Envoy hopes for increased US, Pakistan cooperation

Pakistan is cooperating more with US-backed Afghan peace efforts but not to the extent sought by Washington, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan said on Friday.

Speaking on a visit to Britain, Richard Holbrooke cited several areas of progress including a greater Pakistani military push against militants on its soil, but an Afghan Taliban faction called the Haqqani network remained a “real problem”.

“Without Pakistan’s participation, this [Afghan] war could go on indefinitely,” he said in a briefing for reporters after holding talks with Britain’s chief of the defence staff, David Richards, and UK National Security Adviser Peter Ricketts.

“There’s much more cooperation at every level,” he said, citing joint efforts to build bilateral military, consular and economic ties and an expanded assault by Pakistani forces against some militants in areas near the Afghan border.

“But I don’t want to mislead you … it [cooperation] is not yet where we hope it will be,” he said.

Pakistani action against militants on the frontier is seen as important for bringing stability to Afghanistan, where US forces are leading a major Nato offensive against the Taliban.

But Pakistan is believed to be using the Haqqanis to strike a deal with President Hamid Karzai to gain influence and keep the sway of rival India to a minimum should the United States begin drawing down troops in July 2011 as planned.

The Haqqani network, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, is one of three main factions of the Afghan Taliban.

The group is blamed for several daring attacks on coalition and Afghan forces and is allied with both Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.

Haqqanis a ‘real problem’
Holbrooke declined to discuss North Waziristan, home of the Haqqanis and other armed groups. Washington has urged Pakistani forces to enter the area to attack fighters there.


“Everyone talks about North Waziristan but what we talk about is the Haqqani network,” he said, citing several attacks inside Afghanistan he said it had launched.

“Let’s be very specific … It’s a real problem.”

US officials said in June the United States had given Pakistan evidence about the growing reach of the Haqqanis, which Washington suspects have ties to Pakistani intelligence.

Although denying it supports its old Afghan Taliban allies, Washington’s nuclear-armed ally has long turned a blind eye to their members and support networks in the belief the Taliban represent the only leverage it has over Afghanistan.

Holbrooke reiterated a longstanding dismissal of media speculation about attempts to explore possible reconciliation talks between the Afghan Taliban and US officials.

He said “the emphasis right now” was going on reintegration, a term for efforts to persuade Taliban foot soldiers to lay down their arms and participate in social and development projects.

“The reintegration policy is the key to a successful counter-insurgency campaign,” Holbrooke said.

“As for reconciliation, it’s out there somewhere. We’ve talked about it. The US will support Afghan-led reconciliation and by that we mean we need to know what’s going on. Not much is going on now, and nothing is going on with the United States.” – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations