Obama's blunt warning forced Pak to go after Afghan Taliban

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Karachi, Feb.19 (ANI): A blunt warning sent by US President Barack Obama in November last year prompted Pakistan to go after the Afghan Taliban leadership, and is being cited as the turning point in the strategic relationship between the two countries.

According to the Washington Post, Obama's letter was hand-delivered by US National Security Adviser James L. Jones with an offer of additional military and economic assistance and help to ease tensions with India.

Obama said in his letter that Washington would no longer tolerate Pakistan's use of insurgent groups to pursue its policy goals.

The letter's delivery followed the completion of a White House strategy review in which the administration concluded that stepped-up efforts in Afghanistan would not succeed without improved cooperation from Pakistan.

The recent capture of senior Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan represents the culmination of months of pressure put on Islamabad by the Obama administration to side with the United States as its troops wage war in Afghanistan.

The detentions, which have taken place in a wave since early last week, were initially kept secret to allow intelligence operatives to use information gleaned from captures to draw additional militants into exposing their locations and movements, according to officials who discussed the ongoing operations on the condition of anonymity.

A final agreement on the Karachi operation came during the last week of January, with the intercept system up and running by the first week of February.

"The ISI and the CIA are working together, with the Americans providing actionable intelligence and the Pakistanis acting together with them" to track down the insurgent leaders, a Pakistani official said, referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

The arrests offer stark evidence of something that has long been suspected: Top Afghan Taliban leaders have found refuge across Pakistan, particularly in its cities-a fact the government here has long denied.

Pakistan's agreement last month to allow expanded CIA interception operations follows a long period of estrangement between the U.S. intelligence agency and the ISI.

Observers in Pakistan say the shift will facilitate the nation's desire to drive any political negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which it views as an opportunity that could end the war and place a friendly regime next door.

"It is definitely part of a strategy-one that will eventually lead to negotiations and talks and the introduction of the Taliban into the mainstream of Afghan politics in a government which has been agreed upon by Pakistan," said Hussain, the retired brigadier.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi insisted Thursday that fear of "Talibanization" in Pakistan, not U.S. pressure, drove the arrests. (ANI)

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