Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Wednesday argued that peace in South Asia was directly linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. This assertion came a day after two senior U.S. commanders reportedly told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan was not sincere in its intent to go after the Haqqani network and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
While the Pakistan military rejected this allegation, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Khalid Shameem Wynne drew the Kashmir linkage to regional peace in Islamabad and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar made the same submission at the OIC Contact Group meeting on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in Kazakhstan.
Gen. Wynne’s contention was that as long as the Kashmir issue remains unresolved, this region is likely to remain unstable. “We must therefore continue to find ways and means to find a just solution of the Kashmir dispute as it is only fair to all the people who dwell in this region and the world at large.”
And, in the Kazakh capital, Ms. Rabbani said peace and security in South Asia was directly linked to a peaceful resolution of the J&K dispute. Informing the gathering of Pakistan’s commitment to constructively engage with India for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue on J&K, she said Islamabad would continue to push for associating the “true representatives” of Kashmiris with the India-Pakistan dialogue on the issue.
Meanwhile, reacting sharply to reports suggesting that two senior U.S. military commanders had told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Pakistan knew the whereabouts of Omar and was ignoring American requests to find him, military spokesman Athar Abbas rejected this casting of aspersions on the desire and capability of the Pakistan Army to fight militancy.
“The Army is engaged in active operations against militants in three of the seven agencies in the tribal belt whereas in the remaining agencies we are intensely involved in consolidation and stabilization. There is an intelligence sharing mechanism where we promptly react to any actionable intelligence that is provided in time. Our concerns and constraints must be taken into consideration before making any statement questioning our commitment to fighting militancy.”
Launching operations against the Haqqani network has been a long-standing demand of the U.S. that Pakistan has warded off; partly on the premise that it cannot open too many fronts against terrorists – thereby spreading its forces thin -- and also because the Haqqanis have never targeted the country. All of last year when the U.S. suggested that al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, Islamabad had similarly sought actionable intelligence.