By Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) - U.S. Secretary of States Hillary Clinton has left Islamabad at the conclusion of her two- day trip but has delivered a message of urgency for the Pakistani civil and military leadership to act against the groups, blamed for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
"So we had a very in-depth conversation with specifics, and we are looking forward to taking that conversation and operationalizing it over the next days and weeks not months and years, but days and weeks because we have a lot of work to do to realize our shared goals," Clinton told reporters in Islamabad on Friday after her talks with Pakistani leaders. She, however, agreed with Pakistan's quest to give a chance to peace.
"Now we have to turn our attention to the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani, and other terrorist groups, and try to get them into a peace process, but if that fails, prevent them from committing more violence and murdering more innocent people," Clinton said when she spoke to reporters along with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
It was the second visit to Pakistan by Hillary Clinton in five months in tense environment. She had visited Pakistan in late May just weeks after the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden in an unilateral action in the city of Abbotabad. Pakistanis had been angry at the U.S. military's May 2 action and she flew into Islamabad to pacify them. Pakistan had condemned the U.S. attack and had described it as violation of its sovereignty.
Clinton again paid a two-day Oct. 20-21 visit as senior U.S. military officials recently publicly accused Pakistan's spy agency of having links with the armed Afghan insurgents, including the Haqqani network. They also said that the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, helped the Haqqani network in attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Sept. 13 and the huge truck bomb strike at the major U.S. military base at Wardak province of Afghanistan on Sept. 11. A total of 77 U.S. soldiers had been injured in the attack, coincided with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 attacks. Pakistan had dismissed the charges of helping the Haqqanis as irresponsible.
The relationship further soured when top U.S. officials threatened unilateral action against the Haqqani network and other Pakistan-based armed groups. The U.S. threats were taken very seriously in Pakistan and nearly 60 top political and religious leaders met at an emergency conference and threw weight behind the security forces to counter any U.S. ground offensive. Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani warned at a recent rare briefing to the members of parliament at the army headquarters that the United States will think 10 times before launching ground offensive in Pakistan.
Officials believe that hot verbal exchanges between the U.S. and Pakistani military leaders prompted Clinton's visit to Pakistan, which had not been officially announced by Pakistan and the United States until her arrival and even the U.S. embassy had denied the visit when section of Pakistani media had reported the visit.
Before Clinton landed in Islamabad, the U.S. administration, as per its traditions, told the mainstream American media that the Secretary of State will deliver a tough message to Pakistani leaders on militant groups. And when Clinton met Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, a U.S. daily said that she conveyed her tough message. She had also stated herself in Kabul, a day ahead of Islamabad arrival, that she would have a hard message for Pakistan to act against the militants.
Clinton was right to say in Kabul as she proved it in Islamabad and gave a warning that Pakistan must act in "days or weeks" against the Taliban and Haqqanis. The statement shows that the United States is frustrated at failure of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan to deal with Taliban in ten years. Pakistani analysts believe that the United States, as a policy, has to blame others for its failure in Afghanistan and it has Pakistan to use it as a scapegoat when withdrawal of the U.S. troops has already started.
The United States needs Pakistan in both cases in any possible dialogue with Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network and for any military action in its border regions against the militants who are thought to be crossing into Afghanistan for attacks. Pakistan, using its influence on militant groups, has already arranged talks between the U.S. officials and members of the Haqqani network a few months ago. That process had not yielded any results as both did not show any softness.
Clinton admitted that talks had been held with Haqqanis through Pakistan. Chief of Haqqani network Siraj Haqqani has also admitted contacts with the United States and other countries in recent interview. So if the United States requires Pakistan's help for military action or dialogue, it's better, as Pakistan would expect, to stop public accusations against security institutions and also look at Islamabad's legitimate interests in Afghanistan.