Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pakistan linked to group blamed for Kabul attack

This is a problem we have discussed several times before. Our good “allies” in Pakistan simply can not be trusted. In this latest example the United States accused Pakistan of having links to a militant group Washington blames for an attack on the U.S. embassy and other targets in Kabul and said the government in Islamabad must cut those ties.

"The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani network," the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, told Radio Pakistan in comments aired on Saturday. "There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop."

The Haqqani network is one of three, and perhaps deadliest, of the Taliban allied insurgent factions fighting U.S., NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

Insurgents in a bomb-laden truck occupied a building in Kabul last week, raining rockets and gunfire on the U.S. embassy and other targets in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital. Five Afghan police and 11 civilians were killed.

Washington has long blamed militants sheltering in Pakistan for violence in Afghanistan. Islamabad says its forces are taking high casualties fighting insurgents, and denies any suggestion it provides support for fighters. But the U.S. has had plenty of evidence of Pakistani government cooperation with the insurgent organizations.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would "do everything we can" to defend U.S. forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan.

Munter suggested ties with Pakistan, which relies heavily on billions of dollars of U.S. aid, were still heavily strained, despite recent comments from both sides on strong counter-terrorism cooperation. "These relations today need a lot of work," he said (diplomatic understatement).

The Haqqani network is perhaps the most divisive issue between the two allies, whose ties have been badly damaged by the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in May. Pakistan has still failed to explain how bin Laden got away with living in a million dollar estate nestled between several major military installations, apparently for several years.

"The key here is that this is going to take a real effort to work together, to agree who the enemy is, to make sure that we identify those people who will attack Pakistanis, Afghans, and Americans, that we do not give them any space anywhere," Munter told Radio Pakistan. "These people have to be pursued everywhere. We will work with our Pakistani friends to make that happen but we cannot put up with this kind of fight. We have to make sure that in our talks with your leadership, we figure out the best way to put these attacks to an end."

The United States has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the network, which it believes is one of the most lethal organizations in Afghanistan and enjoys sanctuaries in North Waziristan, a global hub for militants near the Afghan border.

Pakistan's powerful Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has long been suspected of maintaining ties to the Haqqani network, cultivated during the 1980s when its founder Jalaluddin Haqqani was a feared battlefield commander against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

The Haqqanis are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan, and are believed to have been behind high-profile attacks there, including a raid on Kabul's top hotel and an assassination attempt on the president. In one example of the Haqqani group's effectiveness, they are believed to have helped an al Qaeda suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents at a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan last year, the deadliest strike on the agency in decades.

I have a couple of simple questions –If we know we can not trust them, why are we sending them billions of dollars in aid? And, Why has President Obama remained silent on this issue? His top advisors, including the Ambassador to Pakistan (whom he appointed) and his own Secretary of Defense are telling him there is a serious trust problem so why doesn’t he step up and show a little leadership to protect our interests and the lives of our service members?

Live Long and Prosper....

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