Breaking news -

0 U.S. Sends Envoy to Pakistan After Tensions Over Tackling Militant Groups

The U.S. sent its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to the region as politicians in Islamabad rejected U.S. allegations their country is aiding guerrilla attacks in Afghanistan.

Marc Grossman left yesterday on a tour that will also include India, China and Central Asia in preparation for a conference on Afghanistan in Turkey in November, the State Department said in Washington, without providing a detailed itinerary. NATO said today that a combined Afghan and coalition security force captured a “senior” Haqqani leader last month.
“Job one between the U.S. and Pakistan on the counterterrorism front is to tackle the Haqqani network,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier yesterday at a briefing in Washington. “We’ve got to find a way to work on this together.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hosted political parties, including Islamic opposition groups, in Islamabad two days ago in a show of unity after U.S. charges that Pakistan-based insurgents struck American targets in the Afghan capital, Kabul, last month. Lawmakers called on Gilani’s government to renew peace efforts with militants in Pakistan’s regions bordering Afghanistan.
“What’s important in this case is that we continue to have very clear and candid conversations among all of the principals with their Pakistani interlocutors,” Nuland said, according to a State Department transcript. “Ambassador Grossman is on his way to the region to continue those conversations.”

Haqqani Commander Detained

According to NATO, Haji Mali Khan was detained during a security operation in Jani Khel district, Paktiya province, on Sept. 27. Khan is “the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan” and the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani, the statement said. He was responsible for managing bases and oversight of operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, it said.
Admiral Mike Mullen, who retired Sept. 29 as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week said the Haqqani Taliban faction, which the U.S. blamed for a strike on its Afghan embassy, “acts as a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate. Pakistani government leaders said the claims “are without substance and derogatory.”

Tougher Policies

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sept. 15 that the U.S. won’t allow further strikes on its forces by the Haqqani group, which is based largely in Pakistan’s border district of North Waziristan. Some congressional leaders have urged tougher policies, with Republican Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham saying the U.S. may have to consider a military response.
The Pakistani politicians in their resolution, which isn’t binding on the government, called on Gilani to seek talks with Pakistani militants in the country’s tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, who have been targeted by army offensives for more than two years.
Earlier negotiations to convince militants to end violence have failed. The army began campaigns in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley in 2009 to weaken the Pakistani Taliban. The group had aligned itself with al-Qaeda and carried out suicide bombings and commando-style gun attacks, killing thousands of Pakistani civilians and members of the security forces.

No Progress

Grossman will also visit Kabul after the Afghan government yesterday said it may suspend its efforts to work with Pakistan on a process to end the war in Afghanistan because no progress has been made.
Afghanistan may work more closely with the U.S., Europe and India instead of trying to negotiate with Taliban groups based in Pakistan, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement issued by his office.
The Afghan statement said Karzai met with government and security officials to assess Afghan policy after a suicide bomber killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the government’s High Peace Council, on Sept. 20.
“In spite of three years of negotiations and efforts to make peace and good relations with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has not taken any steps to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries or prevent Taliban military training and armament on its soil,” the statement from Karzai’s office said.
Karzai told Kabul-based Noor TV that he will send investigators to Pakistan to seek the killers of Rabbani. The envoy’s colleagues on the peace council and Afghanistan’s intelligence service say the suicide bomber came from the area of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province in southwestern Pakistan where Taliban leaders fled after being overthrown by U.S.-led forces in 2001.
Talks involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. have been “useful,” Nuland said yesterday in Washington. Grossman will discuss the value of the process and “see where we go” with officials in Kabul and Islamabad, she said.
“We continue to think it’s an important structure,” Nuland added. 

No comments: