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US, Pak must find middle ground on Afghan issue: Pak media

world Updated: Oct 22, 2011 13:55 IST
Hillary Clinton

As Hillary Clinton concluded her crucial visit in Islamabad, Pakistani media on Saturday focused on her "tough message" demanding action against the Haqqani network blamed for attacks in Afghanistan and said the two sides must find some middle ground to facilitate the endgame in the war-torn country.

Secretary of State Clinton ended her two-day visit to Pakistan on Friday by making it clear that the time had come for Islamabad to crack down on terrorist groups like the Haqqani network that operate from its soil.

Pakistan must take action against these groups if they do not respond to overtures to get them into a peace process, she said.

"Pakistan has 'days and weeks' to act: US", said the headline in the Daily Times while The Express Tribune headlined its report: "Convince Taliban to talk, US asks Pakistan".

The reports focused on Clinton's "tough message" on the need for action against the Haqqani network, which the US has blamed for a string of major attacks in Afghanistan, and Pakistan's role in facilitating the end of the conflict in the neighbouring country.

Clinton had "more or less signalled" what the US wants to achieve – "Pakistan's change of its Afghan policy that, in the eyes of the US, causes clashes and cross-border terrorism between Pakistan and Afghanistan," The Express Tribune said in its editorial titled "A middle ground must be found".

Though Clinton welcomed the thaw developing between India and Pakistan in economic ties, the US will not "lessen the intensity of the demands she would have probably made unless the (Pakistani) military gives her the space she needs to sound less admonishing," the editorial said.

Despite Clinton's warning that Pakistan needs to act against groups like the Haqqani network, The Express Tribune said the "fact is that Pakistan will not act against the safe haven of the Haqqanis, full stop.

"Both the US and Pakistan cannot prolong the current contest of who blinks first. A middle ground of continued dialogue and cooperation must be found."

The Daily Times, in its editorial "Resolute but Unsteady", noted that Clinton had come "with warnings".

It said: "Her message is that Pakistan has to decide whether it would help or hinder the US-led war on terror and that the US would continue pursuing the terrorists in the region with or without Pakistan's engagement."

Though some "might think that Pakistan and the US have come to an understanding over the issue of the Haqqani network," this does not appear to be the case, the editorial said.

"The Pakistani military leadership seems still adamant. It has not changed its stance on the US demand that Pakistan must stop its support to and launch an operation against the Haqqani network," it added.

The US is concerned that Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's Kunar and Nooristan provinces "under the patronage of the Haqqani network would not allow the Kabul government to achieve stability in the post-2014 scenario," the Daily Times said.

Pakistan or the US had not "moved an inch from their respective standpoints, frustrating the hope of resolving the impasse".

"There is even a possibility that the US tone would grow harsher if its soldiers continue to die at the hands of the terrorist Haqqani network," the Daily Times said.