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Pakistan’s “Temoporary Campsite” at Center of NATO Border Post Attack Controversy

A partial screen-cap of the Express Tribune website on Friday, showing protesters and dominance of the news by the NATO attack.

The barrage of claims and counter-claims on what took place early Saturday morning just inside the Pakistani side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border continues at a rapid pace. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published an article in which the US military claimed that Pakistan had given clearance for the attack. Despite the Journal claiming they were unable to get a response from Islamabad for the article, responses from Pakistan did not take long, and Pakistan claims that NATO did not contact Pakistan until after the raid was in progress and that incorrect location information was given in the first contact.

Citing only “US officials” and not giving any names, the Journal describes the joint US-Afghan commando operation that night as hunting Taliban militants in the border area when they came under fire:

The commandos thought they were being fired upon by militants. But the assailants turned out to be Pakistani military personnel who had established a temporary campsite, U.S. officials said.

According to the initial U.S. account from the field, the commandos requested airstrikes against the encampment, prompting the team to contact a joint border-control center to determine whether Pakistani forces were in the area, a U.S. official said.

The border-control center is manned by U.S., Afghan and Pakistani representatives who are supposed to share information and head off conflicts. But the U.S. and Afghan forces conducting the Nov. 26 commando operation hadn’t notified the center in advance that they planned to strike Taliban insurgents near that part of the border, the official said.

When called, the Pakistani representatives at the center said there were no Pakistani military forces in the area identified by the commandos, clearing the way for the Americans to conduct the airstrikes, the U.S. officials said.

Despite the Journal claiming that they could not get a response from Islamabad on this information, the Express-Tribune carries this response in a Reuters story: Read more

Border Post Attack Fallout Continues: No Obama Apology; Pakistan Threatens WOT Role

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BSoEeLgnm0[/youtube]

Pakistan and the US continue to provide widely differing accounts of the NATO attack on two border posts just inside the Pakistan border that killed 24 Pakistani troops early Saturday morning. Although both sides have adjusted their stories somewhat in the intervening time, the US still claims that NATO forces were under fire from across the border and Pakistan insists the attack was unprovoked.

Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations released a video of the aftermath of the attack. More description of the video is provided by Dawn, but the presence of the large, established buildings at the peak of the mountain ridge fits with this description quoted in my post from Wednesday:

“This was a visible, well-made post, on top of ridges, made of concrete. Militants don’t operate from mountaintops, from concrete structures.”

Meanwhile, as MadDog pointed out, the New York Times reports that the Obama administration has decided not to have the President issue a formal apology:

On Monday, Cameron Munter, the United States ambassador to Pakistan, told a group of White House officials that a formal video statement from Mr. Obama was needed to help prevent the rapidly deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington from cratering, administration officials said. The ambassador, speaking by videoconference from Islamabad, said that anger in Pakistan had reached a fever pitch, and that the United States needed to move to defuse it as quickly as possible, the officials recounted.

Defense Department officials balked. While they did not deny some American culpability in the episode, they said expressions of remorse offered by senior department officials and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were enough, at least until the completion of a United States military investigation establishing what went wrong. Read more

Fallout From NATO Attack on Pakistani Border Posts Continues: Afghanistan At Center of Conflict

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXKtehgB-Cw[/youtube]

While a great deal of the attention on the effects of Saturday’s NATO attack on two (or three) Pakistani border posts that killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers centers on US-Pakistan relations, the importance of these developments on relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan should not be overlooked. Most reports on the incident suggest that Afghan soldiers in the border region were responsible for calling in the air attack.  While NATO and Afghan accounts claim that the Afghan forces were under fire from the Pakistani border outposts, the Pakistani military insists that the attacks were unprovoked. It should be noted that an Afghan group of investigators had arrived in Islamabad on Thursday before the incident on Saturday. This group was in Pakistan to investigate Pakistani ties to the militant group that killed former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani on September 20 when he was starting peace talks with the Taliban.

The Attack

The Washington Post account of the attack has this key passage on the background situation:

The poorly patrolled and ill-marked border is the central sore point in Pakistan’s relations with both the United States and Afghanistan. American military officials say al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban fighters live on the Pakistani side and cross the border to attack U.S. troops — with the knowledge of and help from Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan says the homegrown militants its army is fighting in the restive tribal areas can easily find refuge ineastern Afghanistan, which borders Mohmand, and that CIA drone strikes in the region inspire militants.

The Saturday airstrike came one day after [Commander of US forces General John] Allen met with [Pakistan’s Army head General Ashfaq] Kayani to discuss border security.

