Washington: Pakistan should not provide “sanctuary” to the dreaded Haqqani network, the top commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan today said as he asked Islamabad to take more steps against the Taliban-affiliated group which is the “most virulent strain” of the insurgency.
“Based in, and operating from Pakistan, Haqqani network remains the most virulent strain of the insurgency. It presents one of the greatest risks to Coalition forces, and it continues to be an al-Qaeda facilitator,” said General John Campbell, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Haqqani network shares the Taliban goal of expelling Coalition forces, overthrowing the Afghan government, and re-establishing an extremist state, he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on the situation in Afghanistan.
“What I have stressed to Pakistan and I think at all levels of our government, from DOD (Department of Defence) all the way to the White House, continue to express to Pakistan that they have to do more to get Pakistan – to not provide sanctuary to Haqqani inside of Pakistan,” Campbell said.
“So we’ve got to continue to keep the pressure on and make sure that Afghanistan – make sure that Pakistan understands that there is a common enemy here that Afghanistan and Pakistan should work together and terrorism knows no boundaries. So they have to work at that together,” the top general said in response to a question.
Campbell added that the Haqqani network fighters lead the insurgency in several eastern Afghan provinces, and they have demonstrated the intent and capability to launch and support high-profile and complex attacks against the Coalition.
He asked Pakistan to take stronger action against the Haqqani network – blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including the Indian embassy bombing and the attack on Kabul Serena Hotel in 2008 – and its safe havens inside its territory.
Campbell said Haqqani continues to be a big threat, not only against the coalition but also the Afghan people.
“Haqqani are the ones that are traditionally responsible for the high-profile attacks, the VBIEDs, the vehicle-borne IEDs, the suicide vests. Haqqani are the ones that attack innocent civilians,” he said.
Campbell said so far as reconciliation and Pakistan’s role is concerned, Afghanistan has said that this has to be Afghan-led.
“On reconciliation, I think Pakistan understands that,” he said, adding that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the leadership inside of Pakistan have talked several times about reconciliation, moving forward.
“I think both President Ghani and Pakistan understand there has to be some sort of political resolution to this fight,” he said.
Senator John McCain said Pakistan is waiting for a US decision, while hedging its bets with individuals and groups that are hostile to the American interests.
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