Pakistan must do more, Panetta declares
Nation must be more cooperative in battling local terrorist groups
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says that the nation of Pakistan
must be much more cooperative in defusing local terrorists groups there.
In particular, the Haqqani Network, believed to have ties to al-Qaeda,
remains an ongoing problem there as the U.S. troops and their allies
plan to leave the country shortly. Panetta spoke met in Kabul this week
with his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak.
Several attacks on Americans in nearby Afghanistan have been linked to the Haqqani Network. Last autumn's attack against the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul are believed to have been initiated by the group.
Panetta was at the Afghan capital to discuss the details of a U.S.-led troop reduction.
Several attacks on Americans in nearby Afghanistan have been linked to the Haqqani group. Last autumn's attack against the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul are believed to have been initiated by the group.
The Haqqani Network also has links to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"It is an increasing concern that the safe haven exists and that there are those likely Haqqanis who are making use of that to attack our forces," Panetta said.
In the meantime, lawmakers from both the republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. have urged the state department to designate the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization.
Abdul Rahim Wardak admits that Pakistan could also do more to eliminate the sanctuaries that fighters are using in Pakistan.
"I do hope that gradually they will come to the conclusion to cooperate with us . If that cooperation starts, we will be able to disrupt their command and control, disrupt their training, disrupt their weapon recruitment and also will be able to eliminate or capture their leadership," Wardak said.
Panetta is in Afghanistan to assess to discuss plans for the impending drawdown. It was Panetta's fourth trip to the war zone as defense secretary.
Panetta acknowledged the latest spike in hostilities in the area, and says that Taliban fighters appear to be much more organized. Panetta says that the overall level of violence was down.
He also said he wants to get an assessment of the situation from the top US commander, Marine General John Allen, and see how confident he is about NATO's ability to confront the threats both from the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
"I think it's important to make sure we are aware of the kind of attacks they're going to engage in ... as we go through the rest of the summer," Panetta told journalists.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Haqqani Network, Leon Panetta, troop drawdown, Afghanistan
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