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Pak military playing double game on Afghanistan: NYT

July 02, 2012 12:14 IST

Slamming Pakistan for refusing to cut ties with the Haqqani network of militants, a leading US daily has said the military of the 'crippled and chaotic' state continues to play a "double game" of accepting aid from America while enabling the Afghan Taliban.

The New York Times said in the editorial piece titled 'Crippled, Chaotic Pakistan' that for years, Pakistan ignored the Obama administration's pleas to crack down on militants who cross over to attack American forces in Afghanistan.

Recent cross-border raids by Taliban militants who kill Pakistani soldiers should give Islamabad a reason to take that complaint more seriously, it said.

"Fighting extremists should be grounds for common cause, but there is no sign that Pakistan's military leaders get it. They see the need to confront the virulent Afghan-based insurgency that threatens their own country and has killed thousands of Pakistani soldiers and civilians.

"But they refuse to cut ties with the Haqqanis and other militants, who give Islamabad leverage in Afghanistan and are the biggest threat to American efforts to stabilise that country," the Times said.

It added that Pakistan's political system is growing "ever more dysfunctional," even as the need to take on the border chaos becomes more urgent.

The editorial said it makes sense that India becomes more involved in Afghanistan, "as long as its activities are transparent", and Indian companies invest in the war-torn nation.

Pakistan had a chance to develop into a more stable country after 2001 when it had strong leverage with the United States, which needed help to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also received billions of dollars in aid.

"But the army continues its double game -- accepting money from the Americans while enabling the Afghan Taliban -- and the politicians remain paralysed.

"Soon, most American troops will be gone from Afghanistan. And Pakistan will find it harder to fend off its enemies, real and perceived," it said.

The editorial said some in the US Congress want to designate the Haqqanis as a terrorist organisation but such a step would be "unwise" because it could lead to Pakistan's being designated a terrorist state subject to sanctions and making cooperation even harder.

"The United States has no choice but to try to work with Pakistan, including the army, when it can".

While Obama administration officials are "reaching the limits of our patience," the United States cannot walk away from Pakistan as it needs its help in reopening a critical supply route to Afghanistan and in urging the Taliban to engage in peace talks so that combat troops can be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The US also needs to monitor Islamabad's growing nuclear arsenal and has little choice but to continue drone attacks on militants in Pakistan.

While US officials hope the crisis in relations caused by the killing of Osama bin Laden and other events will pass, they are holding the Pakistanis more at arm's length and setting narrower goals.

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