Kabul: Visiting US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday observed that Afghanistan has made progress in security and governance transition, and added that it was extremely important Pakistan that take steps to prevent terrorists from using its territory. “The country (Afghanistan) has made significant progress in the transition to both Afghan security and governance,” Panetta told reporters at a joint press conference with Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak here.
However, with regard with the recent attacks, Panetta said the US was running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens of insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan. “Safe havens still exist on the other side of the border. Pakistan has to take action from allowing terrorists in their country to attack our forces on the other side of the border,” he said. “We are reaching the limits of our patience here,” he added.
While noting progress in transition in security and governance in Afghanistan, he said: “There will be more challenges and setbacks ahead, we have a tough fight ahead, but thanks for General John Allen (top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan) camping plans and bravery and sacrifice of foreign and Afghan forces along with the bravery and sacrifices of US forces we are on the right track.”
He also said that the US is not leaving Afghanistan alone and the time is not on the side of Taliban, reported Xinhua.
US President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders, during a NATO summit in Chicago May 21, agreed to hand over Afghanistan’s security charge to the Afghan security forces by mid-2013 and pull back their troops by the end of 2014.
Transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces to the Afghan Army and police began last July and lasts till 2014 when Afghanistan is due to take over its full security duties from US and NATO forces.
The Afghan Army and police have already taken full control of the eight out of the country’s 34 provinces, 11 provincial capitals and several districts where 50 percent of the population lives.
According to Obama’s withdrawal plan, 10,000 US troops were already pulled out from Afghanistan last year and another 23,000 will return home by September this year. “It’s an increasing concern that this safe haven exists, and that those like Haqqanis make use of that to attack our forces (in Afghanistan)… Safe havens still exist on the other side of the border. Pakistan has to take action from allowing terrorists in their country to attack our forces on the other side of the border,” he said, adding, “We are reaching the limits of our patience here. And for that reason, it is extremely important that Pakistan take actions to prevent this kind of safe havens from taking place and for allowing terrorist to use their country.”
The Afghan government has on several occasions blamed some people in Pakistan for supporting Taliban militants fighting in Afghanistan.
Officials in Kabul say that Taliban militants have been using Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas as their safe haven.
Panetta’s visit came a day after a twin suicide bombing killed 22 Afghan civilians and injured 50 in southern Kandahar province.