Islamabad: In a blunt message to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said Islamabad could not keep "snakes" in its backyard to strike its neighbours.
"It`s like that old story - you can`t keep snakes in your
backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours.
Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them
in the backyard," Hillary said during a joint news conference
with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
She also demanded greater
cooperation from the country to "squeeze" the Haqqani network
responsible for attacks in Afghanistan.
"We asked very specifically for greater cooperation from
the Pakistani side to squeeze the Haqqani network and other
terrorists because we know that trying to eliminate terrorists
and safe havens on one side of the border is not going to
work," she said.
Hillary, who arrived here yesterday with a high-level
delegation that included CIA director David Petraeus and Joint
Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Martin Dempsey, had earlier said
the US intended to "push the Pakistanis very hard" to remove
militant safe havens and tackle groups like the Haqqani
network that are responsible for cross-border strikes.
She told the news conference: "We should be able to agree
that for too long extremists have been able to operate here in
Pakistan and from Pakistani soil. No one who targets innocent
civilians, whether they are Pakistanis, Afghans, Americans or
anyone else should be tolerated or protected."
Khar did not respond to questions about the US demand for
action against groups like the Haqqani network, and said
Pakistan`s future strategies would be guided by a resolution
adopted by a recent meeting of the country`s political
parties, which had called for giving "peace a chance."
Pakistan-US relations could not be based on a "to do
list" and the two sides need to forge an "operational
convergence or operation work plan" to facilitate the endgame
in Afghanistan, Khar said.
"In evolving any future strategy, the government will be
guided by the All Parties Conference resolution, which calls
on the government to give peace a chance," she said, referring
to the document that called for dialogue to end the unrest in
Asked about Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani`s recent remarks warning the US against launching any
unilateral operation against the Haqqani network in its
stronghold of North Waziristan, Hillary said she agreed with
Kayani that "Pakistan is not Afghanistan or Iraq."
However, Hillary said Pakistan "has a very full and
comprehensive agenda of issues to address both domestically
and internationally" and the US will continue to work with the
Pakistan government on that agenda.
As part of discussions on pressing issues like the Afghan
peace process and reconciliation with the Afghan-Taliban,
Pakistan and the US will have to work jointly on efforts to
"squeeze" the Haqqani network and prevent it from planning and
executing attacks across the border, she said.
Hillary said her discussions in this regard included
"specifics" and the US now looked forward to operationalising
these measures in "days and weeks, not months and years as
there is a lot of work to do."
She did not give details about the specifics.
"We look to Pakistan to take strong steps to deny Afghan
insurgents safe havens and to encourage the Taliban to enter
negotiations in good faith," she said.
At the same time, Hillary sought to address Pakistani
concerns about militants based within Afghanistan launching
attacks on Pakistani border villages and check posts.
Afghan and US forces had launched an operation against
Haqqani operatives that had resulted in the killing or capture
of "many dozens, if not hundreds" of militants, she said.
"With respect to the Haqqanis, we both agreed that
terrorism coming from any source is a threat to all of us. We
expressed very clearly our concerns about safe havens on both
sides of the border. We reasserted our commitment of doing
more on the Afghan side of border to try to eliminate safe
havens that fuel insurgency and attacks inside Pakistan,"
She rejected efforts within Pakistan to blame the US for
all of the country`s problems and called for relations based
on "mutual respect and mutual responsibility."
"It is important to us that you understand our commitment
to a stable, secure, sovereign and prosperous Pakistan," she
At the same time, the US would "encourage Pakistan and
Afghanistan to get back to working together" on the Afghan
reconciliation process through a direct dialogue, Hillary
Efforts will also be made to "restart the core group
of US, Pakistan and Afghanistan" and frame a work plan for a
"transparent and open" reconciliation process so that there
are "no constant questions and suspicions," she said.
Ending terrorism is the "most urgent task" for the
US but it would also focus on efforts like fashioning a "new
Silk Road" for regional economic integration, greater
investment and cross-border trade, more jobs and increased
political stability, she said.
Hillary emphasised that it was "up to the leaders of
Pakistan to follow through on their commitments to reduce
corruption, implement reforms and deliver real results for the
"The US welcomes the progress that Pakistan and India are
making toward normalising their trade relations as well as the
implementation of the transit trade agreement between Pakistan
and Afghanistan," she said.
Khar acknowledged that Pakistan-US ties had gone through
a "challenging phase" in the past few months though the two
sides have a convergence on stated objectives for the region.
Pakistan`s engagements with the US in the past six months
have been focussed on reviewing and revisiting bilateral
relations, she said.
Responding to Pakistani Taliban commander Maulana
Fazlullah`s fresh treat to launch a new war within Pakistan,
Hillary said the US had "great cooperation" in the past with
Pakistan in efforts directed against al Qaeda and would now
have to turn its attention to the "Pakistani Taliban, Afghan
Taliban, Haqqani and other terrorist groups and try to get
them into a peace process".
"But if that fails, prevent them from committing
more violence and murdering more innocent people," she said.