US pressure must end

Posted on September 30, 2011

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Says Pak PM; Haqqani militants black listed

The United States must stop blaming Islamabad for regional instability, Pakistan’s prime minister told a gathering of the country’s political leaders yesterday, as Washington stepped up pressure on the South Asian nation to tackle militancy.

“The blame game should end, and Pakistan’s sensitive national interests should be respected,” Yusuf Raza Gilani said in comments carried live on local television stations.

Meanwhile, the US Treasury hit a “key” commander in the powerful Haqqani network with sanctions yesterday raising pressure on Pakistan .

The Treasury said Abdul Aziz Abbasin, an Afghan native, was appointed by the Pakistan-based Haqqani group as “the Taliban shadow governor” in Orgun district of Afghanistan, aiding the fight against Nato coalition forces in the country.

It said Abbasin commands a group of Taliban fighters and has helped run a militant training camp.

US officials have linked the Haqqani group to a recent attack on the US embassy in Kabul, a truck bombing on a Nato outpost and a June attack on Kabul’s InterContinental hotel.

Washington is currently weighing designating the network as a foreign terrorist organization, a US official said Monday.

Four other figures with links to Taliban and al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan were also named yesterday’s sanctions, which aim at putting pressure on financial links to the groups.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen directly accused Pakistan’s intelligence service on Thursday of supporting the Haqqani network’s attack on the US embassy in Kabul, a truck bombing on a Nato outpost and a June attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental hotel.

“American statements shocked us, and negate our sacrifices and successes in the ongoing war against terror,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a rare Pakistani cross-party conference designed to forge a united front.

American officials want Pakistan to launch an offensive against the Haqqanis, but the military says it is too over-stretched fighting local Taliban to open a new front against a US enemy that does not pose a threat to Pakistan.

“Pakistan cannot be pressurised to do more,” Gilani said. “Our doors are open for dialogue (with the international community),” he added.

“Our national interests should be respected in all circumstances. From our side, all doors for negotiations are open. We desire the international community’s cooperation.”

But support is growing in the US Congress for expanding American military action in Pakistan beyond the drone strikes that already target militants, a senior Republican senator said.

Islamabad, which has received billions of dollars of US aid despite its reluctance to go after the Haqqani network, faces the most intense pressure to tackle militancy since it joined the US “war on terror” a decade ago.

Pakistan’s military faced withering public criticism after the United States’ unilateral raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Laden in a Pakistani garrison town in May.

A similar US operation against militant leaders in North Waziristan on the Afghan border, where American officials say the Haqqanis are based, would be another humiliation for the powerful military.

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Posted in: World