No progress on safe haven issue in Pak: US General
Washington: There has been no progress on the issue of safe havens in Pakistan, according to a top American general who has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
"It is not apparent to me that there's been any progress with the safe haven issue in Pakistan," General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.
Dunford, who has been nominated by the US President as the Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was responding to questions from Senator John McCain during his confirmation hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Gen John Allen.
"Senator, I think over time, safe haven in Pakistan needs to be addressed," he said.
"Do you believe that any strategy in Afghanistan can be successful while militants continue to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan?" McCain asked.
Dunford hoped that the bilateral security agreement between the US and Afghanistan might influence Pakistan to stop hedging its bets on terrorist networks.
"I think Pakistan hedges its bets based on what they believe our long-term commitment to the region would be. And their calculus will be changed as a result of their knowing that we are not only going to be there through December of 2014, but we'll be there beyond 2014 to secure our national objectives," he said.
The current US-Afghan negotiations on bilateral security agreement would have an impact of Islamabad's policies towards Afghanistan, he noted.
"The other capitals that have interest -- Iran, Russia, China -- all the countries that have interest in Afghanistan, their calculus would be affected by our signing a bilateral security agreement. And again, more importantly, the signing of that agreement reflecting the commitment that was initially made in May of 2012," he said.
Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Islamabad is the first capital that will be affected by the bilateral security agreement.
"The whole argument that you referred to that part of the reason they continue to be tied -- some elements of the Pakistani government -- to terrorist groups like Haqqani network and ISI is that they're hedging their bets for what happens the day after we leave. If we're not leaving, presumably, they lose that argument," he argued.