Afghanistan’s national security adviser has called on the Pakistani government to “take serious measures” against Islamist groups launching attacks on Afghan targets from safe havens inside Pakistan.
Rangin Dadfar Spanta was speaking a week after the al-Jazeera TV network said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had met the man who runs the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network in talks mediated by Pakistan. Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban have all denied any such meeting took place.
Spanta’s comments signal an about-turn by the Afghan government after months of overtures to Islamabad in an effort to prompt Pakistan into dealing with militant groups, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban based along the Afghan border.
Spanta said on Monday that Afghanistan had “tremendous evidence” that Pakistani authorities allowed al-Qaida and other terror organizations to operate on the country’s soil and had presented it to Islamabad “many times.”
“My expectation is that Pakistan after nine years — because theoretically Pakistan is part of the anti-terror alliance — they have to begin to take some serious measures against terrorism,” he said.
“They have to hand over the leadership of the terrorist groups, they have to give a list of the people they have arrested and are holding in the detention centers in Pakistan,” he said.
Afghan officials have blamed a number of attacks on Pakistani-based groups whom they say are supported by Pakistan’s intelligence service and military.
Karzai had been seen as trying to reach an arrangement with Pakistan — possibly including a power-sharing deal with the Taliban — that would help bring an end to the war in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the ranking Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee said NATO and Afghan troops will prevail in the war if they can succeed in securing and bolstering governance in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
Senator John McCain, who visited Afghanistan on Monday with two other US lawmakers, warned of tough fighting ahead.
“The Taliban know that Kandahar is the key to success or failure,” McCain told a news conference in Kabul. “So what happens in this operation will have a great effect on the outcome of this conflict. But I am convinced we can succeed.”
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