Clinton Intends to Push Pakistan ‘Very Hard’ on Militants

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she intends to push the Pakistanis “very hard” to help remove suspected Taliban safehavens on their side of the border.

Clinton made her comments alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday in Kabul. She is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad later in the day with the U.S. spy chief David Petraeus and top military officer General Martin Dempsey for meetings with top Pakistan officials.

Clinton and Mr. Karzai met earlier Thursday to discuss reconciliation efforts with the Taliban and the transition of security in the war-torn country.

At the Kabul news conference, Clinton said Pakistan plays an important role in Afghanistan's future and that the neighboring countries and the United States must work together to tackle the shared Taliban threat.

She said Pakistan will be looked upon to take a lead role in confronting militants.

Both U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of supporting insurgent groups in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

The United States also has been pushing Pakistan to launch a military offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal region, the reported base of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network. The militant group has attacked U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's army chief said Tuesday the U.S. should focus instead on stabilizing Afghanistan, and that Pakistan could take action in North Waziristan “tomorrow” if he were convinced it would solve all problems. General Ashfaq Kayani added that any such offensive would be Pakistan's decision.

On Thursday, Pakistani paramilitary soldiers launched a raid in the Khyber tribal area along the Afghan border, resulting in a shootout that killed two soldiers and five militants.

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have been strained since the May 2 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city Abbottabad. Pakistan was not informed about the U.S. special forces operation in advance and condemned the raid as a violation of its sovereignty.