Terrorist safe havens in Pak poses serious problem: US general

A top US general has said it is difficult to destroy the “enemy” in Afghanistan if terror groups like the Haqqani network and Taliban have sanctuaries in Pakistan.

“When an enemy enjoys sanctuary like that, it’s very difficult to defeat them,” General John “Mick” Nicholson, who has been nominated by the Pentagon as Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, during confirmation hearing yesterday.

Nicholson said he views the terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan as a serious problem.

“This (terrorist safe havens) has been one of the principal challenges. It’s a sanctuary that our enemies, in particular the Haqqani Network, have enjoyed inside Pakistan,” he said responding to a question from Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Committee.

Critical of the Af-Pak policy of the Obama Administration, McCain also demanded an immediately halt to US troop withdrawals and eliminate any target date for withdrawal.

Responding to the question, Nicholson said it is difficult to defeat the Taliban and Haqqani network when they enjoy terrorist safe haven, and as such, it is important to “enlist” Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

“In this case, Pakistan, to go after those sanctuaries, and then the other important piece is to build up the defence capacity of the Afghans so that they can keep that level of violence down to a manageable level,” the general said.

Earlier, in a written response to questions, Nicholson asked Pakistan to take persistent action against the Taliban, particularly the Haqqani Network.

“Pakistan’s pressure on the Taliban combined with its support to the reconciliation process are mutually reinforcing,” he added.

Haqqani network, which is linked to 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.