Target All Militant Groups Including LeT: Kerry To Pak
13 January 2015
The Daily Excelsior
: Asking Pakistan to target all militant groups, US Secretary of State John Kerry today said terror outfits like LeT, Taliban and the Haqqani network pose a threat to regional countries like India and the world. Addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan Prime Minister's adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Kerry said the terror groups like the 'Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other groups continue to pose a threat to Pakistan, to its neighbours and to the US.' Kerry, who travelled to Pakistan from India, said all militant groups should be targeted to bring security to the region. 'We all have a responsibility to ensure that these extremists are no longer able to secure a foothold in this country or elsewhere,' he said. 'Make no mistake. The task is a difficult one and it is not done.' The Haqqani network is blamed for a bloody bombing of the Indian embassy in 2008 that left 58 people dead, a 2011 attack on the US embassy, and several big truck bombing attempts. US and Afghan officials have repeatedly said Pakistan's spy agency ISI covertly backed the Haqqanis to extend its influence in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad deny. LeT has carried out several attacks in India, including the co-ordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 that left 166 people dead, including six Americans. 'The tragedy of December 16 is really a reminder of the serious risk of allowing extremists to find space, and be able to command that space and operate within it,' Kerry said, referring to the Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that left 150 people dead, mostly students. He said the tragedy was felt in every US household and the US stands with the victims families in their sorrow. Pakistan launched a massive military operation 'Zarb-e- Azb' in the North Waziristan region in June to flush out militants from the area. More than 1500 militants have been killed in the operation in the region which had become a hub for militant groups who carried out attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and against the US interests in the region. 'The operation is not yet complete but already the results are significant,' Kerry said, pointing out that the operations 'have disrupted militant activities in the tribal areas and resulted in important seizures of weapons.' On his part, Aziz reassured Kerry that 'action will be taken without discrimination against all groups'. 'Their (Haqqani network) ability to operate from here across to Afghanistan has virtually disappeared,' he said. 'We expect our defence forces to remain engaged in counterterrorism operations for some time in the foreseeable future,' Aziz said, as he sought aid from the US to help rebuild the regions where army has been fighting militants. Kerry announced that USD 250 million in previously appropriated money will be given to emergency relief efforts in the tribal areas, mainly North Waziristan. Commenting on the drawdown from Afghanistan, Kerry said that the US role in Afghanistan is changing but not ending. Aziz said that in the strategic dialogue both sides have discussed wide range of issues including cooperation in economy, energy, nuclear issues, counter-terrorism and law enforcement. He said a new working group on Education, Science and Technology is also constituted under the framework of strategic dialogue. Aziz said that Pakistan and US have agreed on expanding trade and urged the US to give greater market access to Pakistani products. He said Pakistan is waiting business opportunities conference to be held in March this year.