WASHINGTON — Even as the U.S. gradually warms up its relationship with Pakistan and sees success in Afghan security force development, insurgent safe havens in Pakistan are as intractable a problem as ever, a senior defense official said Wednesday.
“I can’t really say there’s been any progress,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters over lunch at a Washington hotel.
Haqqani network insurgents for years have used bases in Pakistan to coordinate attacks on U.S. troops and other targets in Afghanistan. U.S. officials, meanwhile, have continually pressured Pakistan to end support for insurgents by the country’s powerful intelligence agency.
Even though there has been no material progress against use of the safe havens, there are indications that the influence of those in government who want to use the Haqqanis and others to enforce Pakistani influence in Afghanistan may be waning, the official said.
But the senior official predicted that if the safe havens remain, the improvement seen among Afghanistan’s indigenous security forces means they’ll likely be able to handle the threat by the end of 2014, when most international troops are scheduled to leave.