Lawmaker warns Pakistan over ties to Haqqani group

AP News
Posted: Oct 21, 2011 1:02 PM
Lawmaker warns Pakistan over ties to Haqqani group

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday warned Pakistan that the United States, if necessary, will aggressively target extremists operating within its borders and attacking American forces in Afghanistan.

Echoing the blunt message that Obama administration officials delivered in Islamabad, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Pakistan could lose an ally if it fails to take responsibility for allowing and supporting the attacks because the United States will always defend its troops.

"We have the right to target not only forces and artillery attacking our forces in Afghanistan from across the border in Pakistan, but to target the people controlling those forces as well," Levin said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Levin said Pakistan must crack down on the Haqqani network, considered a major threat to American forces. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress last month that the violent Haqqani network "acts as a veritable arm" of Islamabad's intelligence agency.

"We should inform Pakistan that it should not expect to normalize its relationship with the United States so long as it provides safe haven for violent extremist groups or uses terrorists as proxies to weaken other countries or bully them into acceding to Pakistan's demands," Levin said.

Levin said the United States should designate the Haqqani network a terrorist organization like the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The senator also criticized Pakistan's obstruction of reconciliation efforts In Afghanistan and said it is an impediment to improved relations with the United States.