WASHINGTON: The US State Department has said that the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups that operate inside Pakistan and along the Afghan border are a continued security threat to the entire South Asian region and beyond.
At the Tuesday afternoon news briefing, spokesman John Kirby also said that a trilateral dialogue of the United States, India and Afghanistan would be a way forward for deciding Afghanistan’s future.
The dialogue is scheduled in New York next month.
The State Department spokesman disagreed with a suggestion that there was a difference of opinion between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Ash Carter over Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism.
Secretary Kerry said in New Delhi earlier this week that in recent months Pakistan had taken strong action against the Haqqani network. But last month, Secretary Carter refused to certify that Pakistan had done enough to counter the terrorist network. The refusal led to the suspension of $300 million of US military aid to Pakistan.
“We all recognise the continued security threat that is posed by the Haqqani network and by other terrorist groups that operate inside Pakistan and along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Mr Kirby.
“The Pentagon is obviously well aware of that, as we are here, and it’s a conversation that we continue to have and will continue to have with our partners in the region. I’m not aware that there’s any dissonance here in terms of the way we’re seeing it,” said the US official who was the Pentagon’s spokesman earlier.
Mr Kirby said the US had held “a constant conversation” with its Pakistani partners about the threat posed by the Haqqani and other extremist groups “there in the region and certainly operating inside Pakistan”.
And “we make these decisions routinely and they’re based on active, fluid, dynamic conversations that we have with Pakistani leaders,” he added.
“I don’t know of any difference. I think the United States government is viewing this very much all in the same light,” said the US official.
Mr Kirby said that Secretary Kerry has held several conversations with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif as well over this issue.
The US official said he would not like to speculate why the United States had postponed trilateral dialogue with India and Afghanistan on the Afghan issue. “I think what matters is that … those discussions are important and they are going to continue.”
Mr Kirby said Secretary Kerry had praised the constructive role that India played in Afghanistan and wanted to see that role continue.
“So we’re focused on the future here. I’m not going to get into a debate or a discussion about what happened in the past and the degree to which those talks didn’t continue. What matters is they are going to continue going forward.”
Mr Kirby said the level of these talks had not been decided yet.
At an earlier briefing at the Pentagon, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar described the Indian narrative of the current trouble in the Kashmir Valley, claiming that it was primarily because of Pakistan’s use of ‘terrorist proxies’, an allegation Islamabad rejects as baseless.
“As far as Kashmir is concerned, I think the government of India has been very proactive in handling the violence which comes from across the border,” Mr Parrikar said at a joint briefing with Secretary Carter.
Mr Carter did not contest the Indian narrative, saying that Pakistan-based terrorist groups had targeted both Indian civilians and military.
“Terrorism is one of the many missions on which we cooperate…We oppose terrorism affecting anyone and us. That’s certainly true with respect to terrorist acts perpetrated against the Indian people, and also I should mention the Indian military,” he said-DN
THE PASHTUN TIMES