Pakistan snubs US on action against Haqqani network

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New York, Dec.15 (ANI): Hours after the United States urged Pakistan to step up action on top Afghan Taliban commander Siraj Haqqani and his network, Islamabad has rebuffed Washington's demands as Pakistani officials believe that doing so is contrary to its interests in Afghanistan.

US Central Command Chief General David Petraeus, who is currently in Islamabad, reiterated Washington's demands of taking on the Haqqani network, a long time 'asset' of Pakistan's spy agency (ISI) which uses the tribal area of North Waziristan as its sanctuary.

However, Pakistani officials and diplomats said doing so was beyond the date set by President Obama for pulling out from Afghanistan, and also beyond its interests in the region.

Pakistan's snub clearly indicates that the rift between Islamabad and the White House has widened.

General Petraeus, during his latest talks with the Pakistani leadership stressed that it must act against the strongest Taliban commander (Haqqani) failing which would force the US to resort to broader and more frequent drone strikes in the lawless tribal region of the country.

A Pakistani official, who is privy to the top-level deliberations, said that America's relentless demands have in fact started angering the leadership.

"It is really beginning to irk and anger us," The New York Times quoted the official, as saying.

According to a Pakistani official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Islamabad sees Haqqani and his control of large areas of Afghan territory vital to Pakistan in the jostling for influence that will pit Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Iran against one another in the post-American Afghan scenario.

Former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Tariq Fatemi, said Islamabad is worried about New Delhi's growing influence in Afghanistan.

"If America walks away, Pakistan is very worried that it will have India on its eastern border and India on its western border in Afghanistan," said Fatemi.

And for this reason particular reason, the Pakistan Army is reluctant to take action against Haqqani.

"Moreover, the Pakistanis do not want to alienate Haqqani because they consider him an important player in reconciliation efforts that they would like to see get under way in Afghanistan immediately," Pakistani officials added. (ANI)

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