Clinton steps up pressure on Pakistan, Taliban

Published: October 20, 2011
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks near Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a joint news conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Kabul October 20, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks near Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a joint news conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Kabul October 20, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday demanded that Pakistan dismantle Taliban safe havens, stepping up the pressure on Islamabad as American troops pressed a major offensive along the border.

Clinton spoke in unusually strong language following talks in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai a month after his peace broker was assassinated, derailing any immediate prospect of reconciliation with the Taliban.

She warned the Taliban to be part of a peaceful future or face a continuing assault, but urged Islamabad to play a “constructive” role in bringing militants to negotiations aimed at ending the 10-year war in Afghanistan.

But many policy makers in Islamabad see a twin US approach of pressing the fight on the battlefield and pursuing reconciliation efforts behind the scenes as contradictory, arguing that Pakistan cannot make any further sacrifices.

Clinton is later due in Pakistan later Thursday, when she is to be joined by CIA chief David Petraeus and top US military officer Martin Dempsey.

“And now it’s a question as to how much cooperation Pakistanis will provide in going after those safe havens,” she said.

“We intend to push the Pakistanis very hard as to what they are willing and able to do with us… to remove the safe havens and the continuing threats across the border to Afghans,” said Clinton.

She warned militants that “we are going to seek you in your safe havens” on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border and confirmed a US operation against the hardline Haqqani network it blames for some of the worst war attacks.

“There was a major military operation inside Afghanistan in recent days that has been rounding up and eliminating Haqqani operatives on this side of the border,” Clinton told reporters in a leafy plaza of Karzai’s palace.

It is her first visit to the region since a 19-hour siege of the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing on a NATO outpost that wounded 77 Americans last month. Washington blamed the attacks on the Haqqanis.

Dempsey’s predecessor Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani network the “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and accused Pakistani spies of being involved in the embassy siege, dramatically worsening ties.

Clinton confirmed that the United States believes the network operates out of a “safe haven in Pakistan”.

US commanders say the Haqqanis are their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. It is an Afghan Taliban faction, loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Clinton said her talks in Pakistan will focus on “how to increase pressure on the safe havens there” while at the same time urging Pakistan to support efforts at negotiations.

“We believe that they can play either a constructive or a destructive role in helping to bring into talks those with whom the Afghans themselves must sit across the table and hammer out a negotiated settlement,” she said.

“We will be looking to the Pakistanis to take the lead because the terrorists operating outside of Pakistan pose a threat to Pakistanis, as well as to Afghans and others,” she said.

Karzai, who has long called on Pakistan to wipe out militant sanctuaries feeding the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, spoke of “shifting the focus” of the peace effort to Pakistan.

The president said Afghanistan believed that the Taliban “to a very very great extent is controlled by establishments in Pakistan.”

He added: “The proper authority we firmly believe is in Pakistan and the venue therefore should be in Pakistan.”

Pakistani security officials say privately that contacts are maintained with insurgent groups to facilitate any eventual settlement in Afghanistan, a possibility that would be squandered if it launched any new offensive.

Islamabad argues that it has already made tremendous sacrifices, losing 3,000 soldiers and thousands of civilians in bomb attacks on its soil, and that it cannot do what the Americans demand when the relationship is so unpopular.

“When the Americans ask us to do more, why don’t they try to understand our problems and address our reservations and concerns?” one Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Pakistan will tell the Americans that the military options are getting limited in Afghanistan and there is a need to promote a genuine Afghan-led peace process through dialogue involving all the stakeholders,” he added.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 20, 2011 - 3:15PM

    Thank you! , we have two very expensive robots here in Asia, and we come here to check their maintenance.thank you so far they are working perfectly all right .


  • Ram
    Oct 20, 2011 - 3:18PM

    Pakistan has made it amply clear on several occasions that the militants are their strategic assets regardless of whether they attack Americans / Indians / Afgans & also Pakitanis.

    Hillary is already aware of her futile visit. She will make one more last attempt to warn Pakistan that US will take unilateral actions – troops are already across the Afgan border.


  • Oct 20, 2011 - 3:34PM

    So Afghanistan will be in peace if sanctuaries in Pakistan are cleansed? How? Afghanistan-Pakistan boundary is more porous than a tissue paper! The insurgents will just move into Afghanistan just as they moved into Pakistan in 2001. And they call us delusional!

    US should leave Afghanistan prompt! Give the control to Afghans and let them decide who they see rule over them. Regional players have to stop interfering including Pakistan, Iran, India and Russia. But all this can happen if there is sincerity involved – is anyone so?


