Islamabad: Pakistan’s top security advisor on Monday rejected US assertions that the dreaded Haqqani Network is orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil. Sartaj Aziz made the statement a day after US National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Pakistani leaders to stop the Haqqani Network from launching attacks on Afghanistan. The US security advisor met senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, during a day-long visit on Sunday. A member of Rice delegation after meetings spoke with a group of senior journalists in Islamabad that Rice told Pakistani leaders that the US shares Kabul’s “concerns” and “anguish” about the increase in attacks that the Haqqani Network has recently carried out in Afghanistan. Aziz disputed the US claim about Haqqani Network when he spoke at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Islamabad.
“The infrastructure of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan tribal region, which included IED (Improvised Explosive Device) factories and a number of other capacities including communication has been disrupted, so what was left here may be very limited compared to the capacity they still have in Afghanistan,” Aziz said. “So, the assessment of if they (Haqqani Network) were involved in any activity how much it came from here and what happened from Afghanistan is very difficult to verify,” the Pakistani advisor insisted when he was asked about the reported remarks of his American counterpart.
He said there may be still an assumption in Afghanistan that the Haqqani Network still have ability to control or direct things from Pakistani soil. But “our assessment is that their capacity in Afghanistan is much, much bigger, probably 80-90 percent compared to what is here and what is here is also being cleaned out as a part of our operations. So, I think it is a question of verifying the ground situation but on the objectives there is no difference of opinion right now and I hope in due course this will be resolved. “Aziz said there was widespread appreciation for the decisive action Pakistani forces have taken against terrorism and extremism, adding that the question of the Haqqani Network is a more limited issue and it depends on the assessment of the ground situation. The German foreign minister appreciated Pakistan’s achievements in fight against terrorism and said the world recognizes its sacrifices in war against terrorism.
Washington, November 2, 2017 : The White House retains a list of 20 terrorist groups that it claims are operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and is believed to have shared this list with Islamabad, the media reported on Thursday.
However, the list was not given to Pakistani authorities by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he visited Islamabad last week, diplomatic sources told Dawn news.
The White House list includes three types of militant groups: those who launch attacks into Afghanistan, those who attack targets inside Pakistan and those who are focused on Kashmir.
Top on the list is the Haqqani Network which, the US claims, has safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan.
Pakistan strongly rejects the charge, saying that there were no such safe havens inside the country.
The US also identified Lashkar-e-Taiba as one of the largest and most active terrorist organisations in South Asia.
The other militant groups in the list include Harakatul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jundullah, Lashkar-i-Jhanghvi and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. (IANS)
America have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time Pakistan is housing the very terrorists they are fighting
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network
Top leaders of both groups-Taliban and the Haqqani network enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan
Washington, USA, September 2, 2017: In his South Asia strategy speech last week, President Donald Trump publicly puts Pakistan on notice that it must stop providing sanctuaries to armed groups that are fighting in Afghanistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said Trump, laying out his “condition-based approach” to defeating terrorism in Afghanistan.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting. But that will have to change and that will change immediately,” he vowed.
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
Analysts charge that sanctuaries in Pakistan have helped the militants sustain a bloody insurgency in Afghanistan against the Western-backed Afghan government.
“Top leaders of both groups [Taliban and the Haqqani network] enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan — mainly Baluchistan province, but also some of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” Michel Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, told VOA.
“It is not just the leaderships of these groups that enjoy Pakistani largesse; it’s the fighters, too,” he added.
Afghan Taliban’s leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, is reportedly based in the Pakistani southwestern city of Quetta, which shares a border with Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, the traditional stronghold of the Afghan Taliban.
The Haqqani network, one of the most notorious terror groups in the region, is reportedly based in Miram Shah, a town in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northern Pakistan. The group, which has been blamed for numerous deadly attacks inside Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan government, is reportedly operating with impunity from across the border.
The Afghan government charges that militant sanctuaries are the main reason behind the country’s instability.
“Neighbor countries have been a major part of the problem in Afghanistan. Terrorists’ safe havens and sanctuaries are out of Afghanistan, where they get support, training, and equipment,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told VOA.
Pakistan maintains that the Afghan Taliban controls large swaths of territory inside Afghanistan and does not need to have sanctuaries inside Pakistan.
