Panetta, Mullen to Pressure Pakistan on Terrorism

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2011 — Although not yet will­ing to blame the Haqqani net­work for assas­si­nat­ing the for­mer Afghan pres­i­dent, Pen­ta­gon lead­ers empha­sized today that they will con­tin­ue to pres­sure Pak­istan to keep insur­gents there from spilling into Afghanistan.

“Our biggest con­cern right now is to put as much pres­sure as pos­si­ble on the Pak­ista­nis to exer­cise con­trol from their side of the bor­der,” Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon news brief­ing with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

“We have con­tin­ued to state that this can­not hap­pen. We can­not have the Haqqa­nis com­ing across the bor­der attack­ing our forces and [Afghans] and dis­ap­pear­ing back into a safe haven,” the sec­re­tary said. “That is not tol­er­a­ble, and we have urged them to take steps.” 

Panet­ta declined to dis­cuss spe­cif­ic strate­gies, includ­ing whether the Unit­ed States would con­sid­er uni­lat­er­al action. He did say, how­ev­er, “We are going to take what­ev­er steps are nec­es­sary to pro­tect our forces.” 

It’s in the best inter­est of the Pak­ista­nis to deal with ter­ror­ists with­in their bor­ders, he said. 

“Frankly, ter­ror­ism is as much a threat for them as it is for us,” he said. “And we keep telling them you can’t choose among ter­ror­ists. If you are against ter­ror­ism, you have to be against all forms of ter­ror­ism. And that is some­thing we just have to con­tin­ue to stress.” 

Mullen said he made clear dur­ing his meet­ing last week with Pak­istani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ash­faq Parvez Kayani that Pak­istan needs to do more. Among issues he raised were the Haqqa­nis’ proxy ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Ser­vice Intel­li­gence agency and their role in killing coali­tion troops and Afghans in Afghanistan. 

“It was the heart of the dis­cus­sion,” Mullen report­ed, empha­siz­ing that this activ­i­ty “has to stop.” 

“That is not a new mes­sage, but it is one that [Kayani] clear­ly under­stands,” Mullen said. “And I think it is one we have to keep reiterating.” 

Mullen cred­it­ed the strong rela­tion­ship he and Kayani have built with help­ing them work through dif­fi­cult peri­ods between their two coun­tries. “It is going to go up and down,” he said of the U.S.-Pakistan rela­tion­ship. “We have had a very tough patch here over the last sev­er­al months.” 

Based on cur­rent infor­ma­tion, Mullen said he can­not con­firm that the Haqqa­nis were behind the death of Burhanud­din Rab­bani, the senior Afghan offi­cial in charge of nego­ti­at­ing with the Tal­iban. Panet­ta called the killing of Rab­bani, report­ed­ly by a sui­cide bomber who hid explo­sives in his tur­ban, a blow to the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and rein­te­gra­tion process in Afghanistan. 

“I regret his loss. I think he was play­ing an impor­tant role,” Panet­ta said. “I am hope­ful that we will be able to work with oth­ers to try to con­tin­ue the efforts that he was engaged in.” 

The assas­si­na­tion was among oth­er recent high-pro­file attacks that Mullen said reflect an appar­ent shift in the Taliban’s over­all strategy. 

“They have not suc­ceed­ed on the ground this year. Their cam­paign has failed in that regard,” he said, caus­ing them to resort to high-pro­file attacks. 

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. and NATO com­man­der in Afghanistan, described last week’s Haqqani attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kab­ul an oper­a­tional fail­ure. Mullen acknowl­edged, how­ev­er, that it had strate­gic significance. 

“So we take it very seri­ous­ly as a part of the cam­paign,” he said. “We know that this is what the Tal­iban is doing, and we have got to adjust and we are doing that.” 

Panet­ta said the coali­tion is work­ing with the Afghans to dis­cuss ways to bet­ter pro­tect against future attacks. But the Taliban’s change of strat­e­gy, he added, shows that its lead­ers real­ize they are los­ing ground in Afghanistan. 

“The bot­tom line still remains that that we are mov­ing in the right direc­tion,” Panet­ta said. “We have made progress against the Tal­iban, but we can’t let some of these spo­radic events deter us from the progress that we are making.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →