Pakistan fighting Taliban for its own sake: Haqqani

LITTLE ROCK: US military action in Pakistan against Taliban fighters will destabilise a nation that now wants to fight the war ‘for our own sake,’ the nation’s ambassador to the US said on Wednesday.

Husani Haqqani warned against combat troops coming across the border from Afghanistan to seek out insurgent fighters fleeing into Pakistan. He said the country’s military, as well as its intelligence service, could seek those fighters out on their own.

‘Instead of foreign troops coming into Pakistan and thereby creating a new problem of resistance to foreigners, Pakistan will deal with all possible targets that are related to international terrorism,’ Haqqani said.

Husani Haqqani warned against combat troops coming across the border from Afghanistan to seek out insurgent fighters fleeing into Pakistan. He said the country’s military, as well as its intelligence service, could seek those fighters out on their own.

‘Instead of foreign troops coming into Pakistan and thereby creating a new problem of resistance to foreigners, Pakistan will deal with all possible targets that are related to international terrorism,’ Haqqani said.

He made the comments during a speech on Wednesday at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.

Haqqani pointed to recent fighting in the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani army waged a three-month offensive against the Taliban. Some 2 million people fled the region.

Although hundreds of thousands have returned in the past two weeks as the military operation winds down, sporadic fighting continues.

Those who fled chose to escape the possibility of becoming ‘human shields’ for the Taliban fighters, Haqqani said.

That fighting, as well as the return of civilian rule to the country, shows Pakistan can target extremists on its own.

‘We have now decided we will fight this war for our sake,’ he said.

After the speech, Haqqani declined to answer a question on whether Pakistan would allow US drone aircraft to fly across its borders looking for Taliban fighters. Though many analysts suspect the two countries have a secret deal allowing the drone-fired missiles, Pakistan formally protests the assaults, saying they violate its sovereignty and stir anger among tribes in affected areas.

Haqqani also said the ascension of President Asif Ali Zardari meant better cooperation by Pakistani intelligence services with the US Previously, US officials have complained that some in the intelligence services had sympathies for the Taliban fighters.

‘The ground realities have changed incredibly since the restoration of democracy last year,’ Haqqani said.

The ambassador praised an Obama administration promise of $1.5 billion in civilian aid a year, saying American investment would help young men make ‘boxer shorts for Wal-Mart rather than improvised explosive devices for the Taliban.’ He also said military leaders wouldn’t interfere with the country’s civilian government, long a problem since the country’s creation in 1947.

‘This time, Pakistan intends to complete the transformation to democracy,’ Haqqani said.

‘Our military as an institution has also decided … instead of coup d’etat, they will allow the democratic process to move forward.’

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