Get tough on Pakistan: Ex-envoy to US

Former US envoy to the UN contends that Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban.

New York: Contending that Pakistan gives not only sanctuary but also support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network, a former US diplomat has asked the US to get tough on the country which plays both "vital positive" and "negative" roles in combating terrorism.

"Pakistan has done, and continues to do, a great deal of good: many of the supply lines and much of the logistical support for NATO forces in Afghanistan run through Pakistan," Zalmay Khalilzad, US envoy to the United Nations during the Bush administration, said.

"At the same time, Pakistan gives not only sanctuary but also support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network. This has hampered our military efforts; contributed to American, coalition and Afghan deaths; and helped sour relations between Kabul and Washington," he wrote in The New York Times.

Khalilzad also suggested that Pakistan wants to frustrate military and political strategies of the US and impede reconciliation between the Karzai government and Taliban so that "pro-Pakistani forces will have the upper hand in Afghanistan after the United States departs”.

Khalilzad further suggested that Washington should demand that Islamabad close "all sanctuaries and military support programs for insurgents or else we will carry out operations against those insurgent havens, with or without Pakistani consent."

The former UN envoy rejected arguments that such pressure would cause Pakistan to totter, noting that the country`s security organs were "sufficiently strong”.

In his piece, Khalilzad also suggested that the US needed to show that it would remain engaged in the region even after the troops left, next year, and recommended long-term assistance to Pakistan to develop its economy.

The US diplomat, who is presently a counsellor at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, underlined the importance of the US playing a role in improving relations between India and Pakistan.

"Based on my recent discussions with Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, I believe the civilian leadership would welcome such a move," he said.