WASHINGTON - A senior Pakistan official has said that US forces in Afghanistan and their Afghans partners have failed to intercept Taliban and other militants fleeing across the border from an ongoing Pakistani military offensive.
“Please do not permit these people to disappear,” the official, in Washington for talks with the Obama administration, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. “Take them out. Eliminate them. There should be a hammer and anvil,” the official said, but the “Pakistan hammer saw no evidence of the anvil on the other side.”
The complaint came as US forces have been withdrawn from positions near the border in eastern Afghanistan and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan are still solidifying their positions there, the newspaper said in a dispatch.
Administration officials and skeptical lawmakers, while supporting the offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan, have questioned whether Pakistan’s campaign to rout militants in the region includes members of the Haqqani network, the Afghan Taliban-allied group that has been responsible for numerous cross-border attacks on US forces.
US lawmakers have included a restriction on funds to Pakistan in the fiscal 2015 defense budget unless Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel certifies that Pakistani military operations “have significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network.”
The Pakistani official said that no militant group will be immune from the offensive, which began a month ago with extensive airstrikes and is continuing with about 150,000 ground troops. The government has evacuated hundreds of thousands of civilians from the region.
“How can you carry out a military operation that is costing the lives of hundreds of soldiers and officers, and costing us hundreds of millions of dollars, and for us to let any one particular group escape?” he said. “Everyone has to be taken out.”“If there are any militants that are found fleeing into Afghanistan, we would love to see them taken out by the US, ISAF [the US-led international force] and Afghan forces,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
US and Pakistani officials agree that relations between them have much improved since Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister last year, The Post said. Pakistan launched the offensive, encouraged by the United States, after Sharif tried peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban that failed to produce any result.
US WANTS PAKISTAN, INDIA TO WORK TOGETHER: SPOKESPERSON
Pakistan and India should work together to improve their relationship, the United States has said, as the two South Asian countries prepare for next month’s foreign secretaries-level meeting.
“We’ve obviously repeatedly said that we believe India and Pakistan should work together to improve their relationship and we would welcome steps towards that end,” Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department Marie Harf told the daily press briefing while answering a question about August 25 meeting.
“It’s really up for them to work-on together,” she told reporters.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart Sujatha Singh are to discuss resumption of the stalled bilateral dialogue on all outstanding issues between the two countries.
An understanding about the meeting was reached during the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi in May to attend the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.