  • Diggvijay Singh
    Oct 20, 2011 - 4:02PM

    There is no reason for concern for Pakistan. Yesterday’s statement by General Kayani has done enough for the moment. Americans are licking their wounds.
    And what do you expect from Karzai who is a traitor who used to live in Quetta and now spews venom against Pakistan? It’s his old habit to cry on American shoulders. Recommend

  • syed baqar ahsan
    Oct 20, 2011 - 4:18PM

    It will be shear waste of time if tone and attitude is same as before.American’s double game is the real problem generating the terrorism all around this region.Only quick exist will make terrorism rest in peace.


  • Wellwisher
    Oct 20, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Americans tremble when they hear anything about nuclear bomb. Now Gen Kayani reminded them that Pakistan is a nuclear power, they will think 100 times before stepping into Pakistan soil.


  • Az
    Oct 20, 2011 - 4:39PM

    ridiculous! American military couldn’t defeat few thousand untrained,ill equiped talibans in 10 years and yet they threaten pakistan


  • MarkH
    Oct 20, 2011 - 4:55PM

    @Diggvijay Singh:
    More unrealistic perception. I have to say though, your imagination is so impressive I’m surprised you haven’t come up with a way fix all the world’s problems. When I read that statement my exact reaction was cocking my head to the side, raising an eyebrow and then I grinned. That involuntary reaction, in the world of body language, is quite the opposite of concern. It’s curiosity leading to acknowledging peculiarity and ending with amusement. The statement was actually kind of cute. The only thing cuter was people not even realizing the statement contradicts recent claims by Kayani in terms of your own military’s ability when only compared to TTP and in terms of capabilities, TTP is ranked far below the US in combat ability.

    But, if believing your worthless nukes (you’d have to drop them on yourselves to hit your threats) and ego that is nothing but contradicted in history helps you sleep at night, have at it. The simple ones always have the most endearing outlook.


  • Imran
    Oct 20, 2011 - 5:32PM

    Its all written. Pakistan was given a choice to choose civilized world or the barbarians, and unfortunately it chose the latter. After the debacles of 1965, 1971, 1999, I’m not sure how its generals think they will fare any better this time.


  • Bingo
    Oct 20, 2011 - 5:38PM

    They won’t necessarily defeat Pakistan, but would bleed to death like they did to Afghans; if the US attacks our country.


  • Ghaznavi
    Oct 20, 2011 - 5:56PM

    US remains totally clueless in Afghanistan; they have no plan and are stuck so deep in the quicksand are desperately looking for any straw — thus making Pakistan a scape-goat for their defeat in Afghanistan; and looking at India to bail them out.

    Pakistan is doing well digging her heels and standing ground. The days of US are numbered here; we will have to manage the mess the leave on our own.


    Oct 20, 2011 - 5:59PM

    **Attention: President Hamid Karzai administration. I do want to make it clear that we are not experts on Afghanistan‘s internal ethnic conflicts. The goal of our team is to dissolve the elements that hold back democratic prosperity & the rule of law. I am requesting that your office hold an INTERNAL ETHNIC CONFLICTS RESOLUTION SUMMIT before and after the withdrawal of U.S and NATO forces. The summit is an open forum for the leaders or spokesman/woman of Hazaras,Tajiks,Uzbeks,Pashtuns,Durranis,Ghilazais and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan to address there groups concerns in a secured organized open forum to submit questions and concerns including oppression,injustice or limitations enforced or implemented by authorities local & state with no or very little over-site by the Karzai administration. The summits primary objective is to give all the ethnics groups a voice for solutions to a new,fair and balanced rule of law that does not ethnically or religiously profile members,seclude them or hold them back from the potential to advance locally or beyond on the states level. The secondary objective of the summit is a key factor in ethnic conflict resolution before they occur. The summit opens dialog for solutions! The internal ethnic conflict resolution summit should be held every year starting ASAP. Finally The Internal Ethnics Conflicts Resolution Summit will advance & grow into political parties that maintain bilateral dialog in the best interests of the people that vote them in thus creating an environment of checks and balances and a tolerable humane rule of law. This will take time and action by the parties & the stake holders is a MUST to implement this summit before releasing 400,000 Army & police security forces..If not security forces will splinter,corruption will spread & the Taliban move back!! I would also like to note the importance of not matching brigades or battalions commanders with the majority ethnic group in the new security forces. This shows the Afghan administration is objective & all ethnic groups are welcome with NO favor to any particular group thus creating equality among the security ethnic groups suppressing rogue or splinter potential. NSA5552


  • Cautious
    Oct 20, 2011 - 6:02PM

    I think the American’s are about to show Pakistan that they can readily count to ten. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Oct 20, 2011 - 6:31PM

    @Az “ridiculous! American military couldn’t defeat few thousand untrained,ill equiped talibans in 10 years and yet they threaten pakistan”
    You can’t hide your military bases, power grid, roads, air force etc – and you can’t retreat into your neighboring country and use their sovereignty as a shield. I would argue that the USA could reduce Pakistan back to the stone age with air power alone in a relatively short time – Musharraf must have thought so too.


