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Sever ties with Lashkar, Haqqani network: US

File photo of General Kayani with General Patreaus.

ISLAMABAD: The US has launched renewed pressure on Pakistan to sever ties with certain militant groups as President Obama prepares to review his policy for the region next week.

Ahead of the crucial policy review for Pakistan and Afghanistan, the senior US military and intelligence officials met the country’s top political and military leadership on Monday to discuss contentious issues at the heart of the battle against extremism.

The meetings between top US Commander in Afghanistan Gen David Petraeus and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and separately between Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Deputy Director Michael Morell focused on Pakistan’s crucial role in turning the tide in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

The official statements on these high-level interactions said little but diplomatic sources claim the meetings were about Pakistan’s military establishment’s alleged ties with militant groups namely Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network.

“Our assessment is that Pakistan has indifferent approach to Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network,” said an American diplomatic on condition of anonymity.

The Americans believe Haqqani Network, believed to be based in the North Waziristan, is the deadliest militant outfit fighting NATO troops in Afghanistan. The Obama administration has been asking Pakistan to launch a military offensive against the network for months but the country has so far resisted the US pressure, as the military establishment apparently does not consider it a direct threat to its interests.

“Gen Patreaus has been discussing this with Gen Kayani,” said the diplomat adding President Obama is likely to raise this issue next week when he will unveil his administration’s assessment about the war in Afghanistan and the border region of Pakistan.

“The American officials now frequently confront us on these issues,” said a Pakistani official. “We are aware of the American pressures but we have our own strategic concerns in the region,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2010.

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