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Senator urges Pakistani push against Haqqani network

KABUL - A senior U.S. senator urged Pakistan yesterday to crack down on the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani insurgent network, which operates on both sides of the country's border with Afghanistan.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he does not think the Haqqani network will ever make peace and he vowed to push to include the group on the U.S. terrorist blacklist.

The senator praised Pakistan for its help in fighting terrorism and for taking on other militants such as the Taliban, but he said the country's reluctance to push into the North Waziristan area run by the Haqqanis is hurting the war effort in Afghanistan.

"They are not following through and have not followed through by going after one of the truly great threats that face us here . . . which is the coming into Afghanistan from Pakistan of Haqqani fighters," the Democrat from Michigan told reporters in Kabul at the end of his two-day visit.

The Haqqani network, which focuses on attacking targets in Afghanistan, is suspected of maintaining ties to Pakistan's military intelligence agency. The movement is led by veteran fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani, a legendary commander in the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviets.

The Pakistani government has denied reports that it has reached out to the Haqqani to secure its participation in talks with the Afghan government.

Levin was also in Islamabad, meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who said later that his government was doing its utmost to combat militance.

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