Pressure from Pakistan will make Afghan Taliban talk: Clinton


NEW YORK – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said it was “no secret that we have not always seen eye-to-eye with Pakistan.” Pressure from the Pakistani side will help push the Taliban (Afghan) towards the negotiating table and away from al Qaeda,” she said in her speech at the Asia Society.
She also warned Pakistan that it risked major instability and hampering the war effort in Afghanistan unless it implemented broad reforms and stops fomenting anti-American sentiment. Clinton termed Pakistani cooperation as critical to the success of the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda extremists in Afghanistan.
She expressed the hope that US-led military efforts would split the Taliban from al Qaeda in Afghanistan, laying the groundwork for a lasting political settlement, and reaffirmed the US plans to start reducing troops in July and complete the drawdown by the end of 2014 as Afghans take charge of their war-torn country.
Pakistan and India: Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he was worried about the future of Pakistan, fearing that terrorist groups might try to provoke a conflict between India and Pakistan to destabilise the country. “I worry a lot about Pakistan. It has huge economic problems… They have a serious internal terrorism threat that is seeking to destabilise Pakistan itself,” he said at a hearing of a Senate committee on Thursday.
“And I worry that some of those terrorists might try and provoke a conflict between Pakistan and India,” Gates said adding, “I think that there’s a lot to be concerned about with Pakistan.” Noting that terrorist sanctuaries still exist in Pakistan, Gates praised Islamabad for moving troops from its border with India towards the Afghanistan border. “The Pakistanis have 140,000 troops on that border. These things improve step by step, not as quickly as we would like, but we get to a better place over time,” he said.
“If you’d asked me two years ago if the Pakistanis would withdraw six divisions from the Indian border and put them in the west, I would have said impossible. “If you would have asked me if we would begin coordinating operations on both sides of the border with Afghan and ISAF forces on the one side, and the Pakistanis on the other, I would have said that’s very unlikely,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen suggested that Washington should take steps to ensure better ties between India and Pakistan to ease the environment of mistrust and animosity between the neighbouring countries.
“In terms of our broader engagement with Pakistan and the region, reducing some of the long-standing enmity and mistrust between India and Pakistan would greatly contribute to our efforts,” Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee.