‘No change in relationship between ISI, terror groups`

Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:34

Washington: There is no change in
relationship between the ISI and terrorist organisations like
the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a top US General based in
Afghanistan told US lawmakers on Thursday.

"I have not, sir," General John Allen, Commander of
US and NATO forces in Afghanistan told the members of the
Senate Armed Services Committee when asked by its Ranking
member, Senator John McCain: "Have you seen any change in the
ISI relationship with the Taliban and the Haqqani network?"

McCain said the corruption issue in the Karzai government
and the Pakistani sanctuary and ISI assistance to the Taliban
are the two major challenges to success in Afghanistan.
Allen responding by saying that he agrees with McCain
assessment on this.

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, said that much will depend on countering the
cross-border threat from insurgents finding refuge in safe
havens on Pakistan`s territory, including dealing with the
threat from the Haqqani network, on possible progress in
reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

"And much is going to depend on the Karzai government
improving the delivery of services and economic development,
taking on corruption and providing increased transparency and
on the conduct of credible provincial and national elections,"
he said.

McCain said the Pakistan Army should understand that
continue support to the Taliban is a losing bet.

"The strategic partnership would make clear to the
Taliban that they cannot wait us out and win on the
battlefield, thus fostering real reconciliation on favorable
terms to the Afghan government and to us," he said.

"It would demonstrate to Pakistan`s army that continued
support for the Taliban is a losing bet that will only leave
Islamabad more isolated and less secure. It would give Afghan
leaders the reassurance to fight corruption and govern better.

"In short, this agreement can change the entire
narrative in Afghanistan and the region from imminent
international abandonment to enduring international
commitment," he said.

James N Miller, the Acting Undersecretary of Defence for
Policy, said that success in Afghanistan depends on the
support of Afghanistan`s neighbors, particularly Pakistan.

"Like Afghanistan`s other neighbors, Pakistan has
legitimate interests that must be understood and addressed.

And Pakistan also has responsibilities," he said.

"Most importantly, it needs to take steps to ensure
that militant and extremist groups cannot continue to find
safe haven in Pakistani territory. Pakistan has powerful
incentives to do so. In 2011 some 2,000 attacks in Pakistan
resulted in about 2,400 deaths, mostly from IEDs," Miller
said.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:33
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