Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as ‘baseless’ the latest US report accusing Islamabad of undermining security in Afghanistan by allowing safe havens for insurgents.
A Pentagon report released on Monday said that Pakistan is persistently undermining security in Afghanistan by permitting safe havens for insurgents and its failure to effectively combat the flow of improvised explosive devices (IED) materials.
The October 2012 report, published by the US Department of Defense (DoD), is from the period of April to October of this year. The report says, “The insurgency’s safe havens in Pakistan, the limited institutional capacity of the Afghan government, and endemic corruption remain the greatest risks to long-term stability and sustainable security in Afghanistan.”
However, a senior security official told The Express Tribune on Tuesday on condition of anonymity that “as the drawdown approaches, the US appears to make Pakistan a scapegoat to cover up its own failures in Afghanistan.”
According to AFP, the DoD in its biannual report said that the 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan and their allies had succeeded in preventing Taliban advances, while limiting civilian casualties.
The DoD report stated that the insurgency in Afghanistan receives support including sanctuary, training infrastructure, operational and financial support from within Pakistan. “The availability of sanctuary inside of Pakistan enables key elements of the insurgency to remain potent and threatening, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Taliban Network.”
But Taliban havens across the border in Pakistan, the limited capacity of the Afghan government and “endemic corruption” posed the greatest risks as the US prepares to pull out troops by the end of 2014, the Pentagon said.
Reacting to the Pentagon assessment, the official insisted that Pakistan had not permitted any “terrorist sanctuaries” on its soil. “If they (US) have any evidence about safe heavens, they should share with us,” he added.
The official said Pakistan will issue a formal rejoinder to the report following a detailed study.
Separately, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said Pakistan has signaled its readiness to US officials to deal with terrorist safe havens in response to pressure to deny sanctuary to militant groups.
“We are more encouraged with the fact that they want to take steps to try to limit the terrorist threat within their own country and obviously the threat that goes across the border to Afghanistan,” Panetta told reporters. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has also “indicated a willingness to try to put more pressure on safe havens.”
While “actions have to speak louder than words, I do believe they are in a better place because they understand the kind of threats they should deal with,” Panetta said.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with an 18-member Afghan parliamentary delegation, Prime Minister Raja Parvaiz Ashraf insisted that Pakistan wanted peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Referring to the recent visit of Chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani and Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Prime Minister Ashraf said that “he was pleased that the relations are on the right direction.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2012.