`Suspicious` of India, Pak delays action against terrorists

A US Senator said sanctuaries in Pakistan continue to threaten progress in Afghanistan.

Last Updated: May 01, 2011, 22:56 PM IST

Washington: Deep-seated Pakistani "suspicions of Indian aspirations" in Afghanistan and strong anti-American sentiment have made it difficult for Islamabad to take necessary action against the Taliban and al Qaeda in the safe havens inside Pakistan, a top US Senator said on Sunday.

"Sanctuaries in Pakistan continue to threaten our progress in Afghanistan," said Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Deep-seated Pakistani suspicions of Indian aspirations in Afghanistan and strong anti-American sentiment have made it difficult for Pakistan’s leaders to take sufficient action against the Taliban and other groups that target the US and coalition forces," Kerry said in a op-ed in The Boston Globe.

In the article titled, `Getting The Transition Right`, he underlined the need to "continue working with our allies in Pakistan to remove these sanctuaries to have a chance of success across the border”.

Kerry said in Afghanistan, the administration is negotiating a status-of-forces agreement with its President Hamid Karzai that will determine the contours of US-Afghan post-transition relationship.

"These negotiations should reflect realistic goals for the United States.”

“This means fewer troops and a smaller footprint to help deny extremists sanctuaries," he said.

He said fulfilling the hopes and alleviating worst-case worries will require political engagement with Afghanistan and its neighbours on an acceptable end state.

The top Senator said it will also require a sustainable civilian strategy that leaves behind an Afghan state that can function without indefinite donor resources.

He said reconciliation will not be a silver bullet - there may be no grand bargain to be had with Mullah Omar and certainly not with al Qaeda.

"Groups like the Haqqani network, which is closely aligned with al Qaeda, have shown little interest in a political deal," he noted.

He said since some Taliban appear willing to negotiate, "so we must send a strong message that the US supports a political solution through reconciliation talks among the Afghans".

He made it clear that it will be difficult, "as it was in Iraq".

However, he said Afghans themselves must make the hard choices to bring stability to their country.

This week, Kerry is launching series of comprehensive hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to examine a war US President Barack Obama has already decided will end.

"The goal is to study every question and ultimately articulate a policy of how that war should end in a way that makes America stronger," Kerry said.

He maintained that the transfer of responsibility to the Afghans offers "both hope and challenge”.

He said the hope is that we can help bring stability and security to Afghanistan and bring our men and women in uniform home safely.

"The challenge is that the transition can be thrown off course by increased violence from the insurgents and a lack of resolve from our partners in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere,” Kerry underlined.

PTI