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'Pak needs to take action against safe havens'

world Updated: Feb 27, 2012 12:43 IST

Continued existence of terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan is a major impediment in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, America's top diplomat in Kabul has lamented, asking Islamabad to take decisive action against safe havens.

US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Croker, said it was difficult for the Afghans and the Nato forces to decisively defeat an enemy who can take sanctuary and maintain its headquarters in another country.

"I think there's no question that the safe haven have been and remain a problem," Croker told the CNN in an interview.

"We've been clear about that. We've been public about that. The Pakistani government needs to take action for their own sake as well as Afghanistan's and ours," the top American diplomat said.

According to The Washington Post, Crocker had recently sent a top secret cable to the US on the existence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.

Acknowledging that the situation in Afghanistan was tense now, Crocker hoped that things would calm down soon.

"Tensions are running very high here and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business," the Ambassador said.

"It doesn't mean that we're not doing business now, we are, with both military counterparts and civilian counterparts. Again, these are terrible tragedies. And very worthy of the condemnation they received. But this is not the time to decide that we're done here. We have got to redouble our efforts," he said speaking on the widespread demonstrations in Afghanistan following the incident of Quran burning at a US military base.

He said the Afghan government and security forces had worked hard to calm down tensions and quell protests, and cited President Hamid Karzai's repeated appeals for peace.

"We've got to create a situation in which al Qaeda is not coming back... We need to bear in mind that the Afghan security forces, throughout this whole process, have been seeking to quell these demonstrations.

"They've done so with loss of life on their side as well as some of the protesters, and they have been defending US installations. So they are very much in this fight trying to protect us," he said.

Crocker also pointed out that President Barack Obama, in a statement on Sunday, praised Karzai for his calls for calm.

The Ambassador said religious sensitivities run very, very deep in that part of the world.

"At a certain point it tapers off and I think we're all hopeful that the appeal for calm that President Karzai made on Monday and he did so with the backing of the entire political leadership of the country will create a condition in which this diminishes," he said.