That Friday meeting between Allen and Kayani certainly makes the subsequent events on Saturday hard to understand. Only one day after discussing border security at the highest levels, we see a massive communications breakdown at a critical moment:

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a Pakistani military spokesman, stopped short of that characterization [describing the attack as a US offensive action], but he said the strike was “inexplicable.” In an interview, he said the two border posts are clearly marked and their locations are known to Afghan and coalition forces. No militant or military firing preceded the NATO assault, nor did coalition troops inform Pakistan that they were receiving fire from the Pakistani side, as is procedure, Abbas said.

Once the strike began, Abbas said, soldiers notified their commanders in the nearby city of Peshawar, who told officials at military headquarters in Rawalpindi, who then informed two trilateral border coordination centers located at the Torkham pass and the border of Pakistan’s North Waziristan region.

“But somehow it continued,” Abbas said of the firing. “Our side believes there is no possibility of confusion. The post location is not where a Taliban would take position.”

The Express Tribune carries more of Abbas’ remarks: Read more

NATO Helicopter Attack Kills Up to 28 at Pakistani Border Post, Supply Crossings Closed

Backlog of supply trucks at Torkham crossing after closure in September, 2010. (DIgital Globe photo on Flickr)

In September of 2010, the US and Pakistan faced a crisis in relations after the killing of two Pakistani soldiers at a border outpost.  Pakistan closed the Torkham supply crossing through the Khyber Pass as a result of the incident. Today, Pakistan has closed both the Torkham and the Chaman crossings, indicating a very strong response to an incident in which up to 28 have been killed at a Pakistani border post.

The Washington Post describes the situation in this way:

The Pakistani army on Saturday accused NATO helicopters of firing on two Pakistani border checkposts and killing 24 soldiers, and officials quickly closed a key border crossing used by convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan.

The attack, which took place early Saturday in the Mohmand region of Pakistan’s tribal belt along the Afghan border, seemed certain to mark a new downturn in the ever-rocky U.S.-Pakistan alliance. NATO troops battling militants in Afghanistan coordinate border operations with the Pakistani military, but Pakistan does not allow coalition forces to enter or fire inside its territory without permission. Various Islamist militant factions are based in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas, from where they can easily slip across the border to attack inside Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials issued swift condemnations. The powerful army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in a statement that the firing was an unprovoked act of “aggression” that prompted Pakistani troops to fire in self-defense. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the matter would be “taken up by the foreign ministry, in the strongest terms, with NATO and the U.S.”

We learn from the Express Tribune that the order to close at least the Torkham crossing was not a local decision:

Official sources confirmed the suspension of supplies, adding that all containers were stopped at the Takhta Baig check post in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency.

“We have suspended the supply and will not let even a single container move ahead,” the official added.

“We have stopped NATO supplies after receiving orders from the federal government,” Mutahir Hussain, a senior administration official in Khyber tribal region, on the Afghan border, told AFP. ”Supply trucks are being sent back to Peshawar.”

The Reuters description of the incident tells us the Chaman crossing also is closed: Read more

Rogin Obtains Proof Mullen Received Ijaz Memo, Pakistan Ambassador Recalled, Offers Resignation

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US. (Wikimedia Commons)

Back on October 10, Mansoor Ijaz, an American from a Pakistani family, published a remarkable column in Financial Times in which he claimed to have been involved in the passing last May of a memo purportedly from Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Michael Mullen, who was at that time Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ijaz described the memo as being prepared out of fears that Pakistan faced an imminent military coup as fallout from the government’s embarrassment over the ease with which the US carried out its mission to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan. After Josh Rogin published denials from Mullen on November 8 that Mullen had any knowledge of the memo, Ijaz responded by publishing a number of communications with a Pakistani official from the time period in which the memo was being crafted. These communications are widely believed to have been with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.  In a flurry of action yesterday, Josh Rogin provided confirmation from Mullen that he had indeed received the memo, Pakistan recalled Haqqani for discussions and Haqqani offered to resign.

Unfortunately, the draconian “Terms and Conditions” at Financial Times prevent treatment of their material in the same way sane publications can be excerpted for quotes, so it will be necessary for readers to go through their ridiculous “free registration” process to read the Ijaz column in full at the link above. Suffice it to say that Ijaz described an offer represented as coming from Zardari to eliminate the branch of Pakistan’s secret Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI) that deals with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Zardari sought US protection for taking such action.

