WASHINGTON, July 29: Tensions flared between the US and Pakistan as two top officials traded accusations of doing too little to combat Taliban sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The tart exchange between Douglas E Lute, President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, took place during a conference in Aspen, Colorado on Friday.
Under questioning from Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes,” Rehman said Pakistani Taliban fighters, who have taken refuge in two remote provinces in eastern Afghanistan, were increasingly carrying out rocket attacks and cross-border raids against Pakistan.
“These are critical masses of people that come in; this is not just potshots,” said Rehman, speaking on videoconference from Washington.
She said that on 52 different occasions in the last eight months Pakistan had provided to American and NATO commanders in Afghanistan the locations from which the militants were attacking, to no avail.
Immediately, Lute, a retired three-star army general and deputy national security adviser who rarely speaks in public, fired back.
“There’s no comparison of the Pakistani Taliban’s relatively recent, small-in-scale presence inside Afghanistan to the decades-long experience and relationship between elements of the Pakistani Government and the Afghan Taliban,” he said.
“To compare these is simply unfair,” said Lute.
Pakistani officials have long faced criticizm from Americans and Afghans for what they say is Islamabad’s failure to stop militant assaults originating from safe havens in Pakistan.
But in the past several months, Pakistani officials have started accusing American and allied officials of the same problem coming from Afghanistan. (IANS)