“They don’t need hideouts or sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have vast territory [under their control], which is beyond Kabul’s writ, at their disposal. Why would they come to Pakistan for sanctuaries?” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said over the weekend.
Following Trump’s speech, Pakistan denied the allegations that it harbors militants and cited its sacrifices in the ongoing war against terror as an example of how the country itself has been a victim of terrorism.
In an effort to illustrate its displeasure at the U.S president’s speech, Pakistan postponed Asif’s planned trip to Washington and also delayed a planned visit to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells to Islamabad.
Could the U.S. take unilateral action?
As the administration is weighing its options to deal with the issue of sanctuaries in Pakistan, some analysts doubt Pakistan will take action against militants operating from its soil unless more rigorous pressure is applied on the country.
“The Trump administration will need to deploy new forms of pressure. Previous forms of pressure — threats, aid conditionalities and aid cuts — have not worked. The administration will need to step up its actions and make them much more draconian — and this is clearly already under consideration,” Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, told VOA.
Meanwhile, David Des Roches, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington, believes that while it is unlikely that the Pakistanis would back down publicly, it “is quite possible that they will facilitate enhanced American action against militants in Pakistan.”
What seems unclear so far is to what lengths the U.S. is willing to go as far as tackling the issue of safe havens in Pakistan.
While talking to reporters at the State Department last week, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted that the U.S. would target terrorists “wherever they live” without elaborating further.
“There’s been an erosion of trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.
Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, told VOA that the U.S. should target Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries inside Pakistan and push Islamabad “out of its comfort zone.”
“Pakistan has become comfortable with its dual policy; receives U.S. assistance and works to defeat the U.S. in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.
He advocated for sanctions against senior military and intelligence officers who support extremist groups.
“Take Pakistan off the list of the major non-NATO ally, which provides the opportunity to receive significant security assistance; suspend assistance program; push IMF, World Bank, and Asian and European allies to suspend assistance programs,” Khalilzad added.
“If America imposes sanctions, Pakistan will probably be unable to receive assistance from IMF and the World Bank, and international companies will not be willing to invest in Pakistan,” Saad Mohammad Khan, a retired Pakistani military leader, told VOA. (VOA)
China’s investment of around $60 billion under CPEC collaboration is expected to bring around 20,000 Chinese to Pakistan
Public and private institutions are establishing links with Chinese counterparts to promote exchanges in higher education and provide research opportunities on both sides of the border
While both countries have traditionally enjoyed close political and defense ties, officials hope the corridor will further cement relations and bring economic prosperity to Pakistan
Islamabad, June 20, 2017:China is investing billions of dollars in extensive roads, railways, special industrial zones and energy infrastructure in Pakistan. The massive collaboration dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, is generating interest among Pakistani students and professionals to learn Mandarin.
Li Xue Mei teaches compulsory Mandarin lessons to around 300 students ranging from grade five to middle school. She is one of the Chinese instructors at the private Roots millennium schools, where more than 7,000 children are learning the language.
“They are good and they are very excited to learn Chinese,” she said.
She adds that writing Chinese language characters is challenging for her students, but they quickly master it. The instructor underscores the urgency of learning Mandarin.
“I think they need to learn more Chinese to learn Chinese culture and they can communicate more and they can cooperate better with Chinese people and they can work better,” she said.
China’s investment of around $60 billion under CPEC collaboration is expected to bring around 20,000 Chinese to Pakistan.
A large number of them have already moved to the country, mostly running private businesses.
Public and private institutions are establishing links with Chinese counterparts to promote exchanges in higher education and provide research opportunities on both sides of the border.
Beijing regards CPEC as “a pilot flagship project” of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a massive trade and connectivity venture aimed at linking China to the rest of Asia, Africa and Europe through both land and maritime routes.
While both countries have traditionally enjoyed close political and defense ties, officials hope the corridor will further cement relations and bring economic prosperity to Pakistan.
“History bears testimony to the fact that this great friendship has stood the test of time. But in the past four years this relationship has crossed new thresholds and culminated in the establishment of CPEC,” said Pakistani Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz.
The nearly 3,000-kilometer long corridor China is building in Pakistan will allow its trade convoys to travel along the Karakoram Highway, snaking past snow-capped ranges, down to the deep-water Pakistani port of Gwadar. The freight will then be placed on ships bound for markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. (VOA)