Here is the denial Rogin obtained on November 8 from Mullen’s spokesman, Captian John Kirby:

“Adm. Mullen does not know Mr. Ijaz and has no recollection of receiving any correspondence from him,” Kirby told The Cable. “I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him — the admiral received many missives as chairman from many people every day, some official, some not. But he does not recall one from this individual. And in any case, he did not take any action with respect to our relationship with Pakistan based on any such correspondence … preferring to work at the relationship directly through [Pakistani Army Chief of Staff] Gen. [Ashfaq Parvez] Kayani and inside the interagency process.”

Rogin goes on to describe Pakistani denials from that same time period:

Mullen’s denial represents the first official U.S. comment on the Ijaz memo, which since Oct. 10 has mushroomed into a huge controversy in Pakistan. Several parts of Pakistan’s civilian government denied that Ijaz’s memorandum ever existed. On Oct. 30, Zardari spokesman Farhatullah Babar called Ijaz’s op-ed a “fantasy article” and criticized the FT for running it in the first place.

“Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation is nothing more than a desperate bid by an individual, whom recognition and credibility has eluded, to seek media attention through concocted stories,” Babar said. “Why would the president of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to U.S. officials? Since when Mansoor has become a courier of messages of the president of Pakistan?”

Here is the admission from Kirby that Rogin obtained yesterday on the existence of the memo:

“Adm. Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Mr. Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy‘s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby said. “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Adm. Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with Gen. Kayani and the Pakistani government. He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.”

Rogin also spoke with Husain Haqqani:

In an interview late on Wednesday afternoon, Washington time, Haqqani confirmed to The Cable that he will travel to Islamabad and has sent a letter to Zardari offering his resignation.

“At no point was I asked by you or anyone in the Pakistani government to draft a memo and at no point did I draft or deliver such a memo,” Haqqani said that he had written in his letter to Zardari.

“I’ve been consistently vilified as being against the Pakistani military even though I have only opposed military intervention in political affairs,” Haqqani said that he wrote. “It’s not easy to operate under the shadow of innuendo and I have not been named by anyone so far, but I am offering to resign in the national interest and leave that to the will of the president.”

Rogin goes on to speculate on the possibility that Zardari may sacrifice Haqqani in order to quell the controversy surrounding the memo, but from Haqqani’s statements Rogin provided, it does not appear that Haqqani will go quietly.

Dawn, which is usually considered to be closely aligned with Pakistan’s military, described yesterday’s events in this way:

A senior diplomatic source, when asked to comment on reports Ambassador Haqqani had sent his resignation to the president, said: “We cannot call it a resignation. He has sent a letter to prove that he is not guilty.”

In his message, the ambassador is believed to have written that he was not responsible for the letter that allegedly sought US support for sacking the ISI and army chiefs. The ambassador offered to resign if proven guilty.

Haqqani left his office at lunch and did not return. Before leaving, he sent an email to dozens of Pakistani journalists, giving details of a news conference he addressed in the morning on ties with US.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government had summoned Ambassador Haqqani to Islamabad to learn more about a letter ‘falsely’ attributed to the president.

The Express Tribune chose merely to run a Reuters article that rehashes Rogin’s revelations (without citing him).

It will be very interesting to see what unfolds when Haqqani arrives in Islamabad.

 

Night Raids, Drones and Raymond Davis Still in Af-Pak News

A vitally important loya jirga, or grand gathering, is underway in Afghanistan with leaders from all over the country converging to share their views on the future of the Afghanistan-US relationship.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced that a prerequisite for any deal with the US is an end to night raids.  Perhaps because of the importance of the meetings in Afghanistan, today saw a particularly large drone attack just across the border in Pakistan, with at least 15 killed in the attack.  Raymond Davis also makes a surprise re-appearance in today’s news, with former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi providing more details on his resignation when he was under pressure for refusing to grant diplomatic immunity to Raymond Davis.

The loya jirga starts today and the Taliban has vowed to attack it:

 About 2,000 Afghan community and political leaders will gather on Wednesday in Kabul under tight security for four days of deliberations on the country’s most pressing issues, including ties with main ally the United States.

The meeting, known as a loya jirga, or grand assembly, cannot make laws, and whatever it decides has to be approved by parliament, but the subjects up for debate are among the most sensitive: the scope of a U.S. military presence after a 2014 deadline for foreign combat troops to leave and the idea of peace talks with the Taliban.

