US asks Pak army chief to act against Haqqani Network, others

Washington, Nov 18: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has pressed Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif to act against groups like the Haqqani Network that threaten America and its forces operating in Afghanistan, as he raised concern over terrorists operating from the country's soil.

"The (Defence) Secretary made clear that the US feels strongly about the need to go after groups like the Haqqani Network that threaten the United States, threaten, certainly, US forces operating in Afghanistan," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters yesterday.

Raheel Sharif

The issue was discussed during a meeting between Gen Sharif and Secretary Carter, who talked about the need to tackle Haqqani network and other groups that pose a threat not only to Afghanistan, but to Pakistan itself, he said.

"They discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and how there continues to be issues along the border, and what can be done on the Pakistani side of the border as well as within Afghanistan to try and foster a more stable situation because it'd be in the interest of both countries," Cook said.

Formed 30 years ago, the Haqqani network is militarily the most capable and most dangerous of the Taliban factions. The network, which is linked to the al-Qaeda, has also been blamed for several deadly attacks against Western and Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that left 58 people dead.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford also joined Carter in his meeting with Sharif. They discussed mutual security interests, including security cooperation between the two countries, Pakistani counter-terrorism operations in the federally administered tribal areas and regional security dynamics.

Significantly, Gen Sharif is visiting the US on his own as there was no official invitation either from his American counterpart or the Pentagon. Gen Dunford had a separate discussion with Gen Sharif, and Gen Lloyd Austin, Commander of the US Central Command.

"They talked about the US-Pakistan relationship, the military relationship going forward and the relationship our two countries have and our shared interest in seeing regional security in the region and obviously dealing with the terrorism threat not only in Pakistan but also in neighbouring Afghanistan and why continued cooperation is so vital in that," Cook said.


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