'Pak needs to do more to close terrorist safe havens'

'Pak needs to do more to close terrorist safe havens'

“There is always more to do and we are encouraging Pakistan to do everything possible to deal with the safe havens, which will also play a big role in bringing peace to Afghanistan,” he told reporters in New Delhi. Grossman is on his first visit to India after being appointed the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He succeeded Richard Holbrooke after the latter’s death in December 2010.

The American envoy is in New Delhi at a time when Washington’s troubled ties with Islamabad worsened with Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, going on record to accuse the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of having a long-standing relation with Haqqani Network, a terrorist group, which is closely allied to the Taliban and operate along the Pak-Afghan border.

Mullen’s remark triggered a diplomatic row between Washington and Islamabad.
Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani refuted Mullen’s allegation. But the US does not appear to be in a mood to rollback or soften its allegations against the ISI to placate Pakistan.

“I have nothing to add or to subtract to whatever Mullen has already said,” said Grossman, after meeting Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao here on Friday.

He, however, said: “We do a huge amount of work with Pakistan in countering terrorism and extremism and that’s what we will continue doing.”

Grossman, who also met National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon during his stay in New Delhi, will visit Kabul and Islamabad during his tour to the region.

Rao and Menon are believed to have conveyed to Grossman India’s concerns over Islamabad’s move to formally embed the Pakistani Army and the ISI in the peace-process with Taliban in Afghanistan.

The US envoy said that he discussed with Rao the Indo-US global partnership, its future and their joint projects in Afghanistan, as agreed upon by New Delhi and Washington during United States President Barack Obama’s India visit in November 2010.
“We have a lot of work to do together in Afghanistan and some of that work is very important,” he said.

During a recent visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to Afghanistan, Islamabad and Kabul formally agreed to set up a two-tier Pak-Afghan Joint Peace Commission, which will have the top officials of the two countries’ military establishments, including the chiefs of the intelligence agencies.

Grossman’s call for the Pakistani Army to do more to deal with the safe havens appeared to be in line with the Washington’s effort to step up pressure on Islamabad to carry out military operations in the militant strongholds of North Waziristan.

Islamabad has so far been reluctant to launch an offensive in the area, which the US suspects to be a safe haven for the al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.