistan pose a threat to Pakistanis, as well as to Afghans and others,” she added.KARZAI: Karzai spoke of “shifting the focus” of the peace effort to Pakistan. The Afghan president said Afghanistan believed the Taliban “to a very very great extent is controlled by establishments in Pakistan”. “The proper authority we firmly believe is in Pakistan and the venue therefore should be in Pakistan – PT