Nato will not enter Pakistan to hunt Taliban insurgents, but reserves the right to hit the militants there should they attack alliance troops across the border in Afghanistan, the alliance’s chief said on Thursday.
Standing alongside Karzai at a Kabul news conference, Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was askeda if the alliance was considering a wider mandate from the United Nations to go after militant sanctuaries inside Pakistan.
“My answer is an unqualified no. We have a United Nations security mandate for Afghanistan and that’s it. If Nato forces are shot at from the other side of the border, there is always the right to self-defence but you will not see Nato forces crossing into Pakistan territory,” Scheffer replied.
He said it was critical for security that the two neighbours had good relations. “I don’t deny the seriousness of the problem but we are not seeking a new mandate. … If we want to find a political solution and if we want to see a regional approach, the level of political attention for this problem has to be brought up.
“And point number two. It is of course necessary to involve Pakistan in this process. Only to say Pakistan is the problem or part of the problem might clear your conscience but it will not help solve the problem,” he said.
Scheffer said that simply blaming Pakistan for increased cross-border attacks is not the best method. He called for a regional approach to resolving the issue that would include Pakistan, which has defended its efforts to end militancy on its side.
“Only saying Pakistan is part of the problem or Pakistan is the problem might clear your conscience but will not help in solving the problem,” de Hoop Scheffer said. “I cannot think of anyone who would consider it acceptable that many terrorists from all over the world gather in a certain area and create mischief and havoc there,” Scheffer told reporters, in a reference to militant bases in Pakistan.
“The bottom line is that the present situation cannot be acceptable for anyone,” Scheffer said. Karzai said cross-border attacks were mostly hurting Afghans and the answer was to hit the militants in Pakistan.
“The fight against terrorism is not in Afghanistan, and we will not be safe and secure in Afghanistan unless Afghanistan and the international community address the question of sanctuaries in Pakistan,” he told the news conference.