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Taliban, Haqqani still enjoy safe havens in Pakistan: Pentagon

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Washington, Apr 13: Asserting that the Taliban and the Haqqani network still enjoy “safe havens in Pakistan”, a top US Army General today told the lawmakers that it was “very difficult” to contain insurgency in Afghanistan if Islamabad continues to harbour terrorists on its soil.

In his new South Asia Policy in August last year, President Donald Trump had called for tougher measures against Pakistan if it fails to cooperate with the US in its fight against terrorism.

The US also blocked about USD two billion in security assistance to Pakistan for its failure to act against terror groups operating from its soil and attacking US forces in Afghanistan.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee,  General Mark A Milley, Chief of Staff of the US Army, said to the end insurgency in Afghanistan, it was important to reduce the threat of terrorism something that can be handled on a routine basis by the internal security forces.

“It’s very, very difficult to eliminate any insurgency if that insurgency has safe haven in another country. But right now, the Taliban, the Haqqanis and other organisations do, in fact, enjoy some safe haven in the border regions on the Pakistani side of the border. Pakistan has got to be part of the solution,” told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

Gen. Milley said the role of Pakistan was key to the solution.

“It’s important that Pakistan is part of the solution. It’s a regional solution. Part of our strategy is a regional strategy. That very much involves Pakistan,” Milley said.

Responding to a question on reconciliation, he said the Afghan government was on the path right now to establish some sort of political reconciliation with various opponent groups. US is in support of that effort, Milley added.

“So it’s important that we realign the forces, that we reinforce the capabilities that we’re already doing, and that we regionalise the problem, including Pakistan, and that there’s some sort of reconciliation process. At the end of the day, that’s how that ends, and it ends successfully, and I believe that’s achievable,” the General said.

Milley said it was in the national security interest of the United States to maintain troops in Afghanistan.

One of the American objectives since 2001 has been that Afghanistan no longer was a platform for terrorists to conduct strikes on the continental United States, or in the United States, he said.

“That’s key. That’s why we’re there, and that’s why we’re still there,” he said, adding that this can be achieved through a stable Afghanistan.

Milley hoped that the Afghan army, the police, the intelligence forces could handle the violent threat against the Afghan government.

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