Haqqani network a threat to NATO in Afghanistan

With its safe havens inside Pakistan, the Haqqani network poses a threat to NATO forces in Afghanistan, a top NATO official has said.

Updated: Oct 05, 2011, 08:43 AM IST

Washington: With its safe havens inside
Pakistan, the Haqqani network poses a threat to NATO forces in
Afghanistan, a top NATO official has said.

"The Haqqani Network constitutes a threat both to the
Afghan people and to our troops in Afghanistan," NATO
Secretary General, Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussles
ahead of the NATO ministerial meeting later this week.

He said NATO was encouraging the Pakistani government and
the Pakistani military to deal with safe havens in the border
region.

Rasmussen said that there was a cross border traffic that
makes possible for the Haqqani Network, and also other
terrorist networks, to operate in Afghanistan.

"This constituting a clear threat to NATO troops and to
the Afghan people. And then go back to safe havens in Pakistan," he said in response to a question.

Expressing concerns he said it was common concerns and
NATO needs a positive engagement of Pakistan to address this
issue. "In general, we need a positive partnership with
Pakistan."

The Defense Ministers meeting of NATO countries later
this week among other things would discuss Libya and Af-Pak,
he said. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would also
participate in the meeting.

Rasmussen said that they would also meet with their ISAF
partners to discuss progress in Afghanistan, "because there
has been significant progress since our last meeting."

"Transition is fully on track, and we will not allow
insurgents to derail it. Already Afghan forces are providing
lead security for a quarter of the population. I expect the
next stage of transition to be announced soon, and I expect it
to be substantial. And at the same time, our military
authorities assess that the insurgency has been weakened
overall," he said according to the transcripts made available
here.

The NATO Secretary General said that the level of
violence were of concern as a number of attacks have created
the perception that security incidents were on the rise.

"However, our commanders are confident that security
incidents initiated by insurgent groups are lower than last
year. About a year ago, we were talking about the security
situation in Central Helmand. This was focus of our efforts.
And we said things would get worse before they got better,"
Rasmussen said.

"We are seeing the results of our efforts. Attacks since
June are significantly lower than last year. In fact, some
districts in Central Helmand have seen reductions in violence
of nearly 80 per cent," he said, adding that the strategy was
working. "We should concentrate on the competence of the
Afghan Security Forces in dealing with attacks."

PTI