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Clinton says US expects Pakistan to act against Haqqani network

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“I don’t think they’ve come to any sort of breakthrough on the Haqqani issue,” says Arif Rafiq, a Washington-based consultant on South Asia and editor of Pakistan Policy. “I think Hina Rabbani Khar was tasked to emphasize the shared interest in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network is the major difference – she avoided it to present this narrative of being on the same page,” he adds, noting that throughout the course of the press briefing, Khar did not mention the Haqqani network by name even once.

Earlier in the week, Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani told a parliamentary standing committee he was not convinced that fighting the Haqqani network would solve Pakistan’s problems.

The Pakistani military fears attacking the Haqqani network could destabilize Pakistan while undermining Pakistan's position in the Afghanistan peace talks. General Kayani may also wish to avoid appearing ‘weak’ to its domestic audience by offering too many concessions that are seen to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

While Clinton briefly addressed economic assistance to Pakistan, the briefing was more focused on security issues than in Clinton’s previous trips to Pakistan as secretary of State, says Mr. Rafiq, the analyst.

“This actually demonstrates the nature of US-Pak relations has changed. Previously there was ambitious agenda to enlarge the US footprint inside Pakistan. Now military and economic aid is dwindling and the key areas remain security issues,” he says, referring to a recent decision to suspend $800m of military aid and delays in sending civilian aid.

For her part, Khar denied that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies support Afghan insurgents, stating: “It is Pakistan’s interest to have stability in Afghanistan. No country has more to gain than Pakistan and no country has more to lose.”

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