The Taliban, who have long fought to oust foreign forces, have dismissed the meeting as a ruse to cement what they see as foreign interference and have already tried to disrupt it. They have vowed to target participants and said they had a copy of the jirga security plan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is using the occasion to say that no agreement with the US is possible without an end to night raids: Read more

Afghanistan Exit Strategy: “Fight, Talk, Build” Working (for Fight, Anyway)

Training exercise in Kandahar using helicopter from Afghan Air Force, September 17, 2011. (Army photo)

As the US stumbles around, trying to find its way out of a country it has occupied for over ten years, the path “forward” remains as murky as ever.  Just under two weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was chosen as the point person for introducing the new US catchphrase “fight, talk, build” that is meant to describe US strategy in the region.  As I noted at the time, the US seemed to completely miss the irony of using the country’s chief diplomat to introduce a new strategy that is based on the concept of shoot first and ask questions later.

We learn in this morning’s Washington Post that the US strategy of attacking the Haqqani network on both sides of the Pakistan border before starting serious efforts to hold talks with them has only increased the frequency of attacks from them.  As the remarkable passage from the Post below illustrates, the US had to endure no fewer than five large, high profile attacks from the Haqqani network before considering the possibility that the attacks could be a return of “fight” for “fight” and an attempt to improve the Haqqani position for later negotiations rather than the laughable early suggestion from the US that by resorting to more spectacular attacks, the Haqqanis were demonstrating that they had been weakened significantly:

This official and others acknowledged that the success of the strategy, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has described as “fight, talk and build,” depends on a positive outcome for several variables that currently appear headed in the wrong direction.

On Saturday, insurgents staged a suicide bomb attack in Kabul that killed at least 12 Americans, a Canadian and four Afghans. A similar truck bomb attack Monday left three United Nations employees dead in the southern city of Kandahar.

The attacks were the latest in a series of spectacular insurgent strikes that have made reconciliation seem remote. In September, the Pentagon blamed the Haqqani network for a truck bombing of a combat outpost west of Kabul that wounded 77 U.S. troops and for an assault by gunmen on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

A week after the embassy strike, a suicide bomber killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which is in charge of reconciliation negotiations for the government.

U.S. officials have said they were unsure whether the attacks were a reflection of insurgent military weakness, a rejection of talks or a burst of aggression designed to improve the militants’ negotiating position — similar to the escalation of U.S. attacks on the Haqqani network.

That bit at the beginning should not be overlooked: the success of the “fight, talk, build” strategy “depends on a positive outcome for several variables that currently appear headed in the wrong direction.”  Mechanisms for reversing the current direction of these variables are not presented in the article.

Meanwhile, the first in a series of “conferences” has gotten underway in Turkey, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai meeting directly with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. Parallel meetings between the two countries’ top military officers are also taking place. Clinton had been scheduled to join the conference tomorrow, but her trip was canceled yesterday, apparently because of her mother’s ill health (Update: there are reports on Twitter that Dorothy Rodham has died).  It looks as though the US feels talking can wait, as no replacement for Clinton at the conference has been announced.

While the Obama administration begins to think about preparing to maybe get the Pentagon perhaps to agree to withdraw a few more troops out of Afghanistan,  we see the terrain being softened a bit more for the eventual realization that all of the US efforts  and investments in “training” Afghan forces are destined for failure.  It appears from this article that David Petraeus, who is touted in the press as responsible for training when it is described as being successful, will escape blame for the failure in Afghanistan because William Caldwell is described in the article as having “overseen all NATO training in Afghanistan for the past two years”.  In true Petraeus fashion, the slate for the previous eight years is not just wiped clean, but ceases to exist.  Petreaus’ name does not appear in the article.

There is one truly refreshing bit of honesty that breaks through into the Reuters piece on training of Afghan troops:

But senior U.S. military officials admit that money has not always been spent in the wisest ways.

“We have received an awful lot of money from the U.S. government. We need to use it differently now,” said U.S. Army Major General Peter Fuller, deputy commander for programs and resources within the NATO training mission.

Another U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the mission was buying up high-tech equipment to satisfy Washington, while more basic needs were ignored.

Yup.  “Training” Afghan forces turns out to be nothing more than an exercise in further lining the pockets of military contractors and the lawmakers who benefit from their lobbying.  With that driving force in mind, efforts to achieve a true exit from Afghanistan will face fierce resistance in Washington.

BBC Documentary Exposes ISI Training, Equipping of Taliban Militants

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf3KgUoBJno[/youtube]

For just over a month, the US and Pakistan have been struggling to deal with tensions created by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee where he stated flatly that Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency directly aids militants who attack US interests in Afghanistan.  Wednesday night, BBC Two aired part one of its “Secret Pakistan” documentary, providing detailed evidence that supports Mullen’s accusations.

From BBC News, we get some details on the disclosures in the documentary:

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the claims. But the BBC documentary series Secret Pakistan has spoken to a number of middle-ranking – and still active – Taliban commanders who provide detailed evidence of how the Pakistan ISI has rebuilt, trained and supported the Taliban throughout its war on the US in Afghanistan.

