RAWALPINDI: Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) Commander General John Allen met Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday to discuss prospects for greater Pak-Afghan border coordination as well as the contentious issue of cross-border attacks carried out by militants. Sources say the two officers sparred over the Haqqani group, Nato supplies and cross-border raids into Pakistan.
General John Allen, who commands more than 130,000 Nato troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, flew into Chaklala air base amid strained relations between Islamabad and Washington and went straight into the talks with General Kayani at the latter’s Rawalpindi headquarters, before jetting out of the country, officials said. While there was no immediate comment from Isaf, a Pakistani official disclosed that General Kayani had demanded greater efforts from the Americans to stop cross-border incursions.
According to sources, the army chief told General Allen that militants returned to Afghanistan and roamed freely in the war-torn country after launching attacks on Pakistani forces. He further asked the Nato general to take action against the Maulvi Fazlullah-led branch of militants.
General John Allen, meanwhile, insisted that Pakistan tackle the Haqqani group. He argued that Maulvi Fazlullah was involved in terrorist activities in Afghanistan and was operating from Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The two commanders also discussed the possible option of carrying out a military operation in North Waziristan against so-called terror training camps. “It was a routine meeting to discuss border co-ordination,” a senior Pakistani military official told reporters. “We also raised the issue of cross-border attacks on the Pakistan military from Afghanistan. We demanded that Isaf take action against militant sanctuaries in Afghanistan and eliminate the militant groups involved in cross-border attacks inside Pakistan,” he added.
Pakistan said around 100 Afghan-based militants had crossed the border into the northwestern district of Upper Dir on Sunday. Six soldiers were killed and 11 went missing.However, both the Afghans and the Americans have repeatedly blamed Pakistan for not doing more to eliminate havens on its soil, which are used as launch pads for attacks across the border. Last Friday, Allen blamed the Pakistan-based Haqqani network for a siege on a lakeside hotel in Kabul that killed 18 people. Earlier this month, US Defence
Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington was running out of patience with Pakistan over militant havens.On Tuesday, officials and witnesses in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar also said that thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes to escape a barrage of cross-border artillery and rocket attacks from Pakistan.
It is also likely that General Allen and General Kayani discussed Pakistan’s seven-month blockade on overland Nato supplies into Afghanistan after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border on November 26. Talks to reopen the border have so far reached stalemate over Pakistan’s demand for a formal apology.