- Top retired general says priority to given to Haqqani sanctuary ‘because security situation in the East is not as stable as the South’
As the US prepares to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, a top retired American general on Thursday called for targeting the Taliban and the Haqqani network’s safe havens in Pakistan.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, General (r) John M Keane, told lawmakers that one of the ways to reduce the risk post-2014 was to “authorise the targeting” of the Taliban and Haqqani leaders in the sanctuaries in Pakistan.
“Priority is to the Haqqani sanctuary because the security situation in the East is not as stable as the South,” he argued.
“This would be an extension of the mission the OGA is conducting against the al Qaeda in the FATA. Once systematic targeting commences, the sanctuary will cease to exist as we currently know it, a place where strategy, training, operational oversight, intelligence and logistics is executed, routinely, in safe haven,” he said.
“These functions will suffer significantly which will positively impact operations in the East,” he added.
“Additionally, it will be a huge morale boost for the ANSF,” the retired general argued.
Keane also recommended a residual force of 20,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan post-2014. “This includes 8,000 for counter-terrorism, 5,000 trainers and 8,000 enablers,” he said.
Meanwhile, another former US ambassador to Kabul, called for warning Pakistan that any disruption in the next years general elections in Afghanistan would be considered a hostile act by the Obama administration.
Ronald E Neumann, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan and presently president of AmericanAcademy of Diplomacy, said the US should be pressing Pakistan to reinforce the border.
He said the US should also press Pakistan to help plan for election observers, institute a brief increase in air support to enhance Afghan ability to secure the vote and publicise American support for election training.
“We should also be clear on consequences if the electoral calendar is significantly breached or the election is disastrously mishandled,” he told lawmakers.
“We should press the Pakistan government to deploy large numbers of troops to the border to reduce infiltration during the election. They have done this before and it helped,” Neumann said.
“We should be prepared to be clear, initially in private, that failure to do so will be a hostile act resulting in serious reductions of aid and that we will compensate for a lack of Pakistani troops with increased air strikes in border areas whether approved by Pakistan or not,” Neumann said.