  • Pundit
    Oct 20, 2011 - 6:41PM

    US economy may be in tatters, but there appetite for military force is certainly undiminished, in support of what they think is important….


  • Gul Bahadur
    Oct 20, 2011 - 6:49PM

    Who cares if another three million PAKHTUNS die,they are neither human being nor related to AMERICANS OR PAKISTAN ethnically or otherwise.


  • Mad-Paki
    Oct 20, 2011 - 6:52PM

    And why they havent cancelled this visit already? I mean there is a limit to everything. Are we still subjects of East India Company? I just dont understand why our rulers let them walk all over us. Are we that worthless that they can come here insult us and treat us like Madagascar? This cat and mouse game with US must stop. Recommend

  • Balma
    Oct 20, 2011 - 8:44PM

    Mad-Paki and other Indian and Pakistanis:
    Please read the following books:

    White Mughals
    The Last Mughal
    The Nawabs of Lucknow
    The Last Nizam
    Umrao Jan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa Baig (It is in Urdu and probably in Devnagri script, so I am sorry you burgers). Few statements from Umrao on the socio-political status of India around 1856 (fall of Lucknow) will be eye opening.
    [Of coruse did not get into politics of that time…and Ashweria roy? who casted her for the Urmao Jan rule? :-) ]

    Eeryone will be able to understand what is going on in Pakistan today once they understand the helplessness and cluelessness (if these are proper words?) of the rulers of India and princely states in late 1700s and early 1800s.Recommend

  • Nina Akbar
    Oct 20, 2011 - 8:47PM

    The situation that Pakistan has put it self is its own doing. This is a country of mixes ideologies
    Constantly ruled by dictators and killings being humiliated by the USA in finding and killing the most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in our own military complex all the while we screamed in denial. We ran to our friend China when USA was scolding us but China no fool in the world of politics and trying not to anger the USA gave us superficial support no more !
    We are a one stop training school for terrorist, we have a non existent tourist industry
    Why would any one in the world want to put themselves and their families in dangers while on holiday? Maybe instead if we had holiday/terror camps we can boost our tourist industry.
    Who is this hurting, the Pakistani economy big companies like Cisco, Apple, IBM, Microsoft and Google would like to invest in our talented men and women but the constant security risks is making this not happen. Our men and women are having problems going abroad for higher eduction and our exports are suffering while the rest of the world,moves forward we are stuck
    In our own sea of depression.


  • Oct 20, 2011 - 8:48PM

    Dear Secretary Clinton

    As it is all up with the United States in Afghanistan, the pressure by the United States has been cranked up on Pakistan to bend over backwards and launch a full-scale military offensive in the North Waziristan region to uproot alleged bases linked to the Haqqani network that Washington claims are fueling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan has taken a tougher stance with the U.S. lately by sending repeated messages to Washington that the country has already paid through the nose for America’s never-ending so called war on terror and refused to further stick out its neck to safeguard U.S. interests in the region.

    Apart from the people of Pakistan who widely believe that the United States has a track record of leaving Pakistan high and dry at the end of their adventures in the region, there has been a drastic change in the foreign policy of the government of Pakistan specific to the Americans.

    The military establishment of the country has gone cold turkey on accepting unreasonable demands by the United States and taken a firm stand against the threatening stance of the Americans.

    HAND in Islamabad


  • Explorer
    Oct 20, 2011 - 9:00PM

    Yes, but they are the only ones who used it till date!


  • M.Akthar
    Oct 20, 2011 - 9:23PM

    Its a Open Truth that the majority of population hate Americans and Love Taliban. Infact, the average man on the street wants Sharia`t imposed in Pakistan. By Protecting the Taliban by not attacking against American Wishes, the Pakistan Army has stood with the people of Pakistan.

    Therefore, you`ll see majority of comments supporting Pakistan Army. But am afraid, under pressure or favour, the Generals might give way like Musharraf did.


  • P N Eswaran
    Oct 20, 2011 - 9:30PM

    The Americans have realized after one decade who the real problem is. Leave the Afghans to their medievalism. By themselves they will create no problems to nations. It is Pakistan that has been instigating them. Deal with Pakistan as they should have been dealt with and the region will stabilize. Next turn to saudia Arabia, the rogue regime and there will be end to terrorism.Recommend

  • Menon
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:01PM


    What you don’t seem to understand is US, Russia, India, China and Iran are in ti together to establish peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan is alone in promoting the mullah culture again in Afghanistan to keep and enhance Pakistan’s strategic depth.

    Fundamental flaw in all your thinking is that you folks equate Russia and US Afghanistan alike. But, they are entirely different, nothing even close. Only Pakistan is trying to defeat the goal of the Internationl will and you think you are going to succeed.