“For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide,” said one Taliban commander, who fights under the name Mullah Qaseem. “Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly, they provide us with weapons.”

Another commander, Najib, says: “Because Obama put more troops into Afghanistan and increased operations here, so Pakistan’s support for us increased as well.”

He says his militia received a supply truck with “500 landmines with remote controls, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 2000 to 3000 grenades… AK-47s, machine-guns and rockets”.

Reuters also describes some of the revelations from the program:

Other Taliban commanders described how they and their fighters were, and are, trained in a network of camps on Pakistani soil.

According to a commander using the name Mullah Azizullah, the experts running the training are either members of the ISI or have close links to it.

“They are all the ISI’s men. They are the ones who run the training. First they train us about bombs; then they give us practical guidance,” he said.

The BBC News article also quotes CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who prepared a review of US intelligence on ISI involvement with militants.  Riedel told BBC that the ISI actively supports Taliban militants that carry out actions in Afghanistan.  Riedel also claimed that US drone attacks are now more successful because Pakistan is not given advance warning: Read more

From US-Pakistan Meetings: No Pakistan Action in North Waziristan; Petraeus to Deliver Evidence Against ISI

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaRKHVw4rUo[/youtube]

The high level meetings in Islamabad between US and Pakistani officials head into their second day today, after a marathon four hour session late yesterday.  The line-ups of officials present for the two countries is remarkable and reflects the seriousness with which the two countries view the current situation.  Pakistan’s Express Tribune provides a partial list of those present at the meetings:

Clinton was accompanied by US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsy, Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus, US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and US Ambassador Cameron Munter, while Premier Gilani was assisted by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and other senior officials.

Despite the pomp surrounding the meetings and the seniority of those present, there seems to be little prospect that positions on the major issue will change.   As I described yesterday, Clinton is delivering the “new” catchphrase for the US of “fight, talk, build”, meaning that the US places the highest priority on fighting the Haqqani network, seen by the US as the biggest current threat and unlikely to participate in meaningful peace talks.  By contrast, Pakistan’s Prime Minister has implored the US to “give peace a chance”.  From the same Express Tribune article:

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s press office also confirmed that Pakistan has no plans to initiate a military operation in North Waziristan.

“Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called upon US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give peace a chance, as envisaged in the All Parties Conference’s resolution,” said the statement.

We learn from today’s Washington Post that Clinton is warning Pakistan that they will pay a price for this refusal to attack the Haqqani network in their safe havens: Read more

Clinton, Petraeus Head to Pakistan for Talks While NATO Attacks Near Border

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker on arrival in Kabul on Wednesday. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CIA Director David Petraeus will be in Islamabad today for talks amid somewhat calmer US-Pakistan relations and to set the stage for a possible negotiated end to hostilities in Afghanistan.  At the same time, NATO has been conducting raids for about a week on the Afghanistan side of the border with Pakistan, attempting to rid the area of members of the Haqqani network.

The previously escalated rhetorical battle between the US and Pakistan has been on a calming trajectory since reaching its highpoint when Joint Chiefs Chair Mullen claimed that the Haqqani network was a virtual arm of Pakistan’s ISI.  Amid these calming relations, Clinton arrives in Islamabad today after a visit to Kabul.

The visit to Afghanistan was aimed in part at boosting Afghanistan’s efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban ahead of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Those negotiations were dealt a severe setback when Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief negotiator for Afghanistan, was killed last month by a suicide bomber.  As the Washington Post points out, the US and Afghanistan have not always agreed on how to proceed in the negotiations:

Clinton, who traveled to Kabul after visits to Libya and Oman, was scheduled to meet Thursday with President Hamid Karzai and other government and parliamentary leaders. Her trip comes at a time of increased tensions between U.S. and Afghan officials over how to pursue peace with the radical Islamist Taliban movement after a decade-long insurgency.

/snip/

U.S. officials are pushing for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban as a crucial step toward ending the conflict and have engaged in secret parallel talks with Taliban leaders, so far without success.

Karzai, who has criticized the secret U.S. talks, has urged a greater role for Pakistan in the reconciliation process, noting that many of the key Taliban commanders use Pakistan’s lawless tribal region as a base. The State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters, said Clinton “agrees with President Karzai that Pakistani cooperation is critical.”

Note that while differing on their approaches to negotiating with the Taliban, both Afghanistan and the US agree that Pakistan must do more to control militants, especially the Haqqani network.  However, the accusations of providing safe havens for the Haqqanis now seem to flow both directions: Read more