Washington: Wary of Indian influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan continues to support insurgent groups and provide terrorist safe havens so as to have its influence inside the war-torn country, the Pentagon told the Congress on Tuesday.
Pakistan's selective counter insurgency operations, passive acceptance of insurgent safe havens and its unwillingness to interdict materials such as IEDs components undermine the security of Afghanistan, it said in a congressionally mandated report.
The Pentagon informed Congress that because of "pervasive mistrust, long standing tensions and divergent strategic interests" continue to make genuine co-operation with Pakistan very difficult for the United States.
"Insurgent efforts - including assassinations of Afghan officials and attack on Afghan coalition forces emanating from the safe havens in Pakistan (particularly those sheltering the Haqqani network and other Taliban affiliates), continue to threaten the emergence of a durable and stable political solution in Afghanistan," the report said.
The Pentagon said that Pakistan continues to seek a stable, secure Afghanistan, an Afghan Government with primacy for Pashtuns and limited Indian influence.
"To this end, Pakistan has allowed an insurgent sanctuary in its border to persist, offering a safe haven to Afghan Taliban and associated militant groups including the Haqqani Taliban Network in the North Waziristan Agency," it said.
"Pakistani leaders have tolerated this due to their concerns that Pakistan will be left alone to confront an unstable, an unfriendly, or an Indian-influenced Afghanistan on its border.
"Accordingly, Pakistan seeks to play a key role in the peace and reconciliation process to advance a political settlement that considers Pakistani interests," the Pentagon said.
In its semi-annual 135 page 'Report on Progress Toward
Security and Stability in Afghanistan', the Pentagon praises the progress made by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)and the lead that it is now taking against the insurgents and terrorists.
"The year 2011 saw the first ever over year decline in nationwide enemy-initiated attacks in five years. These trends have continued in 2012," it said adding that ANSF continued to develop into a force capable of assuming the lead for security responsibility throughout Afghanistan.
At the same time, the report identifies the safe havens in Pakistan as the major challenge for Afghanistan.
"The Taliban-led insurgency and its al Qaeda affiliates still operate with impunity from sanctuaries in Pakistan.
"The insurgency's safe haven in Pakistan as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan Government remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable and sustainable Afghanistan," the report said.
Observing that the capabilities of the Afghan government remains limited, the report expresses "strategic concern" over the continued closure of the crucial NATO supply route to Afghanistan by Pakistan after the November 26 incident in which 24 Pak soldiers were killed.
"The resultant standoff has hampered ANSF equipping and fielding efforts by backlogging thousands of tons of equipment.
"Failure to settle the GLOC (ground lines of communication) issue will also significantly degrade redeployment and retrograde operations in support of the drawdown of coalition forces," the Pentagon report said.
First Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 22:07