  • operatinglion
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:02PM


    hahahaha 2011 good joke


  • Menon
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:07PM


    Don’t worry about the US economy in your little head. We are a resilient bunch and have overcome much larger adversities in our history.


  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:13PM

    @Nina Akbar:
    You are absolutely right in what you have written.It’s true word by word.We have flaws in our system.we have more weaknesses than strengths, what we have sown we are reaping.The irony is that the foundation of this country is based on culture not nationalism We gloat on our “rich cultural heritage” rather on being a proud nation who gained this country after many sacrifices.You cannot keep your head high along with other proud nations just organizing cultural shows round the world. The fact is that in an environment of feudal system, where only descendants of “lords ” have the right to be the next ruler the future of a theory- based country could be the same as you stated.Instead of making modern schools we gave Mullahs authorities to make all kinds of Madrasah. Madrasah is not an ineffective place and it has many importance in an Islamic country but if the government will have no check on it anything can grow there.and the result is before us.we enjoyed promoting more cultural shows than organizing literary programs.we spent less money on reforming education system and spent much in celebrating “topi’ days, and birth days and anniversaries of the leaders whom we worship more than what we have to.We have been selecting NAWABZADAS, PIRZADAS, SAHABZADAS, KHANZADAS, MAKHDOMZADAS CHOUDHRIES, SARDARS, and many others,to rule this country, instead of intellectuals from the middle class who knew the miseries and pain of common people, they rather ruined it, what did you expect from them? Where defenders of a country will always be stalking publicly selected leaders to snatch the reign this will be the plight of a country.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:44PM

    No More Clinton!


  • pardesi
    Oct 21, 2011 - 1:08PM

    @Balma:Indian here. I have read “Last Mughal” it was an eye opener. What a sad story. How our history was perverted by goras. We studied the idiotic British version of our history and are now at war with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.

    Today I think India is still overly influenced by West but starting to stand on its own feet. But our friends in Pakistan still seem lost. I would like for us to help them stand up as well instead of threatening them etc.


  • pardesi
    Oct 21, 2011 - 1:19PM

    @Nina Akbar: If your people can ever clean up your country I guarantee I will be the first to visit.

    I want to see Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, and of course Mehrgarh before I die.


  • Balma
    Oct 22, 2011 - 1:26AM

    My point in suggesting those books were that desis themselves were very stupid and therefore others took advantage of them. Just like you see the stupids in the ruling classes of PAkistan. I don’t even think that they are victims of circumstances as the last few Mughal rulers were. But, they are equally stupid.

    The best part (or the sadest) in Last Mughal is that the accompanying wife of BahadurShah Zafar is extremely happy at the murder of the heir (JanNasheen/ValiAhed) to the (fake) throne of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Well, this stupid woman didn’t realize that there was not going to be any throne anymore and therefore it was silly to be joyful at the saukan’s kid’s death! On top of that 20 year olds white trash of England were kicking BahadurShah Zafar and calling him pig. Same young goras now come to Paksitan and of all the people, Zardari, the president of Pakistan is dying to meet them. No sense of protocol or diplomatic norms. Itnee gir gayee hae Paksitani qaum. Othwise, a junior officer of Paksitan’s foreign ministry should meet a junior person of the US state dept.

    When you see the rulers of Pakistan and the army generals, that is what you see and I don’t think they are as weak as Bahadur Shah Zafar or the NAvabs of Lucknow or the Nizams were. But, these Paksitani leaders want to the pawns in the hands of oursiders.

    Pakistan and india both have this MaAuley created class that has indian (well, or Pakistani) blood but thinks of Whties as the best. Results are obvious. Rampant poverty in India and widespread hunger based suicides in Pakistan. Two jahil countries. I think they deserve each other.


  • Nina Akbar
    Oct 22, 2011 - 4:50AM

    @pardesi I would not hold my breath, please enjoy life to the fullest, inshallah before I die i would like India @ Pakistan to be at peace this constant bickering destroys the future of our children both countries have issues but our common ties are of a higher magnitude I wish people from both countries would see that.


  • pardesi
    Oct 22, 2011 - 6:31AM

    @balma: You might have focused on the Empress’s betrayal of the heir. And also the general idiocy of the rest of nobles. I was very impressed at how ordinary people from all over India (even places like Andhra) came to Delhi to defend the Emperor. BTW I hope Pakistanis reading this realize that the majority of people who died for Emperor were Hindus.

    I agree with what you have said about the Macauley-educated brown sahibs and sahibas in S Asia. Our new Empress is still an Italian memsahib but attitudes in India are changing. For example I don’t think the anti-corruption drive would have been successful if the sahibs had their way: they would have preferred to loot-maar as always.

    Have hope boss and don’t be so negative!


  • pardesi
    Oct 23, 2011 - 8:55AM

    @nina akbar. I am enjoying life Nina-ji thank you. Your hope is my hope also :-)


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