Washington: The US intends to keep between 10,000 to 15,000 counter-terrorism troops in Afghanistan, much beyond its troops’ drawdown in 2014, which could cross over into Pakistan in case of crisis, a top Obama aide had warned Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
A top Obama aide conveyed this to the Pakistan Army Chief at a secret meeting in Abu Dhabi last October in a bid to spur Pakistan to take strong action against the Haqqani network, a book has claimed.
But the threat didn`t appear to have made the desired impact, according to the book `Confront and Conceal` by New York Times journalist David Sanger which hit the stands yesterday.
The book depicts President Barack Obama`s crisis moments soon after taking over the mantle from George Bush.
Kayani refused to give any guarantee of taking action against Haqqani network, as being demanded by the Obama administration.
The details of a meeting between a three-member presidential delegation led by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Kayani at a secret location in Abu Dhabi have been made public for the first time.
Donilon was accompanied by Mark Grossman, the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Douglas Lute, Obama`s top adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Donilon had sent ahead a document laying out the long-term American strategy, including a plan to keep somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 American counterterrorism troops in Afghanistan, mostly at Bagram Airfield, a large base just outside Kabul, to protect the interests of the US in the region."
"His meaning was clear: the United States would remain, and its troops would be ready to go over the Pakistani border if they needed to," Sanger writes in his book.
The three Americans told Kayani they had incriminating evidence about the latest two bold attacks against Americans in Afghanistan, the journalist wrote, but noted that even this did not have any impact on Kayani.
Kayani sought assurance from the US that there would be no repeat of raid like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, which according to him violated the sovereignty of Pakistan.
"We will undertake whatever steps we need to protect our forces," Donilon said.
"We would prefer to act jointly. But if you refuse...We will come in and do what we have to do."
"He did not need to add that the American model of success in this regard was Abbottabad, where seventy commandos infiltrated Pakistani airspace, landed 40 miles from the Pakistani capital, killed bin Laden and his few protectors, and swept up his computers - all without setting off Pakistan’s defences," the book said.
The unspoken message was, `We can do it again`.
"Kayani took another drag on the cigarette and blew a little more smoke."
Donilon, Lute, and Grossman knew what that meant.
“The Pakistanis had no intention of turning over or taking on the Haqqani network; it was their insurance policy for the moment when the Americans would inevitably leave," the book said.
"And when Donilon, Lute, and Grossman got home- a seventeen-hour flight aboard a military jet - they knew their first stop: the dry cleaners. Getting the fumes out of their suits would be easy enough.”
"Detoxifying the American relationship with Pakistan would be much more difficult," it said reflecting the relationship between the two countries.