The United States is becoming increasingly impatient with Pakistan serving as a safe haven for terrorists, who attack American troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday while visiting Kabul.
Panetta increased pressure on Islamabad to act against insurgent bases along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where al-Qaeda and Taliban militants are believed to be hiding.
“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it is extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven,” Panetta said alongside Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, according to a release from the Department of Defense.
Over the past year, relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have deteriorated after American special forces raided terrorist leader Osama bin Laden’s compound and along with another incident in November when NATO forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. In response, Islamabad closed down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan.
The presence of Taliban-aligned Haqqani network militants in Pakistan is of most concern to Panetta. Haqqani militants recently attacked a base in the southeast Afghan province of Khwost, killing an American contractor and wounding soldiers.
“We will continue to make it clear that it is an intolerable situation,” Panetta said.
The Haqqani group was also blamed for several attacks on Americans in Afghanistan, including last year’s attack on the U.S. Embassy and other buildings in Kabul that lasted nearly 24 hours. The group is also said to have ties with al-Qaeda.
“We will take whatever steps necessary to protect our forces — that’s a principle that we always stand by. To make that happen we have to have the cooperation of Pakistan to take steps to control the Haqqani threat on their side of the border,” he added.
Specifically, Panetta wants Pakistan to deal with the Haqqani militants before thousands of U.S. troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
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