Pakistan minister promises end to Taliban, but army unsure
Pakistan's Foreign Minister S M Qureshi has promised to close down Pakistani sanctuaries for the Afghan Taliban after mounting US criticism, a newspaper reported on Sunday.world Updated: Jul 26, 2009 20:00 IST
Pakistan's Foreign Minister S M Qureshi has promised to close down Pakistani sanctuaries for the Afghan Taliban after mounting US criticism, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
However, the Pakistani army continues to divide the Taliban into good and bad, the newspaper said.
In an interview with The Sunday Times in Islamabad, Foreign Minister S M Qureshi insisted that his country would no longer give sanctuary to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other members of the Afghan Taliban.
“We are clear we have to deal with all elements that are challenging the writ of the government and making Pakistan or other places insecure,” he said. “We don't want our soil, our national territory, to be used against anyone."
“We're no more differentiating between good terrorists and bad terrorists. They've created havoc, made our environment insecure, and wherever they are, we'll take them on,” he said.
Asked specifically if this would include Mullah Omar and his Quetta shura, which runs the Afghan Taliban, the minister replied: “Absolutely, we'll be taking them on.”
But the paper said senior Pakistani military officers still divide the Taliban into good and bad.
“They cause no trouble to us,” it quoted one general as saying when asked about Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, a Waziristan warlord said to be close to the Al Qaeda.
“What we have to consider is what happens when the foreign troops leave Afghanistan. If the Taliban then take over, we don't want to be on the wrong side,” another said.
The paper said US requests for Pakistan to end Taliban sanctuaries were conveyed last week during a visit to Islamabad by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, and General Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Kabul.
It was reinforced by US President Barack Obama's special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who is visiting the region.
With the Swat Valley almost cleared after three months of fighting and Pakistani troops moving into the border areas of Waziristan to pursue Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, there is concern that Islamabad seems to have no interest in taking on militant groups that are using its territory to attack western forces over the border, the newspaper said.
A senior US official said, “We still don't see any evidence that Islamabad has politically or militarily made a decision to go after the Afghan Taliban.”
McChrystal said last week, “What I would love is for the government of Pakistan to have the ability to eliminate the safe havens that the Afghan Taliban enjoy.”