The US will never win its fight against terrorism until Pakistan ends supporting the extremist groups operating in Afghanistan, according to top American Senators.
'Pakistani support for extremist groups operating in Afghanistan, whether it is passive or deliberate, must end if we and Afghanistan are to achieve necessary levels of security,' Senator Jack Reed, Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee said during a Congressional hearing here on Afghanistan.
He was joined by several other lawmakers in expressing their views on Pakistan not taking action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“It’s very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven. I think we need to continue to work closely with Pakistan,” acknowledged General John Nicholson, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
He was responding to a question from lawmakers on the safe havens inside Pakistan.
“What’s your view of what we need to do concerning the safe haven issue in Pakistan?” Senator John McCain, Chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee asked. “We still have enemy sanctuary in areas like Quetta, like you mention, with the Taliban leadership, and other cities within the tribal areas for the Haqqani leadership,” Nicholson said as he called for adopting a holistic approach in dealing with Pakistan.
Senator Reed alleged that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), at times seemed “to be aiding and assisting Haqqani Network” and others. Maine Senator Angus King said the US will never win this fight as long as Pakistan is acting as a sanctuary.
“What can we do to get Pakistan off the dime on these issues? They were good in Waziristan. But, there’s plenty of areas they’ve left untouched. What do we have to do? Cut off funding, have a summit or something?” he said. “Because we’re doing all of this work in Afghanistan which will never achieve final success as long as Pakistan sitting there enabling a lot of this activity,” King said.
“We need to do a holistic review of our Pakistan policy. And sit down Pakistan leaders. Of course, we have an opportunity for such a review; given the new administration and the new chain of command. We have many areas where we could be working together and our mutual benefit. I think this is a key to the future,” Nicholson said.
“I’m personally committed to this and working with my Pakistani counterparts. President Ashraf Ghani wants to work with Pakistan towards a peaceful resolution. And, in my initial conversations with my chain of command, this is a high priority for all of us,” he said.