Clinton Intensifies Pressure on Pakistan to Tackle Insurgents

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is looking to Pakistan to “take strong steps” to deny Afghan insurgents safe havens and encourage the Taliban to enter peace talks after 10 years of fighting.

Clinton spoke Friday in Islamabad alongside Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

The top U.S. diplomat said Pakistan would not be immune from suffering if the fight against militants failed, saying “you can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.”

Pakistan's foreign minister admitted Pakistan could do more in cooperating with other countries to clamp down on the militant safe havens along the Afghan border. But Khar noted that there are safe havens on both sides of the Afghan border and that there is “no question of any support” by Pakistan to the militants.

Both U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Islamabad of supporting insurgent groups in Afghanistan. The United States has also been pushing Pakistan to launch a new military offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal region, the reported base of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network.

Pakistani officials have refused to target the Haqqani group, saying they want to solidify gains against their own domestic Taliban movement first.

Clinton was in a second day of meetings with top Pakistani officials in Islamabad. She is traveling with a large U.S. delegation for the talks, including CIA chief David Petraeus and top U.S. military officer General Martin Dempsey.

Clinton arrived in Pakistan Thursday after meeting with President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, officials in northwestern Pakistan say at least 30 militants attacked the house of a prominent anti-Taliban elder's house, killing the elder's two sons and a daughter-in-law. Authorities say the attack happened Friday in the Mohmand tribal area bordering Afghanistan.