Washington, Oct 28: The US held a meeting with a Haqqani network representative at the instance of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, but this was not a negotiation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told lawmakers.
“The ISI asked us to meet with a representative of the Haqqani Network. There was such a meeting. It was not a negotiation... There was no follow-up meeting,” Clinton said in response to a question at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan convened by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday.
“This was done in part because I think the Pakistanis hope to be able to move the Haqqani Network towards some kind of peace negotiation... And the answer was an attack on our embassy,” Clinton said in response to a question from Congressman Steve Chabot.
Clinton emphasised the negotiations that would be part of any Afghan-led peace process would have to include the Quetta Shura and would have to include some recognition by the Quetta Shura which is still led by Mullah Omar. “I think everyone agrees that the Haqqani Network has safe havens inside Pakistan, that those safe havens give them a place to plan and direct operations that kill Afghans and Americans,” she said.
Clinton said there was a major military operation that was held in Afghanistan just in the past week that rounded up and eliminated more than a hundred Haqqani Network operatives.
“We are taking action to target the Haqqani leadership on both sides of the border. We're increasing our international efforts to squeeze them operationally and financially. “We are already working with the Pakistanis to target those who are behind a lot of the attacks against Afghans and Americans,” she said.
“I made it very clear to the Pakistanis that the attack on our embassy was an outrage, and the attack on our forward operating base that injured 77 of our soldiers was a similar outrage.
“And it was in both instances terrible, but the fact is we avoided having dozens and dozens of wounded or killed,” she said.
In her remarks, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, questioned the Obama Administration's decision to both hold talks and go for crackdown on the Haqqani network. “On the one hand, the US is negotiating with the Haqqani network, and yet on the other, we're attempting to destroy the network.
“There have been some unwelcome developments since the president's announcement four months ago such as the multiple, high profile assassination of major leaders in Afghanistan,” she said.