ASPEN COLORADO/WASHINGTON: The US government has urged Pakistan on Friday to prevent displaced Haqqani Network militants from returning to their traditional sanctuary after a military offensive in North Waziristan Agency.
The Haqqani Network, which mainly operates out of Pakistan’s border areas, has been blamed for some of the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks on NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
“What we’ve asked for is that the Haqqanis, yes they have been displaced, yes they have been disrupted, but that they not be allowed to regroup and resettle back into those historical areas,” Jeffrey Eggers, who is senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at White House’s National Security Council (NSC), said while speaking at a security forum in Colorado.
Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, Jalil Abbas Jilani, sitting alongside Eggers and others at the event, acknowledged that Haqqani fighters almost certainly fled the region ahead of the military operation because it was pre-announced.
But Jilani also urged more to be done across the border in Afghanistan to deal with any militants who may have fled there.
“We are having good cooperation but I think something more is required to be done in order to make sure that the successes ... are conclusive,” Jilani said.
Afghanistan’s envoy to Washington, Eklil Hakimi, said his information suggested that Haqqani militants had safe passage inside Pakistan and were going elsewhere inside Pakistan.
John Allen, the retired four-star general, who led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, voiced scepticism about Islamabad’s past willingness to go after the Haqqanis.
“When I was commander there, the Haqqanis killed or wounded over 500 of my troops. And the operations in Waziristan somehow missed them every time they conducted operations on the eastern side of the border,” Allen said.
US lawmakers warn that Pakistan will have to crackdown on the Haqqanis or lose millions in US military aid.
“What matters now is how this continues and whether or not the Haqqanis are afforded a sanctuary to return to when the operation gets into its terminal phase,” Eggers added.
According to APP, Ambassador Jilani has emphasised that Pakistan’s ongoing operation in North Waziristan is absolutely targeting all militants but it needs to be complemented by actions on the Afghan side to make it conclusive.
“While the hammer is in full swing, we only hope that the anvil we have been talking about for a long time that would also appear one day, because our apprehension is that many of these elements, they are on the run, some of them may have gone to Afghanistan, the people belonging to the Haqqani Network,” Ambassador Jilani said, adding that Pakistan was having discussions with the United States and Afghanistan on these kinds of apprehensions.
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