US won’t tolerate terrorist safe havens in Pakistan: Ex-Envoy

KABUL: James B. Cunningham has hoped that Pakistan would understand the change in the American approach.

“I hope that this is the beginning of a message that we will not tolerate any more the strategic challenge that is posed by the leadership of the Taliban being in Pakistan and having a safe haven there,” he observed in an interview with the Atlantic Council.

It was the beginning of a new phase in the effort to bring the Taliban into a political discussion,” Cunningham said, suggesting ISI officials might have been involved in setting Mansour up.

The official account is that the Obama administration had informed Pakistan of the strike after it took place. In places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, conspiracy rumours would circulate for some time, he added.

According to the former diplomat, the raid would force Pakistan to rethink the wisdom of providing safe heavens to terrorists. “I would hope so. I have seen some commentary from Pakistani observers that this may encourage a rethinking of the policy that the ISI has been pursuing.

“That is what is necessary. That’s what we, the United States, have been arguing for years; that’s what we need to find a way to accomplish. We have a core strategic objective here, which is to bring the conflict to an end.

“In order to do that we need to make clear to the Taliban leaders that they will not prevail by terror and by military means. And we, the international community, need to make clear to the ISI that we are no longer going to tolerate the kind of policy that they have been pursuing,” the former top American diplomat said.

Cunningham argued that to really get to a peace discussion, the Taliban had to come to the conclusion that the option of military force and terror would not get them back to the establishment of the emirate.

The status quo needed to be disrupted and that meant finding a way to impact the safe havens in Pakistan, he argued.

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