Pakistan rejects US claim on Haqqani Network (Lead)
Islamabad, Aug 31 (IANS) 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.