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Pak, Afghan peace talks with Haqqani network irk US

world Updated: Jun 19, 2010 15:40 IST

ANI
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Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are said to be engaged in 'peace' talks with the Taliban, including with the Haqqani network, which is considered to be the most dreaded enemy of the US led allied forces in war ravaged Afghanistan.

According to Pakistani and US officials, Islamabad and Kabul have started discussions with the Taliban to come out with a strategy to establish peace and stability in the country, which has been devastated by the eight year long war.

However, Pakistan's efforts to reach out to Sirajuddin Haqqani led faction of the Taliban has not gone down well within the Obama administration.

The White House has cautioned both Afghanistan and Pakistan that it will not support talks with Haqqani's militia, as it considers the Al-Qaeda-linked group too brutal to be tolerated, The Washington Post reports.

"We think reconciliation has to have an Afghan face," a top US official said, adding that Washington "understands" the desire and importance of talks.

"But the United States has made clear that it expected to be treated as a full partner and not to be surprised," the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, added.

It may be noted that US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General David Petraeus, who oversees the America led 'war on terror' in Afghanistan, had recently told a Senate hearing that Pakistan has been asked to reign in the Haqqani network targeting foreign troops in the war tattered country.

General Petraeus said that the issue was also raised during his recent meeting with Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"We have shared information with him about links of the leadership of the Haqqani network located in North Waziristan that clearly commanded and controlled the operation against Bagram air base and the attack in Kabul, among others," Petraeus said.

The Haqqani network has also aligned with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to carry out terror attacks in Afghanistan, media reports said.

"The Haqqanis are not here offering their brand of governance or development. The Taliban are. They're not a popular organisation, but they're a powerful one," a senior US military official in Afghanistan said.

According to sources, militant outfits like LeT, Al-Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have increased their cooperation with each other and with the Haqqanis over the past several years.

Washington has long been pressing Islamabad to take stern action against the dangerous Haqqani network, however, analysts believe that the later is hesitant to come down hard on the terror network due to strategic reasons.

Experts believe that Pakistan sees the group as a strategic asset that will work in its favour and ward off India designs in case of any peace settlement in